Three Lessons Digital Video Advertisers Should Learn from Direct Marketing

As a consumer, I often see pre-roll ads on my phone, Roku, Wii, tablet and PC. And, as a digital professional, I also see ways those advertisers can put the basics of direct marketing to work with digital video to get outstanding results.

Using pre-roll video advertising across devices provides an unprecedented opportunity for marketers. By combining the creative control and engagement of TV with the audience targeting and measurability of digital marketing, marketers can see huge gains in advertising effectiveness and efficiency.

1. Put your brand/product front, center and always visible. Make sure your brand or product is visible from your ad’s beginning to end. Maximize reach by starting the ad with the brand or product name. If you’re adapting your TV ad to pre-roll video, place your logo over one corner of the ad. If necessary, make it partially transparent. Just make sure it’s there. This will dramatically increase consumer awareness for your brand or product and will drive more measurable outcomes for your video campaign.



With skip rates of pre-roll ads rising in some segments and with consumers multitasking and jumping back and forth between email, videos, Facebook, etc. the visibility of brands and products in videos has never been more critical.

For example, I witnessed plenty of missed opportunities for a national telco brand in late 2012. This brand created an immersive winter wonderland ad spot with holiday music and snow-filled scenes. My son and I saw it as we waited to watch a “Gangnam Style” video spoof on my tablet. As we watched the ad, it was impossible to tell whom it was for until the very end. The video was clearly missing its opportunity to reach me. After 27 long seconds, I finally learned which brand was being advertised. I just watched that long because I was doing a professional observation. Most consumers, including my antsy son, would have skipped over the ad after five or 10 seconds.

2. Reach the right audience, then measure and test meaningful metrics. Go beyond traditional age, gender and income profiling with audience and programmatic buying. If your goal is to sell more iPhone skins, then serve ads to iOS users and show them iPhone content. You can then go beyond and profile current purchasers to find more consumers with similar profiles.

Design a test to measure the impact of your pre-roll campaign. Run the video in only 50% of the designated market areas (DMAs) in the U.S. and use your Web analytics package to measure lift in site traffic and purchases from these regions. If your product requires offline purchases, track purchases across these DMAs. Or, for brand objectives, use a survey to measure lift in message recall, purchase intent, or other brand metrics.

3. Integrate the video into your overall digital programs.  Use video assets to create a larger impact with your advertising, but partner this with display and Facebook to maintain impact with lower-cost units. The best results I’ve seen across campaigns are when video creates consideration and demand for products, then display, Facebook, or other channels maintain this over time. For more direct response (DR)-focused campaigns, plan to use the video further up the funnel.

To drive consideration and awareness, integrate these other channels to drive traffic to your site. You can also drive traffic with an integrated re-marketing plan. A typical plan might have a consumer exposed to three to five video ads each week and three to five display impressions each day. This strategy ensures your brand/product is front and center, while not overwhelming the consumer with your message, which can drive returns on your advertising investment.

By giving your brand/product full visibility in the creative, reaching the right audience with the right measurement and integrating pre-roll video into your overall digital-marketing plans, you can maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of your online and offline marketing objectives with digital video advertising.

1 comment about "Three Lessons Digital Video Advertisers Should Learn from Direct Marketing".
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  1. Ken Berger from East Agile, June 12, 2013 at 1 p.m.

    Informative post, Doug.

    Pre-rolls sometimes remind me of the 90's top-center banner ads, many people (though not all) learned to reflexively skip it. Back then by moving your eyes past it, and today by waiting for the skip countdown to end.

    I wonder what tactics great advertising designers can employ to help diminish this. Your idea of "grab them quickly" is an idea.

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