The Right Way To Use Video Advertising

It's official; the video space is more complicated now than it has ever been. The quality of the content ranges from one extreme to the other -- everything from professionally produced, long-form, HD video to a video clip of a friend who dared you to eat something outrageously disgusting from a mobile device (well, it was funny, and I wanted to capture the moment).


We have pre-rolls, overlays, in-banner video ads, and companion ads. Pre-rolls come in all shapes and sizes from seven seconds to 120. The same goes for overlay ads - bottom thirds, bugs at the bottom corner of the screen, etc. There are really no limitations to in-banner video ads (see IAB standard ad sizes) and to make everything a little bit more complex, there are hundreds of choices for both consumers and marketers seeking out video content.

All this is great for creating scale, but it makes planning a bit more difficult. Overwhelming, right? There is good news however, and that is there is no right way to do this. While having industry-wide best practices is nearly impossible for several reasons, what IS possible is developing a strategic approach that is right for your brand/client.

Quality of content. There has not been any significant research done to identify the relative value of consumers watching a piece of user-generated content (UGC) versus those watching professionally produced content. There may be demographic differences between the two, but in terms of psychographics and attitudinal behaviors, they are of equal value unless proven otherwise. For this reason, alignment with a particular type of content is solely based on the clients' brand mandatories. We are aware that there are some brands for whom an association with UGC does not make sense, whereas other brands embrace it.

Type of video advertising. There are creative production realities that every brand/agency must deal with. Sometimes there are no video assets to leverage, so an overlay would work best. And sometimes a repurposed TV spot in a pre-roll platform is the only option. These challenges are not new to any advertiser. The key is to ensure that it is possible to measure your most relevant metrics. For those advertisers new to the video space, it is critical to compare results (performance-based or awareness- based) to standard online advertising and discover if it is cost-effective to pay the premium for video.

Length of video ad. It is becoming increasingly evident that there will never be a right answer for those who want to know what the optimal length of video should be. Common sense applies, of course: don't put a :30 spot in front of a :45 video clip, but other than that, the answer should be based on what is driving the best results for your clients' brand. Put yourself in the consumers' shoes. Is the spot annoying to you? While it's always best to have conclusive research, in the absence of it, your own best judgment is a good barometer.

The common thread throughout the video space is the imminent need for measurement that is relevant to your brand so that you can answer the question, "Why are you doing this?" Whether you're tracking online sales, clicks to a microsite or general changes in awareness metrics, any brand can discover and create an approach that is right for them, even if our sole recourse is our own best judgment.

There doesn't seem to be an end to the complexity of the video space anytime soon, so it's vital to not be overwhelmed. We (brands/agencies) should be trying to piece together the puzzle together, one piece at a time. Ultimately, it is the recognition that there is no "right way" and no one-size-fits-all answer that will ultimately lead to success. Trust your own expert opinion or those of your agency partners. Together, we'll create best practices that establish tomorrow's benchmarks.

2 comments about "The Right Way To Use Video Advertising".
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  1. Tyler Lecompte from, December 9, 2008 at 2:59 p.m.


    Excellent piece on a truly confusing topic. With all the printed pieces you see coming out today about Video Advertising, User Generated Content, Metrics and Measurement, as well as Status/Predictions for industry in 2009, it can become overwhelming for anyone to accomplish anything in this arena. I hope that through all the "haze" agencies and media buyers are not experiencing "paralysis by analysis" and missing out on placing their clients/brands in some of the truly revolutionary advertising vehicles that online video can provide. What really needs to be done (and I agree there is no one-size-fits-all) is that we as an industry need to adjust our pricing/pay schedules to support their reduced budgets and (don't freak out here) perhaps even adopt a "pay for performance" model. That way our clients money is only spent when the vehicles ACTUALLY drive sales/clicks/knowledge versus pretty $50,000 videos that only get 500 views total. Best of luck to everyone trying something new in 2009, keep your head up and your costs down!

  2. Mark Rotblat from TubeMogul, December 9, 2008 at 10:01 p.m.

    Good article, Joe, but I think you miss one video option that we see being used pretty regularly among our customers, and while it further complicates the space, it needs to be considered in the advertisers arsenal. That option is where the video is the advertisement. No pre-roll, no post-roll, no overlay, but an organically placed video on video sharing sites and other publications.

    We see growth here because 1) you don't have to worry about the inventory it's attached to - you just need to focus on putting it in relevant locations, 2) there are now ways to guarantee user-initiated views in a cost effective way, and 3) the measurement capabilities like duration of video viewed, referral source, and conversion allows for one to really dig into ROI in ways that couldn't be done just a year ago.

    What's critical is to be able to compare and measure this type of spend with the others. We hope to provide some standards and rationality for the market, because to really catalyze it, we all need to be speaking the same language.

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