Advertisers on YouTube now have an option where they only pay when a viewer engages with the pre-roll ad. It’s a bold way to get digital marketers to move confidently into the medium since, like Google Paid Search, it’s more accountable. Here’s the YouTube blog post about this new format called “True View.”
Since most content is too short for the new option (similar to Hulu’s format, viewers get to pick a long preroll or several short ad interruptions), the more interesting of these two new offerings is the “instream” 5 & 15/30 format. You watch 5 seconds, and then you decide if you’ll continue watching the rest of the ad (15/30 seconds). That means creators/publishers will make no revenue on those who abandon. But the format will no doubt demand a higher premium (per click) for those who choose to engage.
This also means advertisers should do a better job of giving the consumer a REASON to continue. The first 5 seconds should certainly mention the brand (free exposure like the “reminder” effect of unclicked paid-search ads). But most advertisers who want deeper engagement or direct response will want to use those first 5 seconds to PITCH THE AD.
For instance, “find out why this kitten is crying” would compel me to finish the ad. Or “be one of the first to own what’s in this box” is a nice teaser. Eventually when the format is less novel, the “calls to continue” will need to be better.
…given how different this is from what most consumers are used to, it may be a bit too early to gauge how well these ads are actually working — users may be skeptical of hitting the skip button at all because they’ve never seen it before.
It should be obvious that this is an additive option not a replacement of your traditional 15-30 second preroll. If it was my choice, I’d move to it quickly a) to learn, and b) to see if there’s a better ROI on them, c) to take advantage of the novelty factor. Then again, I’m biased. I’m making money from these. So frankly, I hope you buy whatever’s most expensive. But I hope you also get an ROI on it.
“Video advertising is still ‘in its diapers’… you gotta remember that most people don’t want to see ads” said eMarketer’s David Hallerman in a webcast last Thursday (October 21, 2010). eMarketer provided highlights from a report (“Video Advertisement Engagement: What Marketers Need to Know”) in the one-hour webinar, and slides are excerpted from that.
Hallerman says online-video is the most expensive form of digital advertising, and skews toward professional content not user-generated. He explores both the definitions and forms of engagement. Per the chart on the right, awareness is still the #1 goal of marketers followed closely by engagement (according to an April 2010 study by Tremor Media of 98 advertisers/agencies).
So what is engagement? Some say it’s paying attention, others refer to interactivity, and still others refer to what happens afterwards.
I’d prefer to focus on what Hallerman calls server based data (a view, start-rate, completion time, mouse-over, sharing) and not survey data (like “brand health” metrics like awareness or intent, reported by Insight Express or Dynamic Logic). However those “brand health” metrics can be vital to determining “intent to buy,” which is often not captured by server metrics (although some cookies provide advertisers data about purchases that occur long after a video view).
Engagement metrics include:
Interactivity (clicking ad or mousing over): Scanscout’s cost-per-engagement. Hallermans says there’s an increasing desire among marketers for interactive pre-rolls.
Sharing or commenting
Interactions, experience (Forbes)
Context is also important… an auto-roll on gaming or entertainment site is not going to be as powerful as a self-directed and completed video on a shopping site. Hallerman reminds us that consumers value HD (above many other factors) and that quality (original versus repurposed) is vital, and that’s an important insight. During the Q&A Hallerman later acknowledged that some studies are showing that repurposed television commercials are faring better than once expected.
eMarketer projects continued growth of the medium as depicted above — reaching at least $5.5 billion by 2014. But when it comes to online-video ad views, all video sites aren’t created equally (comScore, Sept. 30, 2010). The report shows that “ads per viewer” on Hulu is more than seven times higher than Google/YouTube sites. See the rank of video-advertising properties, and Hulu tops followed by Brightcove and Tremor Media (both which serve ads on websites not exclusively devoted to video content). At 30 ads per viewer per month, it’s no wonder Hulu is considering cutting its monthly subscription in half.
Time per month per viewer on YouTube is nearly twice that of Hulu, despite Hulu’s content being generally longer (22 minute shows versus 2-3 minute videos). Hallerman refers to Hulu’s experience as “lean back” because we allow the show “to wash over” us, whereas other sites (YouTube) require a more “lean forward” experience. Marketers, says Hallerman, are looking for what they know from broadcast advertising — pre or mid-rolls played “in stream” during a video’s view.
Marketers choose ad-networks to target online-video ads based on two factors: demographic or content. A beauty ad on Break.com, Hallerman explains, won’t likely get high engagement. As for viral?
“…You don’t just make something go viral,” Hallermans says. “It’s really a whole process that needs a blend of paid, owned and earned.” He provides the recent Old Spice example, which involved paid ads on television and the web, a microsite showing more content, and “earned” media where video answers responded to specific bloggers. He credits the paid ads were the “spark.”
Aside from viral or its own reason, here are what some marketers claim to have accomplished on YouTube. So one in five (20%) say their YouTube videos have driven sales via links. But recognize that the data are not saying that happens twenty percent of the time- it’s usually in the low single digits in my experience.
Branded content (where the marketing is not “heavy handed” and is “almost a bi-product”) is the most effective forms of marketing according to an October 2010 report by the CMO Council. Branded content tops more traditional online advertising models or even database-driven behavioral marketing. Video content, for instance, about dogs with dog-food product placement… may have a greater impact than dog-food ads alone. “Creating an experience,” Hallerman says, “is hard but important.” These can be tracked by brand-equity scores. He provides another example of a hair-care product that might show entertaining or educational fashion tips (focusing on benefits) rather than advertising about the product (features).
During the eMarketer webcast, EyeWonder shared “server side” data that show higher engagement rates for ads in the financial sector, with travel or electronics on the low side of engagements. EyeWonder showed a case study involving Gatorade’s G Series, which featured a 15-second ad that allows customers to see how the beverage helps before, during and after an athletic event. The click-thru rate was a tame .13%, but the a video completion rate was an impressive 62% across all of the impressions.
Hallerman was asked to comment on how to make a video more likely to be viral, but said if he had the answer he’d be working at an agency. Perhaps he just needs a copy of “Beyond Viral.” 🙂
GE launched a health campaign today on YouTube that is part of trend toward softer advertising that, I believe, will have better long-term dividends even if it’s hard to measure.
GE is taking a lightly branded approach to promoting health and wellness by sponsoring a “Healthymagination” challenge among people on YouTube. There’s very subtle branding from GE, and no “drive to healthymagination.com” play. In fact the company is not trying to build a microsite, and is aggregating commissioned videos on Howcast’s YouTube channel. Now millions of people will watch and participate in health-challenge videos by iJustine, Alphacat, Rhett & Link, Smosh, me and other YouTube people with large followings.
This is about as far from an intrusive yet measurable pre-roll advertisement as you can get, but GE’s brand will now be associated with health — broadly across a number of demographics.
As someone participating in this health challenge, I am certainly biased. So let’s look instead at Pfizer’s YouTube homepage advertising “takeover” in January, which was centered around videos the company commissioned about health and fitness. The promoted brand (Chantix for smoking cessation) was present but not “in your face.” The insight that may have spawned this approach? Smokers aren’t exactly going to dive into a video channel about quitting.
In a current campaign with a similar “hands off” approach, Rhett and Link’s I Love Local Commercials campaign was sponsored by Microbilt. But the video series is a celebration of cheesy local ads for small business (Microbilt’s target). There’s no forced messages about how Microbilt offers credit, debt collection or background screening to small businesses. People can get excited about cheesy commercials or health (especially when a charity benefits). But it’s hard to get jazzed about debt collection, smoking cessation or light bulbs. It’s the same reason I used Mr. Complicated to promote Clear Point (who cares about staffing technology?).
Brian Bradley, MicroBilt’s EVP of Strategy & Emerging Markets, acknowledges it’s hard to put an ROI on programs like this (parenthetically I addressed this topic on Tuesday at a marketing conference, and here’s the deck).
“Although the initial work that lead to “I Love Local Commercials” was very spontaneous, it is part of a body of work at MicroBilt focused on building awareness and establishing thought leadership across market segments, ” Bradley told me via e-mail. “So that our traditional marketing and sales efforts are more successful.” Bradley said, for example, that if his sales people call a business prospect who hasn’t heard of MicroBilt, they can quickly find out it’s a real company.
It’s tempting for us marketers to force our brand so we can realize (or assume) a near-term ROI. But sometimes the most effective long-term strategy is to have a gentle presence while something bigger, more interesting, and more entertaining takes center stage. This is more instinctive to corporate communication or public-relations people, but they’re generally without budgets to sustain even small pilots like these.
The results may not show up in website visits, instant purchase, and awareness/recall studies. But I would argue that test/control or pre/post qualitative studies (while being cost prohibitive for these case studies), would indicate that target customers have higher favorability of these brands. I don’t think pre-rolls and banners could do that alone.
And isn’t that what separates the AIGs from the Disneys?
Coke and Google are soon to publish ROI data on a campaign in Germany that includes online video. The study isolates individuals who were not exposed to television but did see YouTube promotion, and reports incremental consumption data by various digitalchannels. Paid search leads, of course, and YouTube ranks high (far above banners, which showed almost no impact… and outdoor advertising).
Jens Monsees, who heads consumer goods and healthcare at Google in Spain, teased the audience with info, but results are to be published jointly by Coke and Google. Monsees was speaking at Exlpharma.com’s “Digital Pharma Europe” in Barcelona today.
It’s about time we had a marketing mix study that includes online video, and I look forward to seeing the details. BTW- the average YouTube viewer is 31 years old.