The last few years have been kind to the social video advertising companies. Not only have they been able to take their share of the money flooding into digital and online video, but they’ve also benefited from the recent shift towards content marketing. If you’re not already familiar with the business model, social video advertising companies essentially act as ad networks, but instead of serving ads, they send emails to their publisher network asking them to present ads and content to their readers as sponsored content so it gets embedded in articles and blog posts.
When you boil it down, the idea is that presenting branded content – or ads – to people as content boosts engagement and the likelihood of the content being shared.
Over the last couple of years the social video advertising space has become increasingly crowded as a number of new entrants have been lured in by the relatively low barriers to entry and high profit margins. However, the added competition has fuelled the need for the leading companies to go beyond seeding to stand out from the crowd and stay ahead – here are some of the ways they’re going about it:
1. Emotional Measurement and the Science of ‘Shareability’
Many social video advertising companies have started to try and take a more scientific approach in a bid to work out what makes someone decide to share a piece of content. Unruly for example, have created a ‘social video lab’ in which they can do things like calculate the amount of earned media a video is likely to attract across the social web and how much paid investment will need to be deployed.
Others have partnered with companies who measure how users are likely to respond to advertising. Be On, for example, have been working with Real Eyes, a company whose technology uses webcams to read people’s faces and measure how they feel, while Ebuzzing have been doing similar work with Affectiva, an emotional measurement company that emerged from MIT.
2. Content Creation
There’s a lot of confusion in the market about the role the seeding companies play in the creative process, mainly because many of the companies infer on their websites that they’re more involved than they actually are.
However, some do get their hands dirty with the creative work in an advisory capacity, or more directly. Viral Ad Network (VAN), for example, has always worked closely with Rubber Republic, a sister company that is a creative agency specialising in video (last week they won a Gold Cannes Lion for a film they wrote, shot and seeded for Carat UK – Bodyform Responds : The Truth).
More recently, others in the market – such as Be On – have followed suit and have started to bundle creative services. Here’s a recent example of some outstanding work they did for AS Roma:
3. Exchange-based Seeding
One of the most interesting companies to enter the seeding space has been OneSpot, who have taken a slightly novel approach to seeding content. Instead of having the content embedded in articles and blog posts, OneSpot have created an ad format that can be served into standard MPU (300×250) ad units and into Facebook by buying on the exchanges. It’s essentially exchange-based native advertising, but the focus is more on presenting the content as content rather than as an ad.
4. The Self-Service Platform
Viral Ad Network (VAN) created a self-service platform through which smaller advertisers (i.e. those with budgets ranging from £500 to £5,000) can set up their own campaigns. Setting up a campaign is relatively simple – users simply provide the URL of their video on YouTube and choose from a variety of geo and audience targeting options. Being able to make use of videos hosted on YouTube enables VAN to use existing assets and avoid the hassle of having to manage customer service when it comes to integrating Flash components for tracking plays and engagement.