Advertisers Seek Sleeker Alternatives to YouTube

While YouTube is still the best video platform for introducing consumers to new products and converting them to purchase, according to a recent study, advertisers are also seeing strong responses to content on video sharing platforms like Vimeo and on-demand platforms like Hulu.

In a panel discussion hosted by Horizon Media and YuMe, Rob Rasmussen, chief creative officer of Story Worldwide, said that while he recognizes the utility of YouTube as a marketing platform, he much prefers the cleaner aesthetics of Vimeo. On YouTube, “noise” like comments and suggestions “pulls away from content,” Rasmussen said, while Vimeo is a platform for “beautiful content that feels closer to television.”

Elizabeth Luciano, vice president of marketing and brand strategy of A&E, said that the network has seen success on YouTube as a “testing ground to see what works.” For example, the network used YouTube’s TrueView ad format, in which viewers can skip pre-roll ads after five seconds, to gauge interest in a new reality show. However, she says that much of the network’s ad content works best on Hulu, where Luciano says “ads really resonate,” and even work to bring in audiences outside A&E’s target demographic.

As brands face a backlash from viewers who are more averse to video than ever, advertisers must look to video on demand as a guide for adapting to consumers who see video advertisement as disruptive. “Content on demand is richer,” said David Hallerman, principal analyst for eMarketer, and to compete, “brands must create branded content of real value. When consumers see the value, it will become welcome.”

One way to create welcome video content is to focus on do-it-yourself tutorials. Rasmussen said that even ad-resistant Millennials will seek out branded content if it offers advice. One example he used was men’s grooming, a market he expects will grow in coming years. Millennial men are uncomfortable asking peers for advice, so they often turn to YouTube for instructional videos. Rasmussen says brands that offer instruction “begin a sharing process,” opening themselves up for reviews, opinions, and discourse.

Another way to overcome audience resistance to video content, according to Rasmussen, is to “create content that isn’t trying to disguise itself, but can just be engaging.” He said that marketers have become hesitant to even say the word “ad,” but that if advertisers can find a way to create content that adds value instead of noise, audiences will naturally seek out brands and engage.

The panel agreed that soon, the industry may face a saturation point in what Rasmussen termed the “digital content arms race.” Services like Snapchat that offer temporary content are “more fluid” and able to be filtered into what users want to see. As the industry moves away from disruptive content and toward native, Snapchat could very well look like the future.

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