The Evolving Creative Economy: Why Brands Need to Evolve too
Premium content consumption by consumers has undergone an evolutionary shift in recent years as streaming technology and high-speed Internet accessibility have fundamentally changed user behavior. Previous reliance on traditional in-home television and bundled pay-TV services has given way to unfettered access on any device & digital platform—quality video is deemed quality regardless of the screen or the producer.
Consumers are seeking out video that is worthy of their time and worth sharing. Branded entertainment that embraces an authentic narrative enables advertisers to deliver relevant consumer experiences that are not interruptive but engaging and valuable—and digital platforms offer myriad points of connection. Advertisers/brands must adopt a smart digital video strategy in order to succeed in today’s creative economy—transcending media time buying and instead buying audiences with purpose-driven storytelling that is equal parts informative and engaging.
Brands need to create a common experience across all consumer touch points—on and offline. As a result, video advertising budgets must be reallocated to encompass the broader digital landscape—expanding reach, enhancing interactivity, targeting engaged audiences, and delivering granular measurement. This is not to the exclusion of TV, rather it is a logical convergence of video strategies across all channels and screens. This migration comes with a dose of caution, however, as there is a lack of transparency and uniformity in digital video advertising with plenty of measurement discrepancies.
Whereas the rigid CPM measurement delivers scale and awareness it lacks engagement insight; and performance based options such as CPV (cost per view) & CPC (cost-per-completed video), seemingly the best models to gauge video campaign success, offer greater risk to the online publisher and thereby limit scalability for the advertiser. There is also an ongoing concern that automated video ads contribute to bot fraud (auto non-user traffic); and, that video ads will end up on inappropriate sites that will damage brand credibility.
The Media Rating Council (MRC), attempting to bring some clarity to the ad measurement issue, recently approved a new standard for video advertising, defining a viewable video ad as 50% visible on a user’s screen for at least two consecutive seconds. Hardly a high bar for the industry, but it allows advertisers to transact on viewable video impressions with a higher emphasis on quality content to drive engagement. As the digital space matures, most (if not all) of the above kinks will be addressed. In the interim, brands simply cannot afford to wait on the side-line...they must commit now to a smart digital video strategy.
Brands are increasingly moving away from traditional interruptive advertising experiences to authentic ones where they can add value to conversations that audiences are already having.
Leading agency networks such as Omnicom Group are counseling their clients (such as PepsiCo, Visa, McDonald’s, Apple) to move between 10% to 25% of TV ad dollars to online video, a trend that is expected to increase.
Online publisher ad inventory is now managed largely by ad networks (Google Ad Sense, Exponential, Open X, Specific Media, Brightroll) and demand side platforms (DSPs such as DoubleClick, MediaMath, Turn, Dataxu, X+1) that help facilitate digital media buys. These services offer open exchanges and programmatic real-time-bidding—automatically connecting advertisers with online ad inventory at competitive prices.
Supply side platforms (offered by LiveRail, SpotXchange, PubMatic, Rubicon, Yahoo Ad Exchange, Tremor)—essentially the publisher equivalent of a DSP—are also becoming more prevalent as publishers add their impressions into open & private ad exchanges to optimize sales of premium inventory.
Bottom-line: curation and creation of premium branded video that is informative and entertaining will be at the forefront of video advertising. Upfront sales, automated-guaranteed sales and programmatic buys will drive this growth with brands focused on buying audiences instead of media (and possibly bypassing agencies in the buying process).
Personalized Media: As the digital-user experience becomes more personal and fragmented, co-production and distribution partners will be pivotal for brands to ensure engagement, scale and delivery of specific audiences. Broadcast distribution is rapidly evolving to over-the-top (OTT) IP based systems—allowing reach and quality of TV with the targeting and efficiency of digital. Brands should look to longer-form advertising and sharable content that uses quality storytelling to effectively engage these disparate audiences.
Online publishers are embracing mobile strategies that move beyond responsive sites and mobile apps, with a focus on mobile-optimized (video) content and social media marketing.
The social digital ecosystem has developed a unique culture where branded video breeds passionate brand advocates. According to a recent Ipsos survey two-thirds of respondents agreed that “if it is a brand they love, they tend to tell everyone about it.” And 56% have taken action after watching branded videos for a service/product.
Mobile engagement of video is the fastest growing trend. Q3 2014 Global Video Index from Ooyala pegged mobile video plays at 30% of all online video plays. That was up from 20% share in Q2 '14, more than double mobile video's 14% share from one year earlier.
YouTube remains the dominant player in streaming short form content (with over 50% usage coming from mobile).
In mobile, Facebook ranked just behind YouTube, with 19.05% of bandwidth, which Sandvine released in its latest Global Internet Phenomena Report. This is attributed primarily to Facebook's autoplay video and video ads features in users' news feeds. Sandvine reports that for one broadband network, auto play drove a 60% increase in Facebook bandwidth per user.
Bottom-line: branded web video series, long-form storytelling, and quality programming optimized for mobile and on-demand platforms are the future of brand to consumer engagement. This strategy requires an investment in partnerships with content development, cross-distribution, and brand affinity as key considerations.
Data Dictates: Investment in procuring consumer data and analytics from on-air, social and online campaigns should inform editorial, content & distribution decisions. Increasingly big data—specifically behavioral, contextual, and geo-location data generated through online and mobile interactions—is uncovering audience insights that can augment traditional demographic metrics. Big data insights help advertisers/brands navigate the personalization of media consumption, reaching audiences in desired segments within a broader demographic group.
Media, finance and automotive brands continue to lead online video advertising adoption, according to new data from MediaRadar. In October, 2014 the product categories were first, second and third respectively, just as they were in October, 2013. MediaRadar found an increase in the number of brands placing online video ads in all 10 of the product categories it measures. In total, 4,207 different brands placed online video ads in the past year, with many just starting to adopt and the number in any given month fluctuating depending on the season.
Bottom-line: tapping into available data informs content development decisions, fuels brand discussions and drives engagement. More screens and audience fragmentation are in our near future offering more opportunities for brands to be present and relevant.
Vertical integration of on-air, mobile video to drive online retail purchases is the holy grail of all advertisers—delivering a 360-degree consumer journey. And digital storytelling that engages customers from discovery to advocacy will be the key factor to realizing that goal in the new creative economy.