The word YouTube may have become synonymous with online video, but in reality only 1 in every 4 video views now take place in the YouTube player (source: comScore).
With the emergence of Facebook as a serious rival in the video market this year and the continuing fragmentation of video viewership across platforms and apps as diverse as Tumblr, Snapchat and Keek, that figure is set to further diminish in 2015.
In fact, almost two-thirds of video views are occurring beyond the walled gardens of either Facebook or YouTube; instead they’re taking place on the Open Web. As larger ad budgets move across to programmatic video – the fastest growing category of programmatic ad spend, according to eMarketer – brands are learning how to leverage programmatic tools and data to access the Open Web at speed and scale in order to maximize social sharing on launch and effectively engage their target audience with video content they actually want to watch and share on social.
Oliver Smith, EMEA MD of Unruly, gives his top tips on powering up with programmatic.
Rule #1 This is social video – don’t be anti-social!
If you’re building a long-term relationship with consumers, you want to be social, not anti-social. This means creating content that people actually want to watch and share. Content that genuinely makes an emotional connection and starts a conversation. Then make sure it’s shareable across your programmatic buys.
Putting the consumer in control is key. Use DSPs which give you access to social inventory and avoid anti-social display and pre-roll units that force consumers to watch your ads.
Think skippable pre-roll rather than interruptive pre-roll, click-to-play video units rather than interstitials or pop-ups that hijack your screen, and on mobile make sure that you’re buying native ads rather than banners that consume valuable on-screen real-estate and drive accidental clicks.
Rule #2 Put anti-fraud measures in place
With programmatic buying, there are new distances between buyers and sellers, making trust, transparency and verification more important than ever. You should only work with vendors who actively monitor both for brand-safe environments and for human traffic, and who are willing to provide guarantees and be held to them by third party verification companies such as Integral Ad Science and Double Verify.
If you’re not comfortable with your brand safety controls, then stay off open exchanges and restrict your buys to private marketplaces and programmatic direct. White lists might feel like a safety blanket but they’re a fools errand on open exchanges, where inventory availability changes on an hourly basis.
Rule #3 Seek viewability guarantees
Earlier this year, comScore reported that fewer than half of all video ads are seen by humans. So I would recommend considering the following guidelines:
- Only choose formats that guarantee viewability;
- Buy on viewability or seek % viewability guarantees;
- Optimise against viewability as a KPI;
- Choose a measurement vendor that’s MRC accredited such as MOAT;
- Understand the difference between display viewability and video viewability (with video, viewability is defined as at least 50% of the ad being in view for at least 2 continuous seconds).
Rule #4 Integrate TV and digital buying
TV and digital video shouldn’t be siloed. In fact, research from the IAB and Nielsen found that an integrated approach is more effective and efficient. When it comes to social video in particular, syncing your digital ads with your TV ad schedule can amplify the impact of your TV ad, create significant online conversation and ensure your content is discoverable and shareable online. This is especially important when you consider that around 40% of TV viewers are tuned into a second screen while watching TV.
That said, don’t just mirror TV-type demos when it comes to audience targeting. Use real-time data, from weather and sporting events to pop culture trends, to key into the zeitgeist, use location data and geo-fencing to narrow your focus, and use online behavioural and offline purchasing behaviour to improve performance.
Rule #5 Choose your KPI with care
I know – sometimes it’s really hard to choose the one metric to rule them all but with programmatic audience targeting you can only effectively optimise for one KPI at a time. If it’s reach you’re after, don’t be tempted to optimise for other goals – just optimise for cost efficient reach.
Bear in mind that deeper engagement metrics such as interaction rates and share rates are less susceptible to fraud and gaming than completion rates or viewability rates. For example, set your buy to optimise for completion rate and you could find yourself running autoplaying videos below-the-fold. They deliver the best completion rates because users don’t know they’re there, so they play through without anyone even seeing the ad. The completion metrics will look fantastic but the reality is wasted spend. Why the disconnect? Because machines don’t exercise judgement, they follow rules. Which brings me to the next tip…
Rule #6 Put people at the centre of programmatic campaigns
Campaign quality requires human judgement: maybe this will change one day but for now, we wouldn’t trust a vendor that says “the machine is failsafe/fraudproof”.
It’s important to make sure you have able people monitoring your programmatic video campaign, reviewing media quality too. When a machine optimises for a KPI, it does so blindly and at the expense of everything else.
In addition to requesting details on 3rd party verification and ad safety integrations, ask your video vendor/Agency Trading Desk what people processes they have in place to supplement automated buying and targeting. Are they IAB quality accredited? What similar campaigns have they run? And do they have case studies demonstrating experience of your sector and goals?
Rule #7 Get emotional
Before you launch, look at the emotional impact of your ad. Understand why your audience will connect with your ad. Then you can tune your audience targeting based on emotional response. Because emotion drives sales, as several studies have found.
Rule #8 Use the Open Web to get your video content discoverable and shareable at speed and scale in the first crucial days of a campaign
The speed of sharing has doubled in 2014. With two-thirds of all brand video shares now occurring within the first week of launch it’s more vital than ever to launch hard and fast in this critical launch phase or risk losing out on potential online buzz. Open exchanges, bringing access to giant pools of inventory, can help to spread the word far and fast!
Rule #9 Make social sharing a KPI
Sharing drives earned media, which makes for a more cost-efficient buy. It also correlates with other quality metrics and with brand uplift metrics such as recall, favorability and intent to purchase. Shared video increases viewer enjoyment by 14% which increases purchase intent by 97%, grows brand favorability by 35% and brand recall by 14% (source: Unruly).
Sharing is a lot harder to earn and therefore a lot harder to game than passive metrics such as views, viewability and completion. So make sure shares and share rate are key metrics or at least quality controls when setting up your programmatic campaigns.
Rule #10 Target super-sharers to maximise earned media
Around 80% of video shares online are driven by just 20% of internet users (source: Unruly). So if you want to reach the people driving viral spread, be sure to target ‘super-sharer’ data segments. Re-target the people who have shared your content before and if you’re looking for laser-targeted word of mouth as opposed to a broadcast approach, you can use custom-sharer segments to target viewers who are predisposed to share your specific creative.
Rule #11 Cross-device campaigns are key
Video consumption on mobile has grown at astonishing speed over the last 18 months, with Ooyala predicting mobile video could make up to half of all online video consumption by 2016.
While mobile is getting closer to desktop on price, engagement rates on mobile can be significantly higher, so there are still pockets of value to be had. Last year, the average CTR for Unruly’s mobile campaigns (13.64%) was almost three times that of desktop (5.45%).
Media planning needs to be screen-neutral. Reach is reach, whether you’re hitting up the end-user on their TV, desktop, tablet or phone, or sometimes all at once.
But content and ad formats still need to be thought through sensitively in a multi-device world. Cut through is harder to achieve in the newsfeed than on TV, so the bar on creative quality may be higher. Smart phone screens may be small, but you get more intimacy, greater share of voice and less ad avoidance tactics. You might not get audio, however. You need to think carefully how your video ads work both with and without audio. Subtitling is far from sexy, but it’s going to be a trend in 2015 nonetheless.
Rule #12 Scale your native video advertising
Custom content doesn’t scale, but well-integrated display and video units do. The best way to scale your native video advertising is by using open platforms rather than walled gardens, so you can use first and third party data for audience targeting and so you have flexibility on third party verification. Use platforms that dynamically adjust the shape and style of the content rather than clunkily spawning hundreds of ill-fitting templates. Use video formats with cut-through in social feeds: silently playing video in the mobile news feed is much grabbier and much less manipulative than native 1.0 tactics that resort to sexed up still images and linkbait text.
Programmatic may have created new opportunities and efficiencies for advertisers but it hasn’t yet stemmed the flood of brand content that’s inundating the media landscape and a smart content and distribution strategy are still required to cut through today’s increasingly cluttered media landscape.