In the rush for ‘more’ video content, brands are forgetting basic marketing: The Drum and JW Player panel

The Drum x JW Player panel at Insights London

6 seconds? 15 seconds? A movie? Animation? There have never been more opinions flying around on what brand video needs to succeed. The Drum, in association with JW Player, invited industry experts to a panel discussion to look at how the world of video is evolving and where it is headed.

The length of video content might have become something of an obsession for the industry, but for most consumers advertising is off-putting “regardless of its length” according to Roslyn Shaw, managing director at Alpha Grid. Although she claimed she’d found a way to skirt around this issue.

Not everyone hates video advertising

“When users say they hate video advertising, they're really saying they hate a video that's dressed up like advertising. They're so used to that, they've learnt to switch off, “ she explained.

“Consumers don’t mind brands but they do mind you following that formula of advertising where you're just preaching,” she later added. “The campaign has to look and feel like an actual piece of video content that people would want to watch.”

Nick Palmer, head of beyond advertising at MediaCom disagreed and said he believes that it is the industry’s lack of understanding of how video advertising works that’s the real problem.

“The language used around video advertising needs to get more advanced,” he said. “Customers have never massively enjoyed advertising but they’ve always understood that there's a value exchange somewhere along the line.” Palmer pointed to YouTube’s low subscription rates as a prime example of consumers realising the value exchange on offer and accepting ads in place of payment. “The dynamic is changing around the amount of content you get versus the amount of advertising you receive, which is where we need to find a balancing act,” he added.

Value of video

But it’s early days for consumers to fully understand and respect the value of advertising across these new mediums.

“The market has to figure out what the natural peer point value exchange is and what the right scenario for advertising is,” Amobee CCO Ryan Jamboretz said. “People are figuring it out. The most advanced brands are doing it much more quickly. I’m constantly thinking about where we’ll be in the next five years, when we can really start to hone in on the natural efficacy of video.”

But all these changes in technology have led some marketers to question what constitutes as advertising today.

“It's all about context,” said Unlimited Group CMO, Sarah Shilling, pointing out how willing viewers are to watch an ad at the cinema. “Viewers are much more tolerant of ads if you can get three things right. Make sure it's insight-driven, has some kind of value and is relevant to your audience.”

For instance, take the most recent Iceland ad ‘Say Hello to Rang-tan!’ which was taken off-air after it was deemed too political. “Although it was banned on TV,” said Shilling, “it was signposted by several celebrities across social, which is a dream for any brand. It doesn’t need the kudos of being anywhere else; it has the power of being socially mobilised through influencers across lots of channels.”

Insights drive video marketing

And of course, by using data insights to inform creativity, brands are more likely to gain traction and cut through, agreed the panel.

“If you are insight-driven, you get forgiven,” added Shilling. “And if you’re insight-driven, you have the permissibility to then show the story you want to tell. You have to go out and gain that trust. Campaigns should be insight-driven and have creative push to enable the brand to get to where it wants to be.”

Of course, using insights alone means that marketers tend to forget other practices, such as how to effectively build a brand. “We've become lazy as marketers at brand building,” quipped Palmer. “There’ve been a lot of conversations around engagement, often at the expense of the brand. The two aren't polar opposites but we do tend to treat them as such.”

Jamboretz agreed, sharing his surprise at how inconsistent brands can be from season to season, year on year, seeking constant reinvention rather than clearly plugging their message.

“We need to remember the stuff that we knew 10-15 years ago,” he added. “Rather than ripping up the rulebook, basic learnings like frequency of message do apply. You get brands promoting a video, and then never showing it again.

“Simple media planning techniques should be adopted. They may need to be adapted, sure, but not forgotten. In this rush for content, people have forgotten everything; we need to re-examine what we knew and what we need to know.”

Acting with purpose

Inevitably perhaps, there’s an awareness within society towards acting with purpose and ethics. “It’s not just about understanding what’s happening in adland,” said Shaw, “but understanding what’s happening in the world.

“There’s a huge shift from consumers want to hear about ethical decision making. I hope this means we'll see a lot more brands being bolder.”

Although, the age-old question over whether brands should market their ethical stance just because they can divided the panel. Palmer said that brands should not force this viewpoint only to leverage it as a marketing tool “as that would be obviously dishonest, and will be seen as one”.

Ultimately, it’s about brands being clever and working out what opportunities are available to them, according to Joe Media content director, Brian Whelan.

As Shilling concluded, “It may be a new age, but really it’s just about adapting to new formats. It’s just the same really, it’s still video; we’ve just got to process the platforms the video campaigns live on.”

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