Brands are significantly increasing their investment in online video, but not all this new money is being spent wisely. When a market expands as rapidly as online video has, there are bound to be some red herrings. Right now, some serious mistakes are being made in the way that brand videos are being distributed.
Online video may be the fastest-growing medium of all time – spend was up by around 25% year-on-year in 2012 – but if it wants to continue to grow, it needs to deliver for agencies and, most importantly, clients.
What this means is that brands don’t want to discover their messages are untargeted, have appeared against poor quality content, or that they were costing up to 10 times what they should have expected to pay on an eCPM basis.
The reality, though, is that often the responsibility for this state of affairs lies with the marketers themselves. All too often they allocate a significant chunk of their precious marketing budgets to viral video companies in the hope that they can become the next Evian Roller Skating Babies or the next Old Spice Man, even when their content is clearly not suitable for this kind of treatment.
Statistics from Touchstorm Research show that only 1 in 500 videos made by brands ever attracts more than 500,000 views in its lifetime. You simply can’t plan for a video to go viral, and most brands surely know their content is extremely unlikely to compare to the classic viral success stories.
It’s also no secret that the margins on viral video campaigns are massive for distributors, and we’ve seen many brands spending six-figure sums over a month, or a couple of months, on this kind of campaign. Much of that money is simply being wasted – it’s untargeted, unregulated and unsafe.
While intelligent video distribution clearly has a valuable place in the marketing toolkit, no brand should be spending tens of thousands of pounds getting their TV commercial randomly scattered across the internet. Many are running on units set to AutoPlay, so it’s questionable whether these “views” are ever seen, let alone completed.
Online video is at its most effective when its distribution is carefully aligned with the business strategy and targeted to fulfil a specified objective.
Targeted video also allows brands to understand important metrics, such as completion rates and actual targeted audience composition. It gives brands the data that allows them to optimise future campaigns based on real, actionable insights.
Viral video simply doesn’t do this, and what is often its key KPI (total number of video views), is not a useful measure that any brand should be seeking to achieve. It’s a bit like counting clicks as a measure of success – it’s never any brand’s real objective.
Video is often presented as a single advertising solution but actually the term embraces a variety of strategic options, of which video seeding is just one. Brands – and their agencies – need to consider whether pre-roll, mid-roll or catch-up TV, for example, are right for them.
They need to assess which platforms – tablets, mobiles or PCs, as well as connected TVs – are being used by their target group and work out how to combine these platforms and formats to deliver highly-targeted mass reach. Importantly, they need to be able to ad-decision in real-time between all of those devices, through one single delivery source, to achieve optimum reach and overall efficiency.
Brands also still need to actively decide what kind of content they want their brand to appear against. These days, the UK video market now hosts premium video content to suit all brand requirements, at a variety of price points. Equally though, it has plenty of other content that isn’t brand safe or desirable. Many viral campaigns end up including both because the key campaign goal of achieving video views doesn’t discriminate.
Statistics show that 85% of internet consumers regularly watch online video, so the power of the medium cannot be argued. However, brands also need to be reassured that they will reach a specific audience, in a safe environment and at an effective price.
Video will continue to attract more brand money. The combination of sight, sound and motion and a more targeted audience than TV can ever hope to deliver makes it a very attractive option.
But please – let’s not waste any more advertising money on a prayer of ‘going viral’ when it just ain’t going to happen.