UK marketers are rapidly exploring the wonders of digital video advertising. But is a default approach to video ad serving hindering their chances of getting the most out of this powerful medium?

Late last year AOL published its annual State of the Video Industry reports for the US and European markets. The studies confirmed what most of us already know: digital video is currently the hottest ticket in marketing. Video advertising is growing rapidly. Marketers on both sides of the pond are reallocating traditional advertising budgets and lumping sizeable dollars against video. It's not surprising. The medium presents a powerful opportunity to engage customers in the brand experience and offers a reach and scale that can fuel cost-effective communications.

But the questions for UK marketers are simple: do you have the right tools to optimise the opportunity? And can you break away from adopting a common default approach that's stifling the creative power of video advertising and restricting its potential to bring measurability and personalisation to brand campaigns? The technologies to help you succeed are there for the taking.

The experiential benefits of video advertising are significant. Technology now makes it possible for consumers to become immersed in brand experiences through video – and it's becoming a strong stimulant to inspire new customers to make a purchase. Video's power of persuasion is one of the main reasons marketers are falling in love with the medium as it becomes the most viewed form of online content. Yet despite UK creative talent being among the best in the world, turning a good video ad into an extraordinary one can be a difficult task without the right technology. Crucially, if marketers maintain the current default approach to video, the high-value benefits of campaign analytics, personalisation and creative excellence will remain out of reach.

Compromise #1: The Screen Test

Marketers are familiar with the evolving technological landscape; it is challenging old models and stimulating new approaches. But with video, keeping pace with technological change is vital. The past decade has seen a major fragmentation in media; there's an ever-growing abundance of online channels, mobile technologies, interactive gaming platforms and connected TV devices. All these channels are built to carry video and marketers naturally want to leverage them to reach their customers. However, the default approach to video ad serving does nothing to help them.

Each channel has different specification requirements for video advertising. However, default ad serving treats every video as a uniform format and has no means of discerning the device that's accessing the content. Unfortunately, when specifications aren't met, the video experience suffers. Consequently, investment in the creative is squandered and ROI takes a dive.

The assumption that there's a uniform standard for video serving has a detrimental but undetectable impact on consumers' brand experiences. People that experience poor quality video don't raise an alarm – they just don't buy your product and they probably don't come back.

Nowadays, device-agnostic video ad serving platforms can solve the challenge of multiple devices and formats. They can intuitively 'verify' a device and tailor content accordingly, so all the benefits of a compelling video experience are fully realised. Overcoming the verification challenge is a major milestone for video ad serving and has led to a surge in uptake of single-point platforms in the US. In the past year, digital video advertising in America has grown by 42%. It's forecast to be a $13 billion market by 2019. The move from passive to responsive ad serving has been fundamental to this growth.

Compromise #2: Measuring ROI

The limitations of the passive approach also extend to metrics. Marketers need to measure campaign effectiveness, but default methodology makes it impossible for them to garner anything beyond basic tracking information – and even that can be misleading. Brand teams are able to see impressions, but they don't know if they're real impressions. In actual fact, they're most likely to be getting the wrong impression. They won't know if the ad was served, if it was below the fold or whether the style of player was appropriate for the content. It's impossible to draw any meaningful insight. Marketers need help.

Leading-edge technology can satisfy marketers' thirst for ROI data. A single-point platform can provide in-depth metrics around viewability, verification, geo-performance and user engagement. That gives brand teams the real impression, rather than a superficial one.

Compromise #3: Extraordinary creative

Finally we return to the raison d'être for video advertising – the promise of delivering engaging brand experiences. And guess what? The default ad service method falls short there too. Passive publisher-led ad serving doesn't allow marketers to maximise advanced creative such as interactive video. For modern consumers, interactive video content is beyond cool. It allows consumers to move beyond the boundaries of a standard video advert and actually 'live' the brand; to drive the Jag, to hear the engine and feel the throttle. It gives consumers the full brand experience – and it's truly invigorating.

Where it's appropriate, any failure to exploit interactive video is a missed opportunity; consumers want an immersive brand experience and new technologies make this possible. However, the technical limitations of the default approach mean that marketers are denied the chance. Conversely, the best platforms not only allow marketers to enhance video content with extraordinary interactive creative, they also enable programmatic creative where video content can be personalised to the user. This means the right creative – and indeed the very best creative – can be delivered to the right individual to the right device, wherever they are.

So as UK marketers continue their exciting journey into digital video, perhaps it's time to extend your ambition. The considerations are simple. Do you have the right tools to deliver compelling video advertising campaigns? Can you drive those campaigns everywhere and on every device that your audiences use? And do you truly know the ROI on the campaigns you currently deliver? If you don't, but you're serious about video advertising, the best advice is to find a technology partner with expertise in video advertising – and develop an approach that goes way beyond the default. The solutions are out there and they can help you make the best impression.


By Zack Zigdon, International Managing Director and Co-Founder, Innovid

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