Video has been a consumer’s constant companion during the Covid-19 pandemic, whether that’s tumbling down TikTok black holes, to binging on the latest Netflix show. Digital video viewing has already smashed previous growth estimates, with time spent 15% higher than 2019, running at a considerable two hours and 20 minutes per day for adults across the UK.
Brand reactions to this sudden uptick have ranged from some choosing to withdraw advertising campaigns during the pandemic, while others simply paused ad efforts to recalibrate. Marketers are now being encouraged to make ‘bolder decisions’ to harness fast-expanding video opportunities, and tap into a huge and highly receptive audience to build greater consumer awareness.
However, brands will also experience sizeable challenges and be under increased pressure to make optimal use of video.
Understanding the opportunities
“It pays to keep your brand in the consumer’s eye”. Professor of Marketing at the London Business School, Anja Lambrecht’s comment has never resonated more than in the age of Covid-19, with considerably less physical interaction able to happen and an increased reliance on screens. For brands, this means it’s time to dial up the digital video activity.
But as brands extend their presence across the videoscape, ensuring those precious budgets are used as efficiently as possible will depend on an accurate understanding of where the best opportunities lie. Brands will need a comprehensive view of advertising impact for each screen and channel to guide smart media buying decisions that fuel strong returns. This includes whether ad placements will have the chance to reach consumer eyeballs and positively influence brand perception.
Managing risk takes multi-faceted measurement
Video’s blend of sight, sound and motion is captivating for viewers, and a winning combination for brands looking to engage them. But it has its own risks.
For example, what happens if the video is out of sight on the page, or if the consumer is looking away? The inherently visual nature of video means being out of view significantly reduces ad effectiveness. Video’s popularity is leading to an increase in available inventory. However, while this boosts scope for campaigns, it also opens up the opportunity for ad fraud and poorly placed ads.
Leveraging video successfully therefore requires multipurpose measurement. Brands targeting connected TV (CTV), for instance, would be wise to adopt evaluation tools that can validate video ads in several key areas — checking ads are viewable, played to completion, brand safe, and free from invalid traffic — and run across varied mediums; from desktop to mobile in-app. By implementing technology that can cover multiple bases at once, brands can ensure their CTV and wider video campaigns are consistently protected.
Efficiency can also be further enhanced for CTV, and beyond, with smarter integrated tech. So far, trying to extend video horizons has meant juggling a range of vendors; each bringing different requirements and tags that are complicated to break out, and raise the risk of costly human error. Now, holistic solutions are beginning to emerge that allow brands to close the gaps by unifying disparate tags and automatically adjusting assessment for different environments. It’s crucial that more infrastructure improves so that attempts for these streamlined systems become a consistent reality and make it easier for brands to launch and measure video campaigns anywhere, from video on-demand (VOD) platforms to YouTube.
Looking beyond basic brand safety
Maximising ad impact isn’t simply about avoiding risks. Just as important as keeping away from unsafe inventory is directing budget towards suitable and relevant digital video opportunities. When it comes to keeping brands secure, the industry is fast evolving past blunt keywords that cut off huge sections of premium digital video and is, instead, starting to take a more nuanced approach to determining what exactly is suitable for specific brands.
Recent weeks provide the perfect illustration to how blocking wide-ranging terms, such as ‘coronavirus’, can limit digital advertising effectiveness and restrict publisher revenue. There is also increasing evidence to show that context matters to consumers: with 48% preferring contextually targeted ads and 81% actively seeking coronavirus content, according to recent Integral Ad Science (IAS) research. Using tailored controls to steer clear of unwanted associations and identify video inventory that aligns with their unique needs, brands can define what is an acceptable risk and what isn’t.
Already taking a powerful hold on consumer attention before Covid-19, video has reached new heights of consumption and influence. But to unlock its potential, brands will need to be mindful of multiple pitfalls. Multi-pronged measurement that helps synchronise and verify video advertising efforts will be paramount, as will a balance between robust brand safety and the ability to explore a range of contextually suitable video content.