Digital Video Advertising's Perception Gap

Seriously? New research from media metrics consultancy Sequent Partners finds that major brand marketers think digital video has a great future driving offline sales but that right now, many of them still pigeonhole it mainly as a brand awareness tool.

That puts it in the less desirable funnel neighborhood.

The report, titled “Digital Video at the Inflection Point” with a mandatory cumbersome subtitle, suggests marketers attitudes don’t always match their experiences. For example, 87% report positive ROI results from digital advertising, and 65% say digital has an increasing role in sales,  but just 42% think it is superior to other media right now.

“Marketers today are more likely to view digital video as a branding tool with more than half seeing it as a superior tool for building brand awareness and favorability, telling their brand’s story and connecting with consumers emotionally,” the report says. “It seems that perceptions have not yet caught up with the hard facts and marketers’ actual experience.”

When that perception catch-up game is complete in a year or two, digital video advertising will have arrived at the tipping point, “when digital video becomes widely used for sales objectives,” the report says. “There are two essential characteristics of the medium that must be embraced by a larger number of people to carry digital video” to that next level--better targeting and better personalization of digital ads.”

I think it’s just not a coincidence this research was underwritten by Eyeview, an ad tech company that prides itself on its hyper-local ad personalization abilities.

Still, because this report synthesizes the attitudes of 200 senior major brand marketers, it is interesting to see how many of them recognize a valuable return on their digital ads but only some of them see that value already extends far beyond branding.

"When it comes to digital video advertising, marketers have traditionally relied on the medium to deliver branding objectives with less of a focus on sales goals, said Jim Spaeth, the co-author of the study and former president of the Advertising Research Foundation, in press material.

A line from report says this study shows “that some marketers don’t fully appreciate the success drivers for digital video.”

A little later, the study acknowledges, “The majority of marketers see digital video as a way to connect emotionally with consumers and tell the brand’s story in an engaging way. However, a large portion of marketers can see that limiting the role of digital video to branding efforts is a temporary stage in the medium’s evolution. They recognize the potential it will have in other roles as well, particularly in driving sales.” (Right now, that's the 42% of marketers that already think digital is better at driving sales than other media, indicating the nearness of that tipping point.)

There are problems with digital this report acknowledges. For one, getting the right content is a roadblock. “The challenge with online video right now is that the costs are still more expensive than TV. Online is not as efficient—it is effective but more expensive, but the CPMs creep up, so ROI is not that attractive,” one consumer packaged goods marketer states.  

The Sequent study says better evaluation ROI and cost-per-acquisition indicators are one to two years down the road, which is a step up from just measuring site traffic. That should help change the perceptions. Right now, “Although there isn’t much opposition to using digital video to drive sales, there seems to be some complacency. The general marketplace perception of digital video’s financial performance is average, not outstanding.”  

It seems Sequent (and Eyeview) would like to respond to that.

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