Paul Silver is Head of Product at Audience on Demand UK. Here Paul explains how he thinks the online video industry needs to evolve in terms of planning, personalisation, audience measurement and buying. This post was originally posted on Bertozzi’s Bytesize, the personal blog of Marco Bertozzi, Managing Director EMEA of the Vivaki Nerve Center. Full credit goes to Paul and Marco, and thanks to them both for allowing us to repost the piece on VAN.
Online video is at an interesting place. It’s poised to accelerate digital spending over the next few years. But it’s stuttering somewhat. Given the time of year, this is not about predictions, but what needs to change if video is to fulfil its promise.
Advertisers and agencies alike need to change their planning mentality when it comes to video. Rule number one, it is not TV so why plan like it is? Video planning is still dominated by replicating a TV spot buy online. In a world where we now have the ability to address and optimise at scale, why create a plan that is not suited to the strengths of the medium? The video industry needs to embrace the move to programmatic, audience led buying. There are new ways to reach and engage audiences; TV targeting models simply are not transferable.
We also need to define premium. Advertisers (rightly so) are sensitive about content and environment but to the detriment of innovation. It seems to be a belief that only long form broadcaster content is deemed premium. I’d argue that reaching and captivating your precise audience and demonstrating engagement and interaction would be a premium buy? I’m not discounting the value of broadcaster content, but it should sit within a blended schedule that really maximises audience reach and the ability to optimise.
A lot of our research from The Pool suggests users want a different online experience, different from TV. All the more reason why we should not be repurposing a TV strategy online. Users want personalisation, they want more relevancy. Our research has shown that if ads are more relevant, users are more engaged. Users understand the web economy; if they need to be exposed to advertising in exchange for content, they want it more tailored. This is another reason why innovation is needed. A change in the way we serve ads, using data (in the same way we do for display) to customise creatives on the fly. We simply have to.
Speaking of optimising brings me onto a fairly contentious subject: No one knows how to measure video. Over the past few months I’ve had a lot of dialogue and conversation with those within the video space and the feeling I’m getting is we buy long form content because it dovetails nicely with our TV spot buying schedules. This would then assume that it’s a reach and frequency game against an audience. However, when we start looking at reaching a precise audience, using actual data, the goalposts move. Buyers look at clicks. Clicks are the worst metric to evaluate as a measure of success for video. Users who click are: (a) from a certain type of environment and tend to be a consistent type of demographic; and (b) are not being subjected and impacted by your advertising. Video is truly about upper funnel engagement. Regardless of whether it’s on your mobile, desktop, tablet, connected TV. Those that do click also drive, invariably, terrible bounce rates. What about connected TVs? We are already accessing inventory within these platforms. Do we expect users to start clicking on TVs?
The problem is that there is not a common currency. And whilst there is not a 100% robust methodology to bridge TV to video using a GRP, we should be evaluating success on engagement and cost per engagement. If that happens within long form content, short form content, it should not matter. You’re reaching your audience and optimising to engagement. If ITV et al can outperform all else on a cost per engagement model then great.
Video is still dominated by the old guard approaches to trading. There is a fear to change and innovate and often it is misplaced, perceived fear. Video publishers look at the display space with the excess volume of inventory and fear that video will become a race to the bottom. This is not the case. You remove user-generated content (UGC) out of the equation and you have a model that is prime for biddable trading. You have constricted supply with an increasing demand for that inventory. Anyone knows this will lead to increased pricing. Addressable video is about improving relevancy for the advertiser and rewarding the publisher appropriately. Improved relevancy and reduced wastage means less ads required to make the impact. Less ads at higher yield means a better user experience. A better user experience means more returning visitors. And then the process repeats itself.
Trading video over a table is not the future digital model. It will become platform based. It will become technologically enabled. But as to the reasons above, this isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t mean prices race to the bottom. Change is happening and it’s a positive thing which needs to be embraced. At Audience on Demand we are 100% committed to making the video space more efficient, more scalable and ultimately more rewarding for publisher and advertiser alike.