The 2 faces of online video

UK ADV

A few weeks ago I was asked to provide a point of view for this NMA article about the apparent sudden rise of behavioural targeting techniques in online video advertising.  According to data from video RTB platform Videology,  19% of clients using their platform now target video campaigns using behavioural data.

My initial reaction, and what I told NMA, was that this is the logical progression of a maturing market that starts to borrow targeting techniques and technology from the display advertising world. As video platforms develop and diversify it’s only natural that publishers, agencies and advertisers will seek to apply the same data-driven targeting techniques to VOD and video advertising that have become the norm in display media.

It is clearly also a reflection of the increase in inventory (display and video) delivered through trading desks and exchanges, where it’s becoming important to get clever with advanced targeting techniques to make sense of the potential sea of undifferentiated, long-tail video inventory now available. We are already starting to trial this for clients in the agency by applying 1st party data segmentation on potential new or segmented customers to VOD planning.

The article I contributed to was clearly about a single specific issue – behavioural video targeting – but I’ve since reflected on this and realise that we can’t consider the technological developments in online video without thinking about a more fundamental question: what do we best do with online video for advertisers? The growth in platforms, inventory and technology is one facet of this question, but what’s obvious in hindsight is there is another big question – what kind of content is most appropriate for brands online. And its arguably the one, fundamental question we should answer before we think about platforms & delivery.

Clearly this is a question every brand needs to tackle individually, but in a broad sense much of what a platform like Videology does is putting TV ads, made for TV, alongside a mix of long and short-form video online. And it’s often seen as a relatively small incremental part of a TV plan, something we should do because, well, we can. Of course it could also have something to do with web publishers and video platforms clearly wanting a slice of the TV budget pie. The question of whether, and to what extent, TV ads in VOD platforms add reach or depth to TV campaigns still hasn’t really been resolved. And according to broadcast specialists ‘traditional‘ TV reaches audiences more efficiently, at greater volume, more rapidly than any VOD platform can.

So I think we need to start defining in more explicit terms how online video enhances or complements total brand communications. This could take many forms:  cleverly tailored audience-specific versions of TV ads, extended content for particularly gratuitous TV films or practically useful extensions to TV campaigns like how-to videos. For one of our agency clients, Sainsbury’s, for example, we often complement TV ads like this with more practical content like this.

This clearly has implications for how creative agencies plan to produce a suite of enhanced content alongside a TV ad, but it’s a question we need to tackle in order to best leverage the technological ‘face’ of online video to create the best possible marriage of targeting technology and targeted content.

Posted by Mark W. Holden, @holdenmw

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