New technologies are now removing the operational barriers to integrating motion and relevance to the most challenging product offerings.
This was the timely advice given by Dr. Alan Grant as he and a child stared eye-to-eye with a carnivorous Tyrannosaurus rex in the classic movie "Jurassic Park." It seems that T.rex's tiny brain was wired to see only motion, a condition that made it easy for the giant dinosaur to spot scurrying prey, but unable to see educated paleontologists.
It turns out that we humans are wired similarly. As we evolved on the open savannah thousands of years ago, our brains learned that motion could mean we were about to become lunch at the hands of some prehistoric cat. Motion draws our eye.
If T. rex was wired to move toward motion, we were wired to quickly size it up as a threat, as food, or just blowing grass. Our brains are relevance engines.
Video Delivers Motion Plus Relevance
The use of motion alone as a ploy to catch the eye has had its day on the Internet. The days of using dancing aliens to draw our attention to banner ads for mortgages are waning. When everything moves in our online savannah, we can feel "attacked" by the ads we see. For us, motion must be combined with relevance to both get our attention and engage us.
A T. rex would probably click on any video ad we offered, if only its little arms could reach the mouse. Humans offer a bit more of a challenge.
For consumers, the key to engagement is relevance. When our ancestors detected movement out of the corner of their eye, a quick analysis of the situation helped us decide what to do. A sabertooth tiger got very high relevance in our mind. A tasty rabbit would come in a close second. This way of processing motion goes with us when we surf the Web.
Video offers this combination of motion and a quick way for us to determine relevance. It delivers a new relevance hierarchy, where the sabertooth has been replaced with Lady Gaga and the rabbit with the newest electronic gadget.
Naturally, retailers are interested in using video on the Web. Forrester Research reports that 68 percent of retailers are using video in retail. Eighty-four percent of Internet users now watch video online, spending an average of 10 hours a month doing so. EMarketer predicts video ad spending to increase at a rate of 40 percent per year, while banner advertising will grow at only 4 percent per year.
The Cost of Video
In the near term, early adopters have an advantage if they're willing to invest. Barriers still exist to implementing video content. Chronic early mover Zappos, who claims to see a 6 percent to 30 percent increase in sales when demo videos are added to its product pages, is investing in 10 studios, aiming to produce 50,000 videos in 2010.
That's not cheap, and Zappos is talking about relatively static demo videos. Video ads have to deal with the frequent changing of product lines and seasonal price fluctuations. Advertisers will need lots of video studios.
The Cost of Relevance
In the online sales conversion game, specificity is the hallmark of relevance. A new line of blinds are relevant to a consumer remodeling their home. Those blinds at a sale price are even more relevant. Those blinds at a sale price in the desired color and in stock now may even beat Lady Gaga on the relevance scale. Specificity in our ads generates sales.
In many categories, traditional video can't keep up with changing products, styles, and pricing. It takes too long to produce video and it's expensive to create. This is what Tal Even of Dynamic Video calls an "operational nightmare."
Retailers investing heavily in online behavioral advertising are also those with the biggest video ad challenges:
Dynamic Video offers the relevance of timely, specific offers in an ad unit that integrates motion and video. For an advertiser, this means being able to change ads displaying across a variety of networks by simply changing parameters in a shopping feed.
Example: Ad generated from Shopzilla API and contextual data from CorticaImage2Text
In March, I talked about the importance of marrying landing pages to each ad to maximize conversion rates. With real-time ad assembly from a feed, I can provide links to targeted pages that deliver exactly what the visitor expects.
An automated ad creation capability, combined with automated product feeds offers the equivalent of having real-time video studios scattered across the adsphere. Dapper.net is a natural fit for this, with technology that pulls product images, pricing, and descriptions right from a retailer's site and pumps the information out onto an XML feed.
All you would have to do is change a product on your site, and the ads you are running across your spendscape will morph instantly. Technology ecosystems like this should spark the interest of the hands-on advertiser and DIY marketer.
Product selection can be done with contextual or behavioral data extracted from the page being viewed. The example shows a dynamic ad that chose product offers from the Shopzilla API based on keywords extracted by Cortica from images on the page.
Video is proving to be a fabulous tool for advertisers and publishers. Advertisers get better results and publishers charge premium rates. New technologies are now removing the operational barriers to integrating motion and relevance to the most challenging product offerings.
Thanks to Tal Even, VP of marketing and business development at Dynamic Video for his help on this column.
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With 15 years of online marketing experience, Brian has designed the digital strategy and marketing infrastructure for a number of businesses, including his own technology consulting company, Conversion Sciences. He built his company to transform the Internet from a giant digital-brochure stand to a place where people find the answers they seek. His clients use online strategies to engage their visitors and grow their businesses. Brian has created a series of Web strategy workshops and authors the Conversion Scientist blog. Brian works from Austin, Texas, a place where life and the Internet are hopelessly intertwined.
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