‘Adjust’ Your Video Strategies for Better Results

High-quality video inventory and advanced measurement and analytics tools are driving the growth and maturation of video advertising. The sight, sound, and motion of online video are attracting brands of all sizes, but the entertainment industry is leading the charge and getting the most out of the channel.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Martin, SVP of media at Ignited. He oversees digital media planning and buying for some of the world’s most recognizable entertainment brands including Hollywood studios, network TV, and cable channels. Recently, his work has included digital video campaigns to promote the release of Universal Pictures’ “The Adjustment Bureau.” I was interested to hear how online video advertising is creating new opportunities – or challenges for the entertainment industry to reach and engage their audiences.

Mike Baker: What are your biggest barriers to spending more on online video?

Dave Martin: We work with many high-profile entertainment and travel brands, so scale, quality, and security are requirements. But it’s a real trade off. We love the audience quality and brand security of buying pre-roll directly from publishers, but it’s difficult to achieve consistent scale. We need the reach and efficiency that you can only get from DSPs. They help us achieve scale and better returns on our ad spend, but some DSPs don’t always provide the quality we need. And, some ad networks can deliver on brand security and scale, but they can’t provide audience quality.

We’ve also witnessed some “black hat” operations on the back-end of a few campaigns. For example, pre-roll tags were converted to in-banner tags, and our video ads eventually ran on auto-start below the fold, with the sound off. Bait-and-switch antics like this are very concerning, and reduce confidence in video as a viable channel for brands.

(MB) What are the primary success criteria you look at for video campaigns? Clicks? Completions? Conversions?

(DM) We measure cost per video completion as our primary success metric. Online conversions don’t particularly matter for movies or television since the actual consumer decisions take place offline; however, unique reach and frequency do matter to us. Clicks are a tertiary metric, so we’re looking at them less and less. When possible, we like to look at earned media impressions and social engagement metrics including Tweets, Facebook “likes,” comments, shares, and other links that are an indication of the viral nature of our content. Together, this information helps us to define future strategies.

[MB] Where do you primarily buy video inventory, and what criteria do you use to evaluate your video inventory suppliers?

[DM] We have a strict audit that we put all of our video partners through. Primarily, they must sell on a performance basis (CPV, CPVC, CPE); offer verification as added value through a third party; and provide full transparency from buying through reporting. Our partners may never broker our impressions to a third, or fourth party. To satisfy our brand safety concerns, they must also be able to black-list and white-list sites. And finally, our partners must provide an array of targeting capabilities, including contextual, behavioral, retargeting, and demographic targeting.

[MB] You can buy video inventory from ad networks already—what is the advantage of buying video through demand side platforms (DSPs)?

[DM] There are many advantages to buying video through a DSP. They simply deliver the best value for your advertising spend. Many of our entertainment clients like to cherry pick and bid on individual ad impressions. Automatic real-time optimization on key metrics like completion rate, click-to-play, and sharing is a huge benefit as well. We also frequently leverage the ability to pull in third-party data for advanced targeting.

[MB] How do you decide whether to use in-stream or in-page video? Are there real differences when running campaigns?

[DM] Price is a major factor in that decision. Pre-roll is not what we consider “user-initiated,” and should cost a lot less than a video view that actively captures user intent and interest. In-banner video only really works for our campaigns if it is available on a cost per view (CPV) or cost per engagement (CPE) basis. In those cases we’re willing to pay a little more for the view than we would for in-stream video views. We also like our ads to run in the largest possible video player because it delivers a superior consumer experience compared to watching an in-banner video.

[MB] Looking ahead 12-18 months, how do you see video advertising evolving? Any big disruptions on the way?

[DM] Standards for delivery and verification will become more mainstream, and drive growth in audience buying with in-stream video or performance-based in-banner video on video DSPs. I also see the tablet becoming a much more viable platform for video advertising as more content is distributed on a wider variety of mobile devices. The growth of digital video advertising through platforms like GoogleTV, Apple TV, Roku, Netflix, and connected TVs in general will start to gain noticeable traction. As we move past next year’s network TV upfronts, the combination of higher DVR penetration (we’re at 41% today) and the economic recovery, will give advertisers more confidence to shift more of their TV budget to video.

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