Many of my agency colleagues, already knee-deep in planning for 2012, have asked for advice on how to think about online video. What's interesting is that these inquiries are coming from both the digital and broadcast realm, highlighting the sea change that is upon us: the online and offline worlds are truly converging. Video has become the nexus point for this merger, because in-stream video advertising is the primary focus of an audience's attention, much like TV, except with the targeting and interactive capabilities of rich-media display. The next logical step is to ask: How does one plan a video campaign taking into account TV investment and reach?
Think about aggregate GRPs. GRPs (gross rating points) are a divisive subject in the online video world, but despite what the pundits say, the currency of the TV world is not going anywhere anytime soon. This is why it's important to think about GRPs when planning a campaign, with certain caveats.
Consider your buy at total target audience and think about combined reach instead of looking at TV and Digital separately. Understand if you are getting the optimal reach for your target audience by working with video partners and platforms that give you the ability to consider both your video audience and TV audience with an unduplicated reach and frequency. When planning, always be wary of combining multiple datasets from multiple platforms. Pulling differently defined data points from more than one platform can give you a misread on your true reach and frequency.
Understand what you're purchasing. While the lower CPMs of in-banner and in-text video ads can be alluring, both the content and the audience behaviors are drastically different. This is why many publishers aggregate their videos to a separate video page within their portal. Simply put, in-stream is the primary focus of the consumer. Due to banner blindness, in-banner inventory can drastically lose value depending on where it is placed. While it can be an inexpensive and useful means of increasing reach, you tend to get what you pay for.
Capitalize on creative formats that promote engagement. One of the major differences between in-stream video and traditional TV is the abundance of creative formats and interactive capabilities that drive engagement. Use these interactive techniques to enhance that 15- to 30-second spot. Data collected from these interactive capabilities can help you learn what audiences engage with -- and, more importantly, where you might find incremental "earned media." Using this data, apply display thinking to your in-stream campaigns.
Target, measure, & optimize. Use the tools of the Web to your advantage. Target, measure and optimize your buys according to your campaign objectives utilizing real-time data. Focus your targeting on in-stream video. Use retargeting as a complementary overlay to the stream, but always remember that content and context drive consumer engagement. Behaviors can differ drastically from in-page to in-stream.
During your campaign, measure and optimize repeatedly. Make use of the various metrics and measuring tools including more advanced tools, such as in-stream surveys. Additionally, you should learn which audiences are engaging with your creative and those who are not, but be wary of placing too much significance on display metrics like CTR. Video is still primarily a branding vehicle, so invest more heavily where you see brand lift.
Respect the new medium. The most important aspect to remember when planning an in-stream campaign is that online video is neither simply an extension of TV nor Display. It is its own unique medium that deserves to be respected, studied and understood. Take note of the subtle and overt differences when you plan and use all of its capabilities to make your campaign truly succeed.