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Improving video ad viewability


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March 29, 2016 | 5 min read

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As part of The Digital Trading Awards Programme we hear from Nick Reid Managing Director, UK from Tubemogul who talks about improving video advertising viewability.

People love to hate advertising. They resent the intrusion into their lives and they believe that they are immune to its effects. But, the reality is that good ads create water-cooler conversation and are buzzed about.

When we complain about viewability with video, the finger of blame often points directly at ad tech. “It’s your fault that our viewability is low,” say marketers. “What are you going to do about it?”

My response is always: “Lots – and we continue to do more.” From educating people about player size issues and inventory quality to wading our way through the numerous standards set by platforms and the IAB about what constitutes a viewable impression, we strive to achieve even stronger results every single day.

When we watch television, we get up and make a cup of tea if we find the ad break tedious. We flip the magazine page if the ad image isn’t engaging. So why is it so different with online video?

There is no finger of blame to be pointed here; All I am saying is that it’s time to start a conversation about creative and the medium working together.

So how can creative work with programmatic to secure results? By examining the attitudes people have towards online video advertising in real time and the way in which they engage with ads as they enjoy their favourite content. This is the kind of information creative agencies have craved, and now they can leverage with a more symbiotic relationship.

1. Stretch programmatic creative to the limit by generating an ad that can be tailored to a viewer’s profile

Most programmatic creative practice limits changes to alterations in background colours or money-off discounts in banner ads. Unilever’s Axe decided to take the benefits of programmatic and apply them to their ‘Romeo Reboot’ campaign. The campaign targeted consumers over multiple segments and delivered differed versions of the ad based on factors such as musical tastes and brand preferences. Customisation in the videos ranged from subtle to extensive, with a total of 25,000 permutations available for each segment, meaning that groups of friends often saw completely different versions of the same brand campaign. Romeo Reboot for Axe (Interpublic’s CUBOCC)

2. Create an ad as funny and targeted as the content the consumer is looking for.

Burger King knows that its product is popular with young males, and that young males love online video content. A perfect marriage, right? Not if that audience considers ads a block to their online user experience. Burger King got around this by filming 64 separate, humorous ads linked to popular video topics in order to make the ad experience as fun as the content being viewed. I Hate Preroll Ads from Burger King (Colenso BBDO)

3. Make skipping the ad worse than the ad itself

When given the opportunity, we know that consumers will choose to skip an ad because they believe that what comes next will give them greater pleasure. But, what if what you get when you skip the ad is worse than the ad itself. Skipmayhem by Allstate owns up to the fact that people will always skip an ad when given the opportunity, but then makes the skip humorous, encouraging viewers to want to return to and engage with the original ad. Skipmayhem by AllState (Leo Burnett )

Full disclosure: Allstate is a TubeMogul client.

When it comes to online video, we need to start understanding that great creative should be at the heart of every campaign. We should be giving consumers advertising that doesn’t make reach for the first ad blocker they can find. Improving viewability takes two to tango – improvements in technology AND creation of content people actually want to watch. It’s time for the head and the heart to work together as one in order to create viewability rates and content we can all be proud of.

Nick Reid, MD UK, Tubemogul

Tubemogul are a sponsor of The Drum Digital Trading Awards 2016 and more can be found here, and here,


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