The Online Community Needs More Progressive Videos

I have been reminded repeatedly by senior executives in the ad industry that TV and newspaper remain as the first, if not, preferred choices by advertisers to maximise the reach of their products and services. While the trend for these traditional media channels is declining in Asia Pacific, the share of traditional ad expenditure vis-à-vis other channels such as the Internet remains above 50 percent since 1997.

One will argue that this reach is a result of the limited broadcast spectrum and newspaper licenses issued by the regulatory bodies of each country, thereby allowing owners of each respective media to develop what I define as “messaging distribution channels” that reach individuals in an economic manner.

It is obvious the two mediums transform and communicate the ad message in a different mode. TV has the capacity to deliver the ad message in a multimedia format that encapsulates the visual and audio elements that are creatively expressed in 30 to 60 seconds (or other formats dictated by TV stations as the standard ad unit). This visceral creative in the video ad seeks to invoke viewers’ emotions, raising awareness of the advertiser, and inspire them to make a spontaneous follow-up action after viewing the ad.

Given the deliberate thought process that goes into the development of the video ad (not to mention the production cost that rises in tandem with the creative effort), it is sometimes frustrating to see video ads being stymied by the lack of reach from broadcasting stations that segments the daily programming schedule into different time belts with varying ad rates. Accordingly, advertisers with restricted budgets can run their video ads in limited frequency in the time belts that are most widely watched by viewers. Alternatively, advertisers can run their video ads in other time belts with relatively lesser audience but at a higher frequency.

Not surprisingly, many progressive advertisers have since turned to the Internet to distribute, create, and share their creative video productions. The most popular online video distribution channel has to be YouTube and Vimeo with agencies such as Ogilvy Asia uploading their video productions onto these online sites. Another source will be niche advertising portals such as eYeka, which offers crowdsourcing opportunities for advertisers seeking to create original video advertisements from non-traditional creative sources. Finally, social media sites such as Facebook have allowed the online community to share video advertisements (uploaded online) which appealed to them, which inadvertently increased the reach of these video advertisements to an extended target audience. For example, I have to thank my Facebook network who shared great video ads from TC Bank in Taiwan, TMB Bank in Thailand, and Coca-Cola in the Philippines. Clearly, I will never have the opportunity to view what I consider to be well-produced video ads if I weren’t informed by my Facebook network.

It seems the advertiser has an economic solution to distribute their video ads that sufficiently meet their objectives of maximising reach. However, I would argue advertisers should now consider the influence of social media as the next evolution of online video advertisement. This means we integrate the elements of social media into the production of the video ad so as to take advantage of this digital medium.

What does this mean? The advantage of social media lies in the power to influence or instigate the viral effect of a message (which includes advertising). Accordingly, the creative development of a social video should involve piquing the interest of the target audience, rather than communicating a direct message. This is an evolutionary change that will probably deter some advertisers as it risks missing the opportunity to deliver the supposed message to the audience. Yet, I would argue the online user today is more discerning than before and is usually sceptical at any ad message that interrupts their online experience. As such, the challenge to advertisers and creative agencies is to develop a video advertisement that really sets the people talking. This “talking” is expressed through the many online forums – Facebook, online community walls, and personal blogs. This is the viral effect, if harnessed properly, will have a positive multiplier effect on the level of awareness associated with the advertiser. More importantly, individuals with a strong social network have inadvertently become the advertiser’s ambassador by extending the distribution of the video ad to their network. Thus, the collective viral effect would generate the word-of-mouth effect that translates into higher reach for the same video ad.

One case study that jumps out for me is by Singapore’s Ministry of Education, which ran an online campaign to promote the recruitment of teachers in the country. While the three minute video ad was broadcast on free-to-air channels in Singapore (reinforcing the earlier mentioned argument of television maximising reach vis-à-vis digital), the same video was uploaded onto YouTube.

Hence, the Internet is an alternative video ad channel and the economics is definitely more compelling than television. What is recommended, however, is for advertisers to take advantage of the social media element in their video production process. A carefully thought-out advertisement will achieve a multiplier effect to extend the reach of the advertiser. As the start of this posting suggests, it is the objective of the advertiser to maximise reach, and this is certainly one way to do so.

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Overhead view of a row of four business people interviewing a young male applicant.