What do I think will be a game changer for digital marketing in 2011? Without question: online video. Online video is no longer experimental. It will be a necessary component to any major brand's online media strategy.
Over the last few years the online video space has been building great momentum: consumers gaining broadband access, publishers responding with more video content, advertisers testing the waters with in-banner and "viral" executions, media platforms sharpening their technology, and the IAB standardizing metrics and implementations. It wasn’t too long ago that we were debating whether the preroll or overlay was going to be the primary means to monetize video content. These days the dialogue has shifted to focus on what new ways we can leverage video to create deeper connections with our users, track ad engagement and take creative interactions to a new, more immersive level.
As video channels have been slowly growing and infrastructure has been building in the background, the video space is finally reaching the point of critical mass. We’re on the verge of that all important tipping point; video is poised to explode in 2011 and here are 3 key reasons why.
Online video supply is growing exponentially
Historically it has been a challenge to (reliably) access audiences at scale through online video media. Of course, lack of consistent supply made it very difficult for the medium to be embraced as a staple on digital plans.
Today, there’s not a major broadcast network that doesn’t make its programming available online. And cable companies are following suit. The growth of supply is accelerating. And if you “put it out there”, they will come...right?
More and more, people are turning to the Web to consume their “television” content. And the iPad, a force of astonishing proportions, is doing wonders to further this trend along. People are on the go, and their online experiences (and favourite shows) are along for the ride. All in all, consumers are getting more comfortable watching online video content on their computers and mobile devices.
Of equal importance, accessibility of this growing supply is starting to develop. Pure video networks and display networks with extended video capabilities are stepping up with creative solutions and tools to provide streamlined access to scalable, targetable video supply, all of which is making it easier for marketers to embrace video as a channel that can actually be planned around. The standard flash display unit of the past is becoming increasingly rich, opening up literally billions of video-enabled display impressions daily to the pool. Marketers challenged with the scarcity of video supply aligned to their desired audience will no longer face that problem. Budgets in turn will continue to shift online.
Audience? Check. Scale? Check.
Online video is measurable to the Nth (and growing) degree
As budgets are being scrutinized more closely than ever, the beauty of video is its measurability. It’s hard to quantify how many people actually saw your 30 second spot and didn’t use the time to grab a snack or take a potty break. In stark contrast, the insights marketers can glean from this new breed of video-based advertising are stretching the boundaries of what is technologically possible. Emerging video platforms provide opportunities to measure views, drop off points and customized interactions with your ad. That all adds up to powerful insights that can fuel future strategy and creative planning.
Moreover, online video lends itself to creative executions that you simply cannot deliver through television, “Choose Your Experience” being the greatest recent discovery in the video world. Just because we’re interrupting a user with a preroll doesn’t mean we should restrict them of all choice. Provide choice, and users will feel empowered. They’ll also be more likely to actively consume your advertising, and far more likely to recall it.
Online video is the new “television”
It’s a medium that delivers on the emotional draw of the television experience, and takes it one step further by opening the door to immediate interaction with your audience. The mounting availability of pre-roll and other video-capable supply offers a smart (digital) alternative for marketers who are struggling with how to shift TV budgets into the digital space. While it can hold its own as a standalone marketing channel, it can also be used in conjunction with the more traditional methods to achieve a louder voice in this highly fragmented and crowded global marketplace.
While online video is poised to explode, marketers will face a very real challenge during their transition to this new breed of video-based messaging: the rules of TV don't seamlessly transition to the interactive world. After all, traditional TV by nature is not interactive. The context is different and so is the consumer, so video online will need to be approached differently. It will require a re-imagination of the tried and true 30 second spot that takes full advantage of the opportunities this captivating medium can have for your brand. But, for online video to really soar in 2011, advertisers will need to buy into a digital version of traditional TV ratings. The gap between offline and online measurement has long been a hurdle to brand’s fully embracing the digital space. Nielsen’s recently announced, Online Campaign Ratings, or a similar service, may just be the silver bullet marketers have been waiting for. Time will tell, but this is another big X factor that I feel we are on the verge of resolving.
If you're interested in online video and want to learn more about its successful application as a branding tool I encourage you to checkout Video Everywhere - Deep Brand Integration in Online Video on November 4. This session promises an enlightening showcase of online video innovation. Hope to see you there.