We've long heard about the sizable gap -- currently estimated at $60 billion -- between what marketers spend on brand advertising on the Web, and the amount of time and attention that has shifted to the Internet. And while the growth of both social media and online video advertising has quickly put a dent in this number, we've yet to see the watershed moment.
Social video may prove to be the missing link. Social video advertising empowers brand marketers to deliver an unprecedented range of persuasive, entertaining video content (such as short films, webisodes and educational videos) in non-interruptive formats across the wWb. And because consumers not only choose to watch these brand videos at scale, but are also often motivated to share it with their friends, brands and agencies are now getting behind this approach in a big way.
The growing budgets coming into social video will be a significant contributor to reducing the gap between the amount of time consumers spend online and the overall digital advertising spend. Here are five early indicators that this is already happening:
1. Big brands are making major investments in video content. You need look no further than Nike and Coca-Cola, two of the largest and most forward-thinking brands in the world, to see that digital content marketing is a huge growth area.
Few brands have committed to content marketing more than Nike, which has replaced a large portion of its television advertising spending over the past decade with the sponsorship of a huge range of experiential marketing projects and the creation of over 10,000 pieces of original content. Nike will be the first to tell you that they don't just sell shoes; Nike is a digital media company that creates culture through content.
Coca-Cola is also making bold moves in the direction of brand content. Coke recently spoke at the Cannes Festival about its "Liquid and Linked" content creation strategy, which places a new emphasis on dynamic storytelling to connect people with each other through shared content.
2. Top agencies are building dedicated practices around digital video. Brand-focused advertisers have always aspired to create and distribute shareable content, not just ads that interrupt. To this end, we're seeing agencies launch practices focused squarely on digital video.
For example, Ogilvy & Mather just launched an Advanced Video Practice in July of this year. Led by industry luminary Robert Davis, Ogilvy's Advanced Video Practice works with brands to take video engagement beyond the "viral" view, targeting measureable engagements that place viewers directly into the sales funnel. Over the past two years the team has been developing strategic interactive video experiences for IBM, Nestle, DuPont and other global clients.
3. Agencies are hiring directors of "earned media." At both media and creative agencies around the world, Earned Media departments are now being created to ensure that brand content doesn't get lost in the din, but thrives as a positive and integral part of the web content ecosystem.
Earned Media Director and Executive Producer Craig Batzofin at agency Evolution Bureau says, "My job is not about crossing our fingers and hoping for free earned media. Our job, as a department, and really collectively as an agency, is about strategically planning and executing integrated brand content programs that seamlessly tie together shareable content, thoughtful earned media and PR, and paid media that gets our content seen and socialized."
4. We're moving beyond the lonely click. These days, a 1% click-through rate on a traditional display ad buy would send a media planner cheering through the office. But not only does a 1% CTR mean that 99% of people did nothing, it's also limited to just a single, isolated visit to a site.
We are now at the point where meaningful media metrics have been introduced for brand content that can reflect the endorsement potential of social media. Both sharethrough rate (the rate at which a video is shared, divided by the number of times it is viewed) and "social engagement" metrics such as Likes, tweets and shares, are becoming standardized metrics to gauge the performance of video campaigns. As social engagement rates become standardized across the industry, media planners will be able to more accurately compare performance across different vendors -- and in turn, confidently increase social video budgets to the best media performers.
5. The market is validating the approach. We are now starting to see investment in the kind of research and documentation necessary for large corporate agencies to feel comfortable moving significant budgets online. From Forrester Research helping to define and standardize paid vs. owned vs. earned media, to the launch of Nielsen's BuzzMetrics product, to comScore's recent study on "The Power of Like," big research companies are getting into the conversation by defining the value of online conversation about brands.
On a campaign level, media buyers demand third-party research to validate their spending against social video content. Many survey-based research companies are adopting models to help measure social campaigns' ROI for brands, with positive results. For example, for social branded content specifically, Vizu's brand studies measuring awareness, favorability and/or purchase intent have yielded lifts of 20X higher than industry averages.
While it's still early days for social video advertising, one look at the exciting progress happening with brand content strategies, video and earned media departments and third-party research and measurement tools, points to a big future for this new medium.