Empowering Advertisers within the Walled Gardens

Chris Bennett, Managing Director EMEA, PixabilityWhile the growth of online video is being in many respects led by ‘walled gardens’ like YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat et all, they pose challenges for advertisers in all sorts of ways, especially when it comes to things like data, measurement and targeting. One of the companies trying to help solve those challenge is Pixability, a video platform that helps simplify buying across some of the leading walled gardens. Here, Pixability’s Managing Director for EMEA, explains why he thinks walled gardens actually provide fewer barriers to cross-screen advertising than some would have you believe.

The borders of walled gardens are no deterrent to consumers, especially when entry guarantees access to a vast array of engaging video content. Facebook clocks up 8 billion video views globally each day and the number of hours users spend watching videos on YouTube is growing at a rate of 60 percent year-on-year. Yet for many marketers, the distinct complexities of these media goliaths remain an obstacle.

The accusations levied against walled gardens typically focus on their complexity, with marketers citing varying inventory sources and data metrics as major barriers to implementation. But these objections are rooted in a widespread lack of understanding, which is preventing marketers from reaching the prime audiences they desire.

This makes walled gardens an untapped resource, underused only because marketers and brands lack the knowledge — or the time — required to gain a firmer grasp of the opportunities they present, and realise their full potential.

By enhancing their understanding of how to implement cross-platform campaigns, adjust goals, and analyse results, media agencies will be empowered to conquer walled gardens and deliver powerful cross-screen campaigns.

Reaping the rewards of a walled garden

With consumers watching over 200 minutes of video each day, the ability of platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram to draw billions of viewers is a considerable benefit for marketers — but it’s not the only one.

There is the access they provide to unique first-party data, which enables marketers to target campaigns and identify users across devices with unprecedented granularity. The quality of the user experience and ad delivery is also greater on premium sites — Facebook and Google, for example, both launched mobile-friendly services last year to ensure all content would be served at its optimum level.

Standards of viewability are higher too. Last year Twitter implemented a 100 percent viewability benchmark for its video content, as did Facebook and Google. Last but by no means least — brands can rest assured that their reputation will be protected within the confines of a walled garden, where ad placement is strictly monitored.

Lowering the garden walls

The perceived complexity of walled gardens arises when attempting to juggle disparate ad formats, specifications, and the view definitions of each platform separately — a balancing act that is difficult (and time consuming) to manage. Instead, marketers should harness the individual strengths of each platform to form one coherent and far simpler video strategy with maximum reach, and impact.

Pixability’s research has shown that users interact with premium platforms in different ways — attracting specific demographics, with user activity spiking at select times, and achieving peak performance in their own areas of specialism. YouTube, for example, offers marketers the most sophisticated options for placement targeting, while Facebook and Instagram offer distinct campaign-focused targeting, and Twitter provides unique TV-based targeting.

By taking a unified approach, marketers can build campaigns that cross the borders of walled gardens — making each platform part of a wider strategy that utilises each one’s capabilities to fulfil a range of business goals.

Levelling the measurement playing field

While it’s true that varying metrics across walled gardens can make campaign measurement challenging, new solutions are emerging to address this issue.

For example, advanced technologies have developed normalised metrics that can be used to instantly evaluate cross-platform video performance. Taking into account the benefits of each platform, these metrics allow marketers to make like-for-like comparisons across platforms within one centralised system — vastly simplifying video advertising attribution.

The insights they generate provide a secret weapon for more sophisticated targeting and automated media execution across premium video platforms. Not only do they enable marketers to better plan, measure, and optimise campaigns, they also provide an accurate basis for more efficient and cost-effective media buying.

Unravelling the mystery of walled gardens is a matter of perception — barriers to entry are only immovable if marketers continue to view them as such. With a deeper understanding of the benefits walled gardens offer and the tools that streamline execution, marketers will be empowered to move away from the constraints of legacy media planning and buying, and realise the true potential – and business impact – of their video content.

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