Online Video Marketing: Direct Response vs. Branding

As brands and marketers shift advertising dollars to online video marketing, content becomes a key focus. Should the company invest in direct response or brand advertising? Direct response marketing is geared toward obtaining sales or leads, while brand marketing is designed to create a favorable opinion of that brand. Though both are beneficial, each form of advertising has pros and cons that brands and advertisers should be aware of.

Direct Response Marketing

Direct response videos are informative and display numerous calls-to-action (CTAs). On YouTube, brands deliver these ads in-stream, in-display and in-search. In-stream direct response ads are often intrusive and skippable, making the ad easily forgettable. In-display ads are a bit better and appear as a suggested video in the related sidebar—with these ads, brands can also target viewers by category or topic. In-search ads are ideal. With keyword targeting and a focus on searchers, in-search ads appear at the top of the YouTube search results page which means enhanced visibility with target markets.

According to a 2012 report from MediaMind, the click-through rate (CTR) for online video is 27.4 times that of standard banners and almost 12 times that of rich media ads. In terms of this measurement, online video is an effective medium for direct response advertising.


  • Cost-effective
  • No strict time limit for videos
  • Improved reach and targeting capabilities
  • Increased chance of immediate results


  • Must find balance between entertainment value and information
  • Must overcome initial viewer skepticism
  • Content must be persuasive enough to prompt immediate action
  • May negatively affect brand image if content looks poorly produced

Brand Advertising

In order to increase awareness and positively influence viewers’ opinions of a brand, companies employ brand ads. Branding videos are not just about sales; they exist to promote a strategic image, build trust and establish authority within an industry. Brands and advertisers have started to invest more heavily in branded video advertising over direct response.

A report from the CMO Council and Vizu found that 63% of marketers will increase brand advertisement investments, 51% will increase direct response spending and 64% plan on employing an even mix of the two. Additionally, 64% of marketers plan to increase spending specifically on videos designed for branding. This form of online video advertising is growing quickly and will continue to grow, predicts eMarketer. In a September report, the company displayed the expected growth of branding advertisements (see below).


In the same report, 26% of marketers rated video as a marketing tactic critical for achieving branding objectives.


  • Tailored for the increase in consumer consumption of digital media
  • Significantly increases brand awareness
  • Power to control your brand’s image in the marketplace


  • Advertisers still looking for better means of qualifying ROI
  • Lacking tools to track and manage multiple consumer interactions across screens, platforms and touch points
  • Can be expensive

Brands and advertisers have options when it comes to online video marketing. Both direct response advertising and branding offer certain benefits and should be taken into consideration when determining online video marketing objectives.

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