Creating Video Ads that Don’t Piss People Off: How to Accomplish the Impossible

Conor Grant, Marketing Manager at Fuel X answers the question, what is so difficult about performance video advertising?

Have you ever seen a video ad? If your answer was a loud groan, followed by ‘yes, I’ve seen 13 annoying video ads this morning’ — you’re not alone.

Modern media consumers are inundated with video advertisements across a wide variety of formats and devices. The sheer volume of video advertisements is higher than ever before — by some estimates, adults consume as much as 10 hours and 39 minutes of digital content a day — but video advertising itself is nothing new.

For decades, advertisers have turned to the medium of video to engage consumers more efficiently than they could using text or static images alone. Given the tremendous amount of money invested in video advertising — think, for example, about the amount spent on primetime spots during the Super Bowl — one might assume that most advertisers use video advertising as a highly cost-efficient performance advertising tool.

Right? Well… not exactly.

If you’re one of the people who groaned because you’re used to so many annoying video advertisements, you may already understand this phenomenon. Despite their prevalence, consumer satisfaction with video ads is remarkably low. This is problematic because it means that not only do video ads annoy consumers — but video ads are also inefficient for many advertisers. Some reports estimate that ad-fatigued consumers who deploy ad-blockers result in a $22 billion industry loss annually.

So why haven’t advertisers found a more efficient way to run video advertising campaigns?

The answer is twofold. The first problem is strategic. Many businesses are not ‘metrics-first.’ Until recently, limits to data collection prevented advertisers from collecting data and rapidly acting upon it. The second problem is structural. Many businesses operate creative teams and data-reporting teams independently. It is important to commit significant financial and human resources to both video production and also to marketing analytics, but it is inefficient to operate either of these teams without information from the other side of the aisle.

While it isn’t often discussed as a component of video advertising strategy, the link between engagement metrics and creative optimization is one of the most crucial determinants of video ad success. The good news for advertisers is that the technology required to run efficient video advertising campaigns does exist. With an understanding of the obstacles that trip up most marketers, savvy advertisers can make video ads that don’t piss people off — and everybody wins.

 

Building a Metrics-First Advertising Strategy

The first problem is that most video advertising campaigns are focused on branding instead of performance metrics.

There are a number of historical reasons why this is the case. When video advertisements arrived to stay in mass-market media in 1941 (starting with a $4 ad spot in a local television network in New York during a baseball game), they became the darling of the advertising community for their ability to drive ‘brand awareness.’ Advertisers assumed that a lot of viewers were seeing their ads because sales figures improved, but they never had to show the precise impact of these videos — because there was no way to collect the data to do so.

Without any way to see the consumer journey, advertisers resorted to the next-best option — educated guesswork. Relying on a mixture of consumer behavioral psychology and ex-post facto data analysis, advertisers invested significant resources in predicting what content would resonate with consumers and then assessing how well it performed.

Since this kind of work was difficult and imprecise, most advertisers sought the help of third parties to assist in content development and campaign analysis. Many of these third-party partners undoubtedly provided valuable insights and added value, but many others did not. By nature, the rubric for evaluation was imprecise.

From this landscape (epitomized in recent popular culture in Mad Men) emerged a branding culture characterized by little concrete data and much conjecture. Since there was so much money invested in this model, tremendous inertia prevented advertisers (and their third-partners) from adopting new methods of tracking video ad campaigns.

Even today, many advertisers structure their video campaigns in accordance with this outdated branding framework. With a little research about marketing metrics and inventory sources, however, marketers can move beyond this myopic branding framework and understand the precise details of their advertising performance.

 

Breaking Down the Wall Between Production and Analytics

Well before modern analytics tools were available to provide video engagement data, advertisers were already investing time and money in attempting predict consumer preferences. The problem, however, was that advertisers did not have effective ways to gauge the success of video content without costly, time-consuming and imprecise surveys or focus groups. Due to this limited opportunity to quickly gauge the content success, advertisers typically swapped out videos irregularly and relied on secondary data (if any quantitative data at all) to evaluate their success.

What separates modern advertising from these outdated models is data recency. Today, advertisers running video advertising campaigns can collect massive amounts of highly specific data immediately and use it to continuously optimize content. Without the lag-time and imprecision of antiquated content evaluation techniques, advertisers can theoretically prevent stale content from reaching consumers.

By immediately evaluating the success of video content and updating it, advertisers can deliver engaging content with a far higher degree of accuracy — avoid the detriment of ad fatigue that accompanies content that pisses viewers off. This feedback loop is an integral piece of modern marketing strategy. To harness the power of data recency, advertisers must ensure that creative content production teams and campaign engagement analytical teams are in constant coordination. Only when creative production teams are able to quickly iterate on audience engagement data will they be able to minimize consumer ad-fatigue.

 

Conclusion: There IS a way to make video ads that don’t piss people off!

Advertisers can indeed create ads that don’t piss people off — by collecting relevant engagement metrics and using them to continuously update video content to reflect audience preferences. Before launching video campaigns, advertisers can ensure that they will receive data about video viewability, audience engagement and conversion metrics. Once campaigns have been configured accordingly, advertisers need only coordinate content production teams and data analysis teams to regularly refresh creative content to reflect performance to avoid the pitfall of delivering lackluster content to an oversaturated audience.

 

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