It’s no secret that web-enabled video is booming. Driven by the combination of an increasingly sturdy infrastructure to support its delivery and the growing popularity of online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, consumers of all stripes are spending more time watching video on personal devices. So, advertising budgets are being adjusted accordingly, as brands seeks to take advantage of the shift in behavior and make online video a larger piece of their media mix strategy.
New research from Brightcove – Video Advertising Trends and Preferences – demonstrates many positive developments for online video promotions: solid through rates (~60%), modest error rates (~25%), and manageable blocking rates (~20%). Yet, for all of the positive momentum surrounding online video, I frequently find myself advising clients to tread carefully when it comes to embracing the tactic.
Here are the three key issues that are top-of-mind with marketers when it comes to video advertising, and how publishers can respond.
1. It’s Easy to Do Video Advertising Badly. To be sure, it’s never been easier to create videos. However, while the means of production is readily accessible for just the cost of an iPhone, the other requisite – and costly – inputs haven’t changed. Sophisticated videos still require a multifaceted team comprised of a copywriter, art director, talent (performer), editor, and post-production expert to create a quality asset. Any attempt at cutting corners typically results in a shoddy asset that has the potential to hurt a brand’s marketing efforts more than it helps. That’s not to say there are exceptions – there are, and they get a lot of attention. But they are just that: exceptions.
Implication for publishers: Due mainly to its price tag, but also because of the relative complexity required to do video well, the domain remains the purview of large companies with deep pockets and the means to create quality assets, either using internal resources or with the help of agencies. And that’s where publisher sales efforts should be focused. Otherwise, sales groups can find themselves spinning their wheels for months trying to woo small companies with tight budgets to pull the trigger on a video campaign, only then to have it stall or perhaps worse, and push something out to the marketplace that winds up being problematic. For publishers focused on building out their video advertising offerings, providing video production resources to brands can be a meaningful – and potentially game-changing – tactic.
2. Video Is The Champagne of Online Marketing Channels, But Most Companies Can Do Just Fine With The House Table Wine.
Video is a major attraction to both senior marketing managers and also non-marketing executives, and for good reason. Only over the past decade or two has video become a viable advertising option for the mainstream. For most of the second half of the 20th century, video advertising (with all of its barriers to entry) was almost exclusively the purview of household consumer brands like Coca-Cola, General Motors, and Nike.
The development of reliable wireless broadband and the emergence of platforms like YouTube and Instagram have changed all that, of course. And this has democratized video advertising. However, just because it’s available doesn’t necessarily make it a good fit. Indeed, for most small and mid-sized companies, alternative digital channels such as search and display offer more options by way of speed-to-market, testing, and optimization.
Implication for publishers: Though video can be used as a direct response tactic – think of all the late night infomercials and class-action-lawsuit-recruiting pitches – it’s most effective as a component of a multichannel, sustained campaign. In other words, it’s part of a solution, not the solution. In this kind of a use case, video reinforces messages and offers being delivered via complementary channels, both online and off. For years, I worked on acquisition campaigns for a big telecom company. We used video as an upper funnel tactic to establish awareness, and reaped the benefits later on in the lower funnel area of the customer journey. Publishers that can offer these multi-touch point solutions know how and when to add video to the media mix, and do so in a way that effectively sets expectations and creates a roadmap to success.
3. Many Brands Want to Jump Into Video Advertising With Both Feet, But Markets Need Education. Even experienced and savvy marketers are prone to miscalculating what’s required to manage campaigns that rely on video to be successful. First and foremost, budgets get out-of-whack right out of the gate, as ‘workable media’ metrics get wonky simply due to what’s required to create the video asset. That’s not the case with brands that have been running TV spots for decades, of course, but rather for companies trying to move upstream in the online advertising value chain.
Accustomed to an environment where advertising units can be churned out easily in hundreds or even thousands of variations – as is the case with search, display and even content marketing – the usual rules go out the window with video advertising. So the entire digital marketing methodology that most active online promoters have adopted, which is based on a plan-design-launch-analyze-repeat methodology, doesn’t really work with video advertising, nor does that last-touch attribution metric which we’re all, however sheepishly, still embracing.
Implication for publishers: Media companies are in a unique position to genuinely educate customers and prospects on how to do video advertising successfully. Taking a measured approach to pitching video ad solutions requires some discipline and might also result in leaving short term money on the table, but given all of the potential pitfalls, it’s preferable to the damage that could be done with either existing, long-term (and profitable) customer relationships or potential new ones. Given the relative newness of video advertising.
There’s no doubt about where video advertising is headed. Along with the voice/speech category, video is on an upward trajectory that will last for years. Everyone loves video: consumers, executives, B2C, B2B, domestic, and international audiences alike. There’s no better package for message delivery. And it’s why the entertainment industry (using TV and movies as its backbone) remains just about as relevant today as it’s ever been, even in the wake of the internet revolution that was supposed to decimate the category. However, just as it’s difficult to make a quality, differentiated TV show or movie, so is the case with online video advertising. It’s part art and part science, and requires a ‘secret sauce’ to be effective. Brands will be well-deserved by wading carefully and deliberately into this space, and savvy publishers that serve as their guides will be rewarded as well.
About the Author
Tim Bourgeois is a digital media consultant that helps brands optimize ROI on advertising, technology and agency investments. Connect with him on LinkedIn.