Video Strategies From the Pros

The mood at last week’s ClickZ Online Video Advertising Forum was one of cautious optimism. As my ClickZ colleague Anna Maria Virzi wrote post-event, advertisers are playing it safe, even in the face of countless opportunities.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t using online video, though, and coming up with some highly creative ways to connect with consumers through this versatile medium.

Just as marketers have two primary options for buying video ads — aggregator sites like YouTube and branded properties that develop their own video content that advertisers can sponsor — we can employ a couple of different strategies for our video campaigns.

Perhaps the most popular tactic is purchasing a placement tied to existing video content. This approach encompasses standard video formats like pre-, mid-, and post-roll ads, in-banner video, and overlays. It can also include custom video placements that reside on a publisher’s site, even if they’re ultimately repurposed for external or third party site advertising and long-term brand-site placement.

Best practices include keeping promotional video relevant to the video content it’s aligned with, and incorporating the ability to pause video content into the ad. Careful analysis of ad behavior is also important to campaign success; during the Online Video Advertising strategy session, Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, shared that interaction rates with one ad were 30 percent higher when the video began playing immediately upon the user’s arrival at the site page.

Marketers relying on video are also keen on sponsorships, wherein the content is “brought to you by” a select advertiser. Apart from the advertiser’s intro video clip, the content is delivered to the site user uninterrupted for a seamless online video experience.

One practice to avoid is repeating the same video ad throughout a single online program. However relevant it might be to the content and however enamored consumers might be with video in general, site users will quickly grow weary of this kind of redundancy. According to Bobby Tulsiani, a JupiterResearch analyst, also present at the forum, research has shown that consumers actually prefer fewer ads to shorter ones.

Where video campaign analysis is concerned, the consensus among industry experts is that determining your measurement metrics prior to campaign launch is key. Every campaign is custom built, and so too should be the measurement approach used to determine a video effort’s ROI (define).

During the Measuring Success session, panelists pointed out the importance of also analyzing returns beyond the media buy. Social networking, peer-to-peer, and word-of-mouth distribution post-campaign can also be indicative of additional impact that might not be immediately apparent, or evident through traditional measurement tactics.

As an alternative to a video media buy, marketers can create standalone video campaigns that are as much product or service information sites as they are advertising efforts. Among the examples cited at the forum were the UPS Whiteboard site created and produced by IQ Interactive, and My Home 2.0, a reality series promoting the Verizon FiOS service that plays out offline and in online video clips, created by Campfire.

Speaking to the general atmosphere online, experts at Creative Innovation said consumers expect much more from online video than they used to. As they come to feel more empowered by the massive amounts of video options that exist to them (as well as by video advertising that encourages interaction and affords more user control), they anticipate a higher quality of video product. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of interactive agencies and entertainment production houses turned online video specialists eager to provide a high caliber of advertising assets.

What’s your favorite marketing tool or service? Which one made your campaign a success? We want to know! Nominate your choice in the 2008 ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards. Nominations are open until August 14. Nominate now!

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