Commentary

The Three Cs Of Buying Online Video Ads

Who will buy online video ads? Online buyers? Broadcast buyers? Will media shops finally succumb to the thundering footsteps of "integration," and create functional cross-platform divisions?

It's not quite the four Cs of diamond-buying, but whether you approach online video from the interactive side or the traditional side, here are a few characteristics to help maximize the effectiveness of in-stream video campaigns.

Consider the Channel

The brand and demographics of the Web site are the first criteria that advertisers have traditionally used to target standard online advertising campaigns. By definition, there is a level of segmentation that comes from advertising on specialty sites or channels within larger sites. For financial advertisers, for example, the Wall Street Journal site delivers consumers likely to be interested in financial services. There is also a level of trust and credibility that a user bestows on a site like WSJ that likely rubs off on its advertisers.

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The site or channel is critical because of the content on the page that sits outside of the video player. Advertisers need to be completely satisfied that the rest of that content (or content that is one click away) is aligned with their brand image, does not have any competitive conflicts, and of course does not contain any adult or illegal material.

Consider the Content

Content is the next criterion for advertisers to target in-stream video ads. Users have consciously chosen to watch a specific video, so the content of that video is extremely relevant to the user. (For example, a user watching an extreme sports video is likely to have certain demographic characteristics: young, male, etc.) But do users "raising their hand" to watch a specifically targeted content piece provide a greater value than users on a blue-chip video portal who watch a less relevant piece of content?

In many cases, the exact same video content can be on multiple sites. Regardless of what path they took to get to it, is the targeting value of that content the same? Does an ad in "Friends" on NBC carry the same demo target value as an ad in "Friends" on TBS? What about "Friends" on YouTube? The theory behind contextual advertising in current online advertising models like Google AdSense is that the context of what is on a page matters more than the brand name of the Web site it is on.

Consider the Consumer

User targeting is clearly the area where online buyers have enormous advantages over broadcast buyers. The most basic types of targeting include: geo-targeting, frequency capping, dayparting. But for a truly effective video campaign, it's worth employing behavioral targeting as well. By targeting users based on their recent history regardless of the channel or content, we can target "in-market buyers" who, for example, visited car sites within the last two days. Wouldn't that be the most relevant consumer for a Toyota ad? This type of targeting also opens the door for sequential ads or personalized offers that can follow the user from site to site.

Consider the Results

Video is the most powerful branding format available to advertisers. But until now, it was difficult for broadcast advertisers to target effectively, measure results, and connect with the user. If the goal is to produce campaigns with the highest ad completion rates, the highest click-through rates, the highest user interaction rates, and (ultimately) the most sales, then all three of the above criteria must be orchestrated in conjunction. This effective combination gives marketers the best chance of meeting their goals and creating effective video campaigns.  

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