Advertisers Home in on Standards, Best Practices in Video

Agencies and advertisers are homing in on best practices and processes to optimize their online video campaigns.

During sessions at ClickZ’s Online Video Advertising conference in New York last week, speakers and attendees described their experiences with a channel in which they say spending and business maturity have ballooned, while the contributors to success have become more predictable and measurable than ever.

On the production side, agencies continue to rejigger their organizations to produce better, more interactive creative executions. “We’ve moved beyond that information push format, where we [were] taking offline content and repurposing it,” said Conor Brady, group creative director at Organic, during a morning panel. “Motion designers and technologists are now part of our creative group.”

Organic and fellow interactive shops like AKQA, Deep Focus and R/GA continue to toy around with the interactive capabilities of the medium. They’re building in-house studios, scripting interactive storylines upfront, shooting in high-definition for ultra-high speed Internet connections and booking time with talent early in the campaign planning process.

“How we architect an experience, how we put an experience together, isn’t a flow from top to bottom,” Brady said. “If you’re thinking about the interaction of the piece after you’ve shot the video, you’ve missed the point of how this can be used.”

Client billings have risen with production values, as one might expect, and a greater variety of brands is getting involved. Tribal DDB Executive Creative Director Dorian Sweet presented an elaborate Web experience his agency just launched for client Clorox and several of its brands, including Kingsford charcoal. Sweet said the site, which combines recipes with a self-guided video experience cost between $250,000 and $750,000 to make.

Campaign measurement and site analytics, meanwhile, are subjects of more agreement than debate. Speakers on a measurement panel concurred that, with a few exceptions, the favored metrics for short- and long-format online video are the same ones made popular over the last decade of display ad growth, including factors like reach, impact and response rates. Aimee Irwin, Advertising.com’s VP, video network, said that the firm is doing plenty of traditional research for campaigns placed on its relatively young video network.

“We do a lot of impact studies for our advertisers, where we measure a lift in brand awareness, a lift in message association, and intent to purchase,” she said. “In addition to brand, there’s also influence on behavior. Did consumers visit your site? Did they spend more time on your site?”

Of course, metrics and trackable behaviors unique to video, such as time-spent and click-through rates on companion banners are common barometers, too.

Measurement of cross-media campaigns also came up several times throughout the day, including how to integrate TV’s gross ratings points (GRP) measurement standard with online video ratings. In some cases, said speakers from MediaVest and Nielsen//NetRatings, research and media planning firms are developing proxies by which campaigns can be compared in both media. In other cases, Web advertisers are deemphasizing TV-based ratings.

“They’re rethinking their TV strategies, and the historical method of buying their media, the GRP, may not [prevail],” said Ian Schafer, CEO and founder of Deep Focus. “We’re starting to see traditional media as an extension of digital campaigns.”

Meanwhile, impression volumes are up. Ad.com’s Irwin said the amount of video inventory in AOL’s hulking ad network has steadily increased to the point where marketers “can target more and get larger groups than you were ever able to before.”

Other media reps reported similar gains in impression and campaign volumes. VideoEgg’s video ad player and network now has 100 or so campaigns running, according to its Chief Marketing Officer Troy Young. Clients include mostly big name advertisers like Verizon and Sony Pictures film “Superbad,” but he also showed an ad for a small convenience store chain called Mack.

Still, aside from a smattering of campaigns for local or small budget advertisers, most video ads on display promoted monster brands in the entertainment, financial, automotive and CPG sectors, including a Nissan campaign created by AKQA and Microsoft Ad Solutions placements for Old Spice.

Yet to judge from the audience in attendance at the event, it may be direct response marketers are about to get serious about video. Angus Glover Wilson, president of dComm, a “digital commerce agency” told ClickZ his agency is actively pursuing direct marketing clients interested in launching video campaigns. During the measurement panel, another audience member shared his experience creating and placing his first online video ad, on Google’s AdSense platform. “Google measures the play rate, click rate and reaches into my Web site to measure the conversion rate,” he said.

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