The future of digital video advertising

The future of digital video advertising

The explosion of video consumption on the Internet in recent years is well documented, with YouTube racking up 4 billion views every day and an incredible 300 hours of new content being uploaded every minute. Impressive. But then consider that 323 day’s worth of YouTube video content is viewed on Facebook every minute! The numbers are almost incomprehensible, but what’s for certain is that video is an unstoppable force in our every day Internet lives – and spreading across platforms. According to Cisco, by 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic.

Aside from the millions of Minecraft walk-throughs and cute kitten videos, brands, their agencies and professional content creators are embracing the opportunities of cheap, global distribution and targeted viewership opportunities offered by content delivery networks such as YouTube, Facebook and Dailymotion.

Why is digital video advertising so popular?

The accessibility, cost and potential of video advertising makes it an irresistible draw for many brands – with over 63% of advertisers reporting that video willdominate their strategies moving forward. Unique to Internet video advertising is the opportunity to go viral – achieving phenomenal global viewership at an almost insignificant production and distribution cost thanks to social sharing. Who wouldn’t want a slice of that action?

A great example of this working so well in the charity sector was Save The Children’s ‘Most Shocking Second a Day Video’ – achieving nearly 50m views to date. Volkswagen’s ‘The Force’ advert is currently topping the commercial viral charts with 62.7m views.

Could these brands have achieved such success by diverting their video content budgets to more traditional platforms, such as TV and outdoor? This surveyresult from Brightroll’s 2015 ‘Advertising Agency Survey’, which polled 120 of the leading ad agencies in the US would suggest not:

Measuring success

But what exactly is effectiveness? How do brands and agencies actually measure ROI? That’s the biggest question facing content producers at the moment, and why some of the bigger (and smaller) brands are biding their time before spending big in digital. The problem is, there’s no definitive KPI that proves that a piece of content has delivered what it was supposed to do, and different campaigns may be judged on different criteria depending on their goals. This ranking of success metrics from the same survey is an interesting read:

In some ways it’s symptomatic of the caution shown by some brands – if completed views (20%) is the most important metric, what does that actually mean in terms of a campaign ROI, especially if impact on sales (4%) is the least important? Does it tell us that brands (and agencies) are overly obsessed with just getting content out there, seen and talked about than actually shifting the products and/or services they’re advertising?

Maybe, but video is rarely deployed as a cold, hard sales conversion tool. Well produced video evokes emotion – and that’s gold for brands. So, a video might not result in a user clicking the ‘Buy’ button immediately after viewing the content, but the feeling and sentiment they feel for a particular brand at that time can be manipulated in a powerful way, strongly influencing their probability of becoming a customer in the near future.

Quality content

It’s been fascinating to see how ‘branded content’ has developed – essentially brands producing engaging, emotive and quality short form content, and then sticking their logo at the end. Brands and agencies realised that it’s all about the content, and not the direct sales message when developing strategies for successful video deployment across social.

One of my personal branded content favourites is this short film from Vodafone, one in a series of #Firsts – essentially a collection of short stories of empowerment; people doing things they’ve always dreamed of for the first time. Not necessarily the first thing you think of when selecting a new phone carrier, but this film achieved over 4m views when it was released.

The increased desire of brands to become quality content producers is great news for video production agencies, as not only does it provide increased revenue, but most importantly, enables them to experiment and create more daring, exciting and engaging content rather than sticking to the more traditional corporate style videos.

What type of content?

But what content should brands be producing to give them the highest probability of achieving shares online? An interesting read is Levels Beyond’s 2014 survey ‘Brands Not Meeting Consumer Desire for Video’ – a poll of 1,000 consumers and 500 marketers which set out to differentiate what viewers actually wanted to see and what brands were producing. Here’s an indication of content type popularity:

Now consider what brands are actually producing:

Content analytics

Video also provides marketers with a wealth of content analytics, such as the ability to track engagement and consumer sentiment with comments, shares and forwards. And since it’s a self-contained asset within a marketing campaign, it’s easy to separate out a specific video’s performance from, say, a radio advert or display board. This chart from ‘Analysing the ROI of Video Marketing’ demonstrates this enhancement:

Comparing digital to TV advertising

With the increasing consumption of media online, it’s surprising to see that TV advertising is still holding strong – for now. Mainstream advertisers tend to stick to what they know – and inserting advertising in-between long form content has proven a successful strategy for many years. However, as generations of Internet-savvy youths and adults begin to outnumber the more tech-averse baby boomer generation, no doubt we’ll see a continuation in the trend of watching content away from the main family TV screen – as these charts from Digiday show:

Predictably, the device on which viewers consume their content is shifting from TV to Internet-enabled devices, and interestingly the time spent consuming digital video on these devices is converging – with traditional laptops/desktops slowing and smartphones and connected devices accelerating as their popularity increases and price point decreases.


Video advertising is here to stay. An increasing number of brands are using online video to sell their products and services – BUT many of them are producing the wrong types of content and optimising for the wrong devices. Millennials (which make up a large target audience for many campaigns) demand creativity, authenticity and humour to deem branded content desirable enough to share – and most watch on mobile or connected devices, so consider that when putting together strategies.

Creativity is key – and will always reign superior over production budget. Combining the right dose of emotional impact with creative execution is a great way to think when measuring up any new treatment. Ask yourself, “how is my viewer going to feel when they watch my film and why on earth would they feel they need to share it with their friends”? Get that right and you’re on to a winner.

(This post was originally published on the RAW Productions blog)