The introduction of paid marketing opportunities on micro-video opens up new opportunities for brands. This article will explain how they can make it work.

Brands spent much of 2014 working out how to find a place on social micro-video platforms like Vine and Instagram.

Their efforts focused on earned media with consumers rewarding the creativity of brands such as Burberry, Waitrose and Rimmel with likes and shares. Like other social media platforms, however, micro-video operators are looking to offer paid opportunities and that could transform this platform.

Micro-videos currently appeal to fans devoted enough to “follow” a brand. The introduction of paid options will allow brands and their media planners to target the wider audience of consumers with whom the brand may resonate.

This opens up the potential for a much larger reach among the current user base of 300 million on Instagram and more than 40 million on Vine.

While current reach of these channels is lower than TV, well-executed creative developed specifically for micro-video has extremely high viral potential.

Instagram has begun to test the effectiveness of paid ads on its platform since September 2014. However, Millward Brown research suggests many brands are struggling to make micro-videos work for them.

This early experience demonstrates the importance of adhering to some basic rules for paid micro video. Brand messages must be immediately captivating and entertaining, as consumers on these sites have high expectations of creativity.

Vine’s paid-for options have yet to go to market but our recent study, “From Six Seconds to Six Minutes,” found that Vine videos too need to be simple and authentic, fitting in with other content on the platform while being eye-catching and reinforcing implicit associations with the brand.

Brands also need to focus on a single message. Multiple messages can undermine the effectiveness of 30 second ads, never mind six second ones.

One of the Vines Millward Brown tested was for the Nissan GT-R, which asked: who needs 6 seconds when the GT-R goes from 0-60 in 2.7 seconds. It may not have been the most liked micro video but it did make a single-minded impression.

Applying this wisdom to paid opportunities in micro-video means taking on board three key factors:

1. Both Vine and Instagram are creative platforms and have distinct personalities and aesthetics. Brands will need to flex their campaign idea so that it adapts to these platforms in a way that feels in tune with both the brand’s personality and the style of the platform on which it is posting or advertising

2. Both platforms have distinct audiences –so it’s important to test and learn to understand the relevance of each platform in driving both performance of the campaign and whether outcomes are purely behavioural or whether, more importantly, it will have a meaningful impact on brand

3. Very short videos such as Vines are not likely to work for a brand in isolation. There is an element of ‘multiscreen serendipity’ for brands, which they cannot always plan for when delivering campaign creative across new platforms due to the fragmented media and digital landscape, the choice of touchpoints at consumer’s fingertips and the complex matrix in which consumers can journey between each. Brands need to evaluate and optimise campaign creative before launch to ensure investment will deliver pay back for the brand.

Finally, just because the creative is short, doesn’t mean it is easy. Brands embracing paid micro-video should be aware that creating these shorter ads might actually require more effort to be effective.

Poor creative could have a negative impact, if consumers become annoyed by clutter invading their personal territory. To optimise engagement, creative agencies will need to develop stories that work well across multiple micro-videos, and media agencies will need to optimise the new paid targeting options and the role of micro-video within a broader media campaign.

To succeed in micro-video as a paid channel, it will be more important than ever for marketers and their creative agencies to ensure a brand’s communication is engaging and make every second count for consumers.

Even before the introduction of paid opportunities, the power of microvideo was starting to make itself felt. Earlier this year, HP aired a 30-second commercial in the US that was made up completely of “Vinelebrities” from HP-sponsored Vines.

Many more brands are tagging television ads with their Twitter or Instagram handle. In 2015 we will see more brands blurring these lines, and perhaps airing simple, 5-10 second TV creatives that mimic a Vine or Instagram style.

The case for exploring paid options in the microvideo world will only get stronger.


By Amanda Phillips, Head of Marketing at Millward Brown. 

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