Some advice on online advertising
A study commissioned by Veoh Networks through Forrester Consulting reports that a substantial chunk of online video viewers do in fact watch long-form video and that it’s these people who are engaged in online advertising.
It’s pretty self-serving, but according to Forrester, “engaged viewers,” or those who watch more than an hour of online video a week, make up nearly 40% of all online video viewers, and that 40% watches nearly 75% of all online video. These viewers:
– Are more likely to watch videos all the way through
– Pay more attention to online video more than they do TV (thought that one was important to highlight)
– Interact with and rate the videos they watch more frequently
– Are twice as likely to recall in-video ads and post-rolls than non-Engaged Viewers
– Agree more readily that advertising is fair and helps pay for their free experience
– Consider banner ads and ads that come in between videos (mid-rolls) most effective
It seems obvious to me that online video viewers are more engaged. Watching video online is innately a far more engaged activity than watching TV, although that’s changing. I watch online video with intention – someone has sent me a link or I have gone looking for that particular piece of video. TV is something people plunk themselves down in front of.
Both media are moving more toward each other, however. Go to Veoh or Hulu or AOL Video or YouTube or ABC.com and you could waste an entire day surfing through video. And TV is definitely a more targeted experience these days – I tend to watch what I’ve recorded on my TiVo. Unfocused surfing and targeted watching are each available on both media. No matter what medium a viewer is choosing to watch, the important question posed by this study is: how can advertisers best reach these viewers?
While I know people who steadfastly refuse to ingest any form of advertising, I am highly pro advertising. Advertising is what makes the media world go round, and I try to explain this to the resistant – unless you want to pay for everything you hear and watch, you need to embrace the format. And if TiVo takes over the world – and with TiVo subscribership jumping from 20% last year to 28% this year, it will eventually – it is absolutely imperative that advertisers figure out a different but effective way to reach viewers. The 30-second spot certainly isn’t doing it anymore.
I have always been sure that advertisers would find a way – and I remain sure – but the task has gotten more challenging. However, it’s also gotten easier to target viewers with specific advertising, and it’s gotten easier to determine return on investment. The age of carpet-bombing viewers with a message may be coming to an end – with the exception of the occasional Super Bowl, American Idol or Oscars – while the SMART bomb era is underway. That should appeal to advertisers – I would rather know exactly how the advertising on which I am spending money is working for me than just putting it out there and hoping customers come.
This study offers the following suggestions on how to successfully deliver advertising to engaged online viewers:
“1. Think Advertainment, not Advertisement. Engaged video viewers are more open to enjoying the advertising they watch, giving marketers an opportunity to create ads that are as entertaining as the video clips they are paired with. Make the advertising a part of this engaging environment by telling compelling stories rather than consistently repeating the same 30-second spot.”
I would add that it makes sense to create advertising that’s like storytelling. It’s always been a hard combination to master successfully, but if advertisers can work their messages into short online clips that relay a funny but brief narrative, viewers will be more inclined to tune in and stay there.
“2. Active mindset = greater action. Engaged video viewers are more involved in every aspect of the viewing experience, including the advertising. In contrast, watchers who sit down to watch a 1-minute user-generated clip come to the screen with very different mindsets. Consider having multiple creative units depending on the mindset and propensity to engage with the medium.”
“3. Think about all the ad units on the page as a team. All viewers feel advertising can be annoying. But none of them said it had to be annoying. Engaged viewers respond to ad formats that don’t intrude unfairly. Their preference for banner ads supports this. But banner ads can be supported by a comprehensive ad experience that ties display ads, sponsorships, and in-video ads together into a coherent package.”
“4. Target it and they will come. As more viewers spend more than an hour a week viewing online video, it’s time for advertisers and the sites that enable them to start matching ads to viewers more intelligently. The easiest place to do this is with long-form content, where the choice of programming – an episode of one’s favorite tv show – says more about a viewer than a short clip about a dog on a skateboard ever can.”