Two of the biggest current trends in advertising are 1) the growth of digital video, and 2) increased personalization. So it stands to reason that combining these two in the form of personalized video could be an obvious direction of potential growth for the industry.
So far, though, personalized video advertising has been more of a novelty than a legitimate category. In part, this is because of the current limits of technology and because the idea hasn’t caught on widely with marketers in general.
Yet, looking ahead a few years, it’s likely that personalized video will become a potent form of advertising that will combine the emotive power of video with the granular targeting that is increasingly popular with marketers.
Where the industry stands right now
While no one has yet launched a breakthrough campaign that will jump-start the industry, giants Coca-Cola and Amazon have already experimented with personalized video. In 2014, Coke launched a program on the UKs FOD platform, that which used each viewer’s sign-on information to create 4 million unique video ads that featured Coke bottles sporting each consumer’s first names. (A Cadbury campaign in Israel employed a similar premise, showing a handwritten note whose message changed based on who was viewing. it.)
Amazon, meanwhile, has been experimenting with personalized ads that are tailored on the fly to individual users. The company was short on details of how it would work, but it seems to be based on the same idea behind retargeted banner ads — if you searched for a miter saw on Amazon, for instance, then you might see a video about miter saws rather than a standard banner.
Nike, too, has worked with a company in France to make personalized videos for every runner in a recent Paris race. The videos featured the runners’ finish times and course, with the Nike swoosh.
We are excited about these interesting early attempts at personalization and there’s no doubt that they have surprised and delighted viewers. It is still very much early days, however. Looking ahead a few years, it’s likely that personalization will get much more sophisticated and effective.
For example, right now a brand can use a consumer’s IP address to personalize the content she’ll see on a corporate website. In 2020, a consumer might analyze that same information and generate a personalized video instead. If the visitor has an address that indicates that she works at Cisco Systems, then the video might include information that other people at Cisco have viewed. A visitor to the website might also see a testimonial from a competitor. Imagine visiting a CRM vendor, for example, and seeing your rival talking about how great the system has been for his business.
Consumer-facing businesses will also be able to employ this tactic as well. As Amazon’s experiments show, one possibility is to tailor video messages to a consumer’s recent searches.
All of this requires that marketers start looking at video in a new way. Being able to personalize messages can mean shooting a lot of video to cover many scenarios and/or a lot of different scenarios and repurposing video that’s already on topic.
The real holdup right now is on the technical side. Real-time processing, the cloud-based infrastructure and streaming protocols will all need to evolve over the next few years to make this possible.
Given technology’s march, it’s a fair assumption that this will happen. In the meantime, as consumers get more used to watching video on their mobile devices and begin to expect that more of their marketing messages are to be tailored for them, marketers would be wise to starting looking ahead to how personalized video advertising could play a role in their overall media plans.