The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.
Earlier in the week, eMarketer launched a report suggesting that ad spend on digital display will, for the first time, top the ad spend on search. Within digital display, the bulk of the money will be spent on banners and ‘other’, video taking second place with around 14.3 per cent of ad spend invested in its production. The Drum Network asked its members: following eMarketer's report, does this suggest 2016 is crunch time for agencies to focus and invest further in digital video?
Time and time again social media delivers the most impressive conversion rate for our clients. So, I'm not surprised to see the industry moving that way. The ease of which clients can utilise their first party data, the retargeting opportunities and the sheer scale of the audience make social an increasingly attractive platform for advertisers. The algorithmic focus that Facebook put on video views meant that in 2015, social video was the ideal format for mass distribution. As Facebook continues to have its sights firmly set on YouTube, I'm sure this trend will continue in 2016.
Rather than focus on video production in 2016, I'd like see the industry move away from outdated metrics like impressions and click through rates, and focus on execution and performance. Clicks aren't enough anymore. Clients need actions.
In a digital society overflowing with information, video cuts through the noise and suits a shorter attention span. Personal electronic devices and their capabilities are constantly evolving as are the platforms accessed by them; from photos to high definition video in the palm of our hands and the uptake of apps such as Vine, Snapchat and Instagram. These developments show no sign of slowing. Agencies need to embrace video, it allows for effortless communication of messages and branding and is an effective way of marketing to a specific demographic.
Moore’s Law, which basically states that innovation in technology will never slow down and only continue to gain speed and increase in its ability and or capacity, seems pretty apt. The technology is within reach and affordable with the advent of inexpensive film production gear and widely available software suites. Most importantly it widens the scope of our ability to reach even more individuals and engage them with the message.
Over and above whether agencies should focus on video - do many of them even know what video means in 2016? I've heard of some agencies focus testing social posts. For most it will be dusting off the TV commercial model – months of script revisions, storyboarding and expensive studio shoots.
We need to look to different models, from outside of the industry. Look to reality TV and documentaries, use small crews and journalists. All creatives should be able to do a basic edit or handle a Canon 5D. The lines between project management, client services and producers are further blurred. If video adds drag to the turnaround, in social that's death. Relevance leads to engagement.
At the beginning of each New Year, we hear it will be the ‘year of mobile’ and this latest report suggesting brands will switch their ad spend from search into digital video in 2016 is another manifestation of this annual assertion. Essentially, it's the increased consumption of content via smart devices (along with social media), that's driving this trend as video is at the current forefront of consumable online advertising content.
That said, video and native content are simply a reinvention or evolution of the banner ad – a way to attract attention, engage and prompt response from target consumers. And while video ad formats provide excellent brand building opportunities, that’s not to say it's suited to every brand or campaign. Nor that it will convert at the highest rates or deliver the best ROI. So, on that basis I don’t believe that search is truly under threat. More that video will simply play a more pivotal role in the wider online marketing mix and become a more crucial component to effective online engagement going forward.
Whilst video is one of the fastest growing channels, paid search will remain a staple in the marketing mix. This is for two primary reasons; the video landscape is more fluid and needs time to coalesce around an established model, this can impact its effectiveness as a direct response channel, and for this reason video will continue to be branding channel while paid search works more effectively as direct response.
On the first point, video, particularly in the UK, has greater upside. Adoption rates are increasing as platforms such as Facebook and YouTube make their platforms easier for marketers to use.
Secondly, agencies should invest appropriately in video as an effective branding channel with a smaller direct response expectation. That said, they should keep a keen eye on new approaches, technologies and methodologies which could drive change to this mix. What we do know for sure is that in the near future television is going to be bought programmatically. This will naturally challenge established models of buying TV advertising. Being prepared for this sea change is one area that agencies should focus their time and energy.
Media buyers should continue to invest video as an intelligently considered part of integrated strategy. If it helps your client achieve their goals, then invest accordingly. What we should not do is divert effective activity to a new channel simply because it is a new channel. For that reason, paid search will deliver ROI and growth for agencies and their clients. Further, there is still growth to come. Just because search is growing slower, it does not necessarily mean that video will not be directly displacing its budget. The pie continues to grow. Besides, search is very effective and still evolving. For example, only last year did Google introduce Customer Match for paid search, which is a considerable advancement in targeting capabilities, offering a whole new layer to paid search performance.
Search will increasingly lose share in 2016, while video is being driven by advances in broadband, browser technologies and streaming. Video also has the advantage of its connection with TV budgets. Making a TV ad becomes more cost effective to a client who uses that same creative across web, mobile channels and VOD as well. Search revenues could also be hit by developments in marketing technologies that provide better information on optimum yields per channel and enable clients to make better decisions based on returns. Search is likely to lose out here as clients start to better understand their inbound traffic. My view is that 2016 will see clients adopt a broader number of media channels with the goal of maintaining a healthy brand presence combined with increasingly efficient traffic reward. Share of budget will decrease for search as other channel opportunities and behaviour intelligence increase.
From an advertiser's perspective, search within an actual search engine is quickly becoming dated, so brands are right to direct ad spend away. Non-branded searches are becoming less abundant and, hence, search ads are becoming increasingly expensive. In fact, users are quickly adopting social media sites as their first port of call when discovering and interacting with brands leading to an increase in audience sizes on brand accounts. Video content is increasingly outperforming text and image based content, autoplay is becoming a standard on newsfeeds, and users want to witness how a brand can really benefit them. So in 2016 and beyond, shifting budgets to focus on video is not only more cost effective, but the richer, more creative content leads to better user engagement. Investing time and money into creating beautiful, engaging video content wins at ROI.
Potential customers should not be defined by their search behaviour only. There is so much more information available: If they've visited your website, which products they've looked at and their online viewing behaviour.
Video display advertising taps into this information and offers the user one well-produced video that amplifies itself and ignites new and existing customer journeys to draw into the brand's eco systems. It trumps search for its immediate visual and auditory message and in essence the lack of choice the user experiences. Today's internet user already has too much choice and digital display advertising removes that decision.
The more time applied to quality content and video production the better. Brands must build a killer arsenal of content to serve to their customers.
People are now insatiably consuming video, particularly on the go, and they are doing much more than simply watching crazy clips of cats doing backflips. Instead they are using video like never before to engage with brands, understand new products, and learn about new trends etc.
With 42% of online shoppers last year alone using video during pre-purchase research, and 64% of users using YouTube to actually find products, this growth is only set to continue and it is undeniable that digital video should be the core focus for agencies this year. Combine this growth with ever more sophisticated tracking and attribution platforms, and agencies can no longer ignore the power of video. Instead they should be utilising it as a direct response medium as a well as just awareness, and equally maximise the ability to fully assess its performance in the path to purchase.
However, while video is unequivocally a growth area, agencies need to ensure other channel activity remains as strong as ever. Video is great at creating demand, but advertisers need to ensure they’re still present to capture that demand via search as well – particularly given there is an 8% increase in purchase intent when display and search are combined!
Equally, just because digital agencies have a strong pedigree in search, doesn’t mean that this will extend into video as well. The right blend of resource and expertise for both production and distribution is essential. Dull, overly long (5 mins+), and low quality videos can actually do more harm than good, with users being 62% more likely to have a negative perception of a brand after a poor video experience. With one minute of video worth 1.8 million words, if you’re not already investing in video, or have no plans to in 2016, you’re seriously missing a trick – and almost certainly reducing the effectiveness or your current channel performance.
Digital video advertising is a great alternative to TV for brands to deliver a more targeted message to their consumers. The key inhibitors of growth in this area of programmatic is the market's failure to realise that CPM directly affects the quality of inventory on which your message appears. High click through rates and low CPMs are what all planners dream of, however the real holy grail of digital video is completed, targeted human views, not simply "impressions".
It is important that advertisers are educated to ensure they are spending marketing budgets in a way which allows them to reach their ROI goals. For example, if reach is a consideration, delivering low priced videos into smaller player sizes may be selected tactic, however if the goal is to ensure each ad impression leaves an impact on a targeted set of users, higher priced in-stream formats should be targeted.
Transparent video pricing models, delivered in premium environments are what will drive marketers to increase spend in this engaging format. Paying a premium for the impressions which deliver real value, will help increase the amount of quality supply and transparency within the marketplace.
It’s no exaggeration to say display advertising used to be a waste of money, engagement rates were terrible when compared to Search. Images and rich media have always been more powerful and instant than text in attracting attention, but the issue up until recently for advertisers has always been reaching the right people in the right context. However, the targeting options open to advertisers for Display have improved substantially over the last two or three years. On account of this, it is fast becoming one of the go-to channels we suggest to clients at the moment and this is mirrored in the report’s findings around increased spend in this area.
If they want to respond to the very clear message consumers are delivering to adland then yes, agencies should absolutely by prioritising video, although I’d be surprised if they aren’t already. Formats that ride roughshod over user experience are not the way forward however, this isn’t to say every such placement is altogether bad, but there are some incredibly disruptive out-stream channels, and in-stream platforms that don’t offer the viewer an opt-out, which may benefit the publisher by delivering higher yields and advertisers with more inventory but only serve to push potential customers further away, because it ultimately demonstrates a lack of understanding from the brand about how important the original content is in this value exchange.
The fact that video isn’t classified just as ‘video’, but also as ‘rich-media’ and ‘other’ demonstrates just how disordered the landscape is, so it’s time more advertisers followed Brompton’s lead and allocate themselves a “fuck-it fund”; make the opportunity, experiment with various edits or better yet different creatives by channel, embrace the thought that your audiences do not spend all their time on Facebook, and by mixing it up in this way what works for you will soon become clear.
Do you have a strong opinion on a topical industry issue? To submit a comment piece, please send a short summary of your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org. Views of writers are not necessarily those of The Drum.