Audiences continue to have an insatiable demand for online video content. In July, Americans had more than 6.9 billion viewing sessions for the first time, with 86% percent of the U.S. Internet population watching video. Audiences also viewed more than 5.3 billion video ads in July.
Despite this growth, online video advertising is expected to account for only 6.9% of all web advertising spending in 2011, and there is still a huge gap between the $70 billion currently spent on TV advertising and the $2.16 billion projected to be spent on online video ads this year.
This gap can be attributed to marketers' hesitation to run ads on online videos because of perceived lack of visibility into the content, and lack of measurement data. So how can media buyers be sure they are targeting the most relevant, appropriate online video content?
First and foremost, clarity is of utmost importance to media buyers. Brands have been damaged in the past by running advertisements on questionable content they didn't have visibility into. Media buyers need to know the context of the online videos to ensure the content is safe and relevant. This is crucial to the effectiveness of a campaign.
Media buyers rely on grain size, or depth of granularity into content, for targeting. To achieve the desired grain size, three basic methods are used for online video: channel, behavioral and contextual targeting. Channel targeting is the broadest level based on classifying content by category. Behavioral targeting uses information collected on an individual's web browsing behavior and buckets "behaviors" into targetable segments. Contextual targeting scans the video stream for specific content within the video -- for example, advertisements for digital cameras make a lot of sense for people watching product reviews of digital cameras.
Each campaign has different goals and requires different targeting tactics, so there isn't a standard for the level of granularity media buyers require to effectively run campaigns. For example, one brand may prefer expanding its reach as much as possible by running ads on every sports video available in a channel. Another company, however, may seek to limit its targeting by layering audience or "in-market" data -- seeking more specific targets. Campaigns are most successful when media buyers use channel, behavioral and contextual targeting, and combinations thereof, to determine the right grain size.
Finally, scale must be determined to ensure ads are reaching the highest number of appropriate viewers. Marketers need to take into account that the ability to scale will change from campaign to campaign based on the level of targeting. Finding balance is key. If a campaign is too narrowly targeted, the scale will be tiny and may not reach enough audiences. If a campaign employs mass targeting, the scale will be huge, but the ads could reach some completely irrelevant audiences, ultimately wasting money and time. Recognizing the impact varying targeting levels have on scale will allow media buyers to successfully execute their campaigns.
Using clarity, grain size and scale in tandem, media buyers can achieve the ultimate goal: helping their clients reach the right users at the right time and in the right place.