OLV: Anything But Your TV Spot

Let’s talk OLV. Online video. The star attraction of the internet. The number one reason people go online. A critical tool that healthcare marketers frequently fail to leverage. 

By 2017, online video will account for a massive 74% of all online traffic, according to KPCB. For marketing purposes, a variety of video formats vie for media dollars. But most of the action is on Facebook and, of course, the big kahuna YouTube. 

Both are social media platforms where healthcare brands have the opportunity to spark deeper connections with users, who are already in a "social" mindset. With the right content, marketers can connect emotionally with these people to inspire action and forge lasting relationships. 

However, the user experience and viewer expectation require re-engineering, quite literally, of the video experience. Something many healthcare brands, accustomed to relying on traditional television spots, fail to do.



A visual narrative. Sound optional.

Audio on videos served through paid media on social platforms is user initiated. So if you’re planning to use your :30 television spot as a YouTube takeover—don’t. 

After adding subtitles, modifying the aspect ratio for the extended frame format and editing it down to accommodate the CTA frame the unit will resolve to, it will be… well, a mess. And, most likely it will perform poorly.

Branding in OLV. Think like display media. 

Brands typically have three to five seconds to tell viewers who is sponsoring the video experience and capture their interest. OLV is not a place to play coy. Unless you are making your video non-skippable, branding must be upfront, even if it is only in the form of a logo bug. Otherwise, your performance metrics will suffer. 

Customize, customize, customize.

As engagement is the key success metric, video hosting sites typically ask for customized units designed to perform on their platform.

Case in point: We recently worked with a client who—prior to launching an expensive masthead—wanted to test three different video executions in pre-roll to gauge the strongest creative. 

One was the :30 spot already airing on televisions in the U.S. The second, a manifesto video that positioned the product as the big reveal at the end. The third, a mobile-friendly unit created expressly for YouTube. Its telegraphic type and illustrations told the brand story at a glance. If the sound was activated, great, but if not, no damage done. 

So, which one tested best?

Metrics tell the story. With high-definition clarity.

No surprise. The final, digital unit outperformed the other executions. By far. When the YouTube takeover ran, it drove tens of thousands of hours of brand engagement and branded search in the days that followed. And ultimately, it drove consumption. Sales went up within the week.

Don’t get me wrong. Television spots work quite well when broadcast. But online videos must be created for the digital world. 

When they are, the results can be extraordinary. One example is “The World’s Biggest Asshole,” a PSA video by the not-for-profit Donate Life. In addition to defying the rules of its category, it was created for digital and follows most of the rules discussed above. Launched with zero media support, it went viral and inspired millennial men across the country to take health-related action and register as organ donors. Watching the spot you will see, it is not television. It is OLV.  

The author served on the 2017 North American Health Effie Awards jury.

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