5 Building Blocks of a High-Performing Video Ad Campaign

Digital video is the next big opportunity for brands looking to reach and engage with their audiences at scale. eMarketer predicts that that by the end of this year, advertisers will have spent $6 billion on digital video ads—an estimated 9 percent of total media ad spend and a 42% increase from 2013.

While this number is impressive, it’s only part of the story. Based on consumer share of eyeballs—and the fact that digital media presents a rapidly growing ecosystem—brands should be spending more. Here is a guide to help you get started:

Step 1: Understand the Landscape

Based on consumer share of eyeballs, brands should be spending more—much more. According to forecasts from Privately, advertisers have shared with the Adknowledge team that they’d like to see 20-30 percent of TV ad budgets spent on digital video ASAP.

That’s because digital video advertising is highly efficient. In a landscape where audience attention spans are fleeing—and people are highly likely to ignore television commercials—brands want to make sure that they’re making an impact. In parallel, video has become a mainstream activity for audiences on the web. As research compiled by Statistica points out:

  1. There are 195.6 million digital video viewers in the U.S.
  2. 78.4 percent of U.S. Internet users watch online videos
  3. Digital video viewership is expected to grow to 219.5 million U.S. viewers by 2018

Despite the trend data, which suggests that video is reaching audiences at unprecedented scale, advertisers are hesitant to jump in. David Hallerman, principal analyst at eMarketer, sums up why:

“The digital video audience is spread more thinly than a mass television audience, and that segmentation makes digital video ad buys more complex and less reliable than TV advertising. Time spent with digital video is growing significantly, and it’s taking away some TV time, but given the diversity of placements and platforms, digital video viewers are more difficult for advertisers to target.”

Hallerman’s assessment is spot-on; it’s absolutely true that digital audiences are spread thin and that a number of advertisers are vying for the same sets of eyeballs. But the story is far from black and white.

The consumer landscape is becoming increasingly cross-platform, and the brands shying away from video are missing out on a valuable engagement opportunity. The key is to work around, rather than avoid, potential challenges. The following steps explain how.

Step 2: Address Inefficiencies by Combining TV’s Contextual Value with Digital’s Technology Capabilities

1980s TV setTV advertising’s biggest value proposition is the ability to reach consumers based on the show they’re consuming. From an advertising standpoint, the idea makes sense—why not target audiences with a commercial for a home improvement product when they’re watching HGTV?

But TV is also a leaky bucket. You can’t control whether people sit through your ads, and you can’t measure engagement after the fact. So yes, you’re paying for views, but you really don’t know whether those views actually occurred.

That’s where digital comes in. Through techniques like programmatic buying and behavioral targeting, you’ll have access to a wealth of tools for optimizing ROI. You can reach audiences, anywhere online, at the right point in their buying journeys. You can also track how your ads perform—in terms of direct purchases—over the long-term.

Often, advertisers will rely on programmatic buying alone and overlook the contextual value that television brings to the table. This approach, however, will present a major shortcoming. In addition to optimizing efficiency in buying, you need to make sure that your content is aligned with what your audiences are watching.

It takes both sides of the equation to yield and ultimate win.

Step 3: Create Highly Compelling Content

Movie DirectorContent is the heart of a successful video advertising program. Your video campaign should be more than a commercial; it should be a story about a solution that makes your consumers’ lives better.

On the web and on mobile, it’s very easy for audiences to x-out of a window and completely ignore your brand’s message. So don’t make it easy for audiences to ignore you. Instead, give consumers something that they will absolutely love.

To get the process started, you’ll need to define your target audience and core message. What value will audiences derive from watching your video? Which audiences will care?

You could start by choosing dimensions that are demographic (age, gender, household income, geography, occupation, etc.). You might also find that it’s better to seek out audiences with certain traits—for instance, past purchases, interest in similar brands or hobbies.

You may have even generated success with advertising to a particular group in the past; that’s why it’s important to keep re-investing your campaign experiences into a path moving forward. Each campaign, at the end of the day, is part of a larger brand story. It’s up to you to weave that narrative together.

Step 4: Maximize Earned Media

Awesome content generates an echo effect. When online audiences encounter videos that they love, they’ll amplify the value of your media spend by sharing that content. That’s why, in addition to creating video content, you need to create a distribution strategy. There are three steps that your brand can take to maximize earned media:

  1. Create amazing content audiences will love.
  2. Distribute that content across multiple channels where your audience is likely to be engaged. Getting your video to be watched by the right people, with the right format (e.g., pre-roll vs. click-to-play; 15 seconds vs. 90 seconds, etc.), at the right time of day, on the right device (laptop vs. tablet vs. mobile) is also critical.
  3. Some content just doesn’t resonate with consumers, and if you’re seeing that issue, you should stop the media spend on that video ad campaign. Other content resonates well with one audience but crashes and burns with another, so you need to adjust your targeting. That’s why you need to continuously adapt your video content and distribution strategies based on what’s working and what isn’t.

Amplify what works, and redirect your focus from what doesn’t.

Step 5: Protect Your Brand’s Image

Shield: Protect Your BrandThe Internet can be a sketchy, sketchy place—which is why so many advertisers are hesitant to jump into video marketing at all. If you’re reading this blog post, you’ve probably also come across the horror stories; for example, big brands that have accidentally wound-up next to gruesome beheading videos.

But you can’t let the dark side of the Internet deter you from video advertising’s immense potential. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Work with a trusted partner to help you navigate uncharted terrain.
  2. Be hyper-rigorous about ensuring alignment between your content and your brand.
  3. Do not rely on programmatic alone to guide your video marketing strategy.

Final Thoughts

The most successful video marketing programs are built with the guidance of a close human touch. Aim to be efficient, but remember that at the end of the day, you’re reaching audiences on a personal level. Great content—and smart distribution—make an impact. Race to the top, not the bottom.

Originally posted on Oct 29, 2014.

About the Author

Paul Calento

Paul Calento is the co-founder of TriVu Media and a vice president of the channel. He's a veteran of the digital world and has a degree in marketing from Boston University. He's a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan who still doesn't acknowledge the existence of Bucky Dent. Paul is based at Adknowledge's New York City office.

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