The way people access entertainment has changed – why haven’t ads?

By Mick Loizou | director

December 14, 2016 | 6 min read

Back in 1983, screenwriter William Goldman claimed that "nobody knows anything. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work”. While this may well have been true of the Hollywood film industry at the time, in today’s data-driven world of online advertising, it could be argued that we have the opposite problem: now we have the power to know everything, but we still don’t seem to know exactly how to capture our audience’s imagination.

The film and TV that Goldman was talking about, or ‘video content’ as we’d probably call it in a marketing meeting, has been forced to evolve as consumer habits have changed. We know that our audiences are using a raft of different devices to consume news and entertainment, and we have to reformat our ads to reach them in the right way. It’s not enough to simply post TV content online –we need to think bigger than that, from image orientation to where the video will appear and the content itself. With online advertising and social media, we have all the customer insights we need at our fingertips. Once we understand what makes our target audience tick, we should be able to make ads that resonate perfectly with them.

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Mick Loizou, Director of EMEA Native Ads Solutions at Yahoo

Mick Loizou, Director of EMEA Native Ads Solutions at Yahoo

Often the successes of big budget TV ads debuted in highly-coveted commercial breaks have been surpassed by simple, ingenious online videos that have caught the imagination of the general public. Delivering creativity in the right context, at the right time, has been proven time and again to be the winning formula for captivating consumers. This was clearly demonstrated by Always in its #LikeAGirl campaign, which spawned a series of online videos and a phenomenal buzz on social media.

But while a whole new generation of teenage bedroom video stars have cracked what people on online video platforms want, for many brands their own viral hit has continually eluded them – though not for want of trying.

Some advertisers, of course, have managed both. John Lewis, for example, last month released its TV ad for Christmas - which at the time of writing also had almost 19m views online. Apart from being a lovely piece of creative work, they’ve got the context just right – tapping into the emotional themes of acceptance and goodwill that we value so much at this time of year, and arguably need more than ever.

But not all brands have the luxury of a hugely anticipated Christmas advert, or the TV budget needed to build up that reputation. And when everyone is competing for the clicks and eyeballs of increasingly time-poor, savvy Internet users, getting seen can be hard. In all honesty, not all brands really need to create a viral video sensation – rather than mass reach, why not think about achieving maximum relevancy?

This is the beauty of native advertising. Whatever your product, and whatever emotions you want to appeal to, you can not only ensure your message chimes with your audience’s interests at that exact moment, but the actual look and feel of the ad won’t interrupt their overall experience. And it delivers results: we’ve seen that after audiences are exposed to a native ad, they’re 3.6 times more likely to do a brand search and up to 56% more likely to notice a search ad.

The fact is, not all brands can rely on an audience sitting through a full 60-second video online. Audiences are used to scrolling down past autoplay videos in their newsfeeds, and the time you have to grab their initial attention grows ever-shorter – these factors must be considered when creating a video for online. The traditional TV ad storyboard, with a clear beginning, middle and end, may actually work better flipped on its head when delivered natively – why not try having the pay - off right at the beginning?

Personally, I’m excited about the future. With the emergence of virtual reality experiences, you don’t just watch a story unfolding, you’re in it. Making seamless and highly engaging experiences in AR and VR is the next big challenge for brands – and something I notice John Lewis has already experimented with by producing a 360-degree video version of its ad. Now I come to think of it, virtual reality is something filmmakers of the 80s definitely knew a great deal about.

Mick Loizou, director of EMEA Native Ads Solutions at Yahoo


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