Commentary

Online Video: Segmenting The Current Media Darling

New media trends last about a day and a half in the digital marketing business. And now it is online video's time to bask in the limelight like a shiny new coin, vying for media buyers' attention and dollars. It has moved within a year from the hot media with great CPMs for publishers and high engagement for advertisers to a rapidly maturing channel that lives in the same neighborhood as mobile and search, or at least the adjacent zip code, with mobile and tablets subletting nearby.

Something happens along the way from "hottest new media darling" to mature, reliable digital marketing channel. That "something" has much to thank for audience targeting and customer segmentation. Think about it. No need to think that hard as targeting has been acknowledged as being on the cusp of revolutionizing online video publishing and advertising and will make online video exponentially more effective for marketers.

Let's get to a little history. Display ads. Back when display ads were called banners, they were bought in two ways. We had run of site, which placed banners pretty much everywhere on an entire Web site, or a section of that site. Yahoo used to sell run of site banners for every page view in the late '90s, as an example. It wasn't long before advertisers bailed on the banner and migrated to search, rich media and then back to display ads. The reason they came back to display, and the reason they are fueling Internet ad spending, is because audience targeting made banners more relevant.

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You get the point: digital marketing heads toward targeting and segmentation in a very short period of time. Along the way, the science of digital marketing gets more informed. Marketers are smarter, make fact-based decisions and allocate more dollars. And consumers are more satisfied with their experience because that experience is more relevant.

Online video is at that same tipping point that display was at two years ago. And undoubtedly, mobile advertising will be, too, once the heated debates about inventory availability, i.e. scalability have been settled. The argument worth pursuing right now is about numbers.

It's about audience and the understanding that in order to effectively reach the online video customer, there is no one customer. More likely, there are hundreds of different customers. To think that you can advertise to the online video viewer without understanding that they fall into segments just like display and mobile is to risk your brand's relevance, not to mention your marketing dollars. So, as we rush to pick up that shiny new coin, let's all make sure that we have our heads up -- for good fortune.

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