Behind the Curtain: Video Innovation

This post first appeared as the Ad Club’s “Behind the Curtain” column for Sept 2015 as part of their 2015 Media Innovation Conference.

Digital video is exploding in the media world right now. It is the single fastest growing advertising medium, with Business Intelligence projecting an annual growth rate of 22% through 2020. eMarketer reports that companies are spending $16B on online video advertising globally this year, with growth poised to reach $36B by 2018.  Couple that growth with the emerging battle between industry titans YouTube and Facebook, and you have a dynamic market ripe for innovation.

 

So what innovations should have our attention as we plan for brand campaigns into 2016?

Immersive Video Experiences:

Video advertisements on the web are becoming far more than repurposed television ads – they are presenting fully immersive storytelling experiences for consumers.  Immersive experiences mean that ads invite interaction; they are often tactile and touchable, encouraging engagement and pulling friends into the experience.  They can mean longer, more engaging stories, which drive emotional connection to a brand.

The ad is becoming an app.

Instead of simply using an ad to drive consumers to a web page, brands are driving more functionality in the ad itself, from driving product interaction inside the ad, to providing a rich array of consumer content, to measuring brand affinity and sentiment.

Brands are creating immersive video experiences that fit each connected platform.  For mobile phones, that can mean vertical video.  Snapchat reports that vertical video on their app delivers 9X the completed views of standard horizontal formats on mobile devices. The same video on a tablet or a desktop, where horizontal viewing is the norm, performs terribly.  This dichotomy presents creative and filming challenges for brands and agencies in running multiplatform campaigns on mobile, tablet, and desktop devices.

We are used to driving creativity in terms of the campaign, but now increasingly are being asked to think creatively in terms of the device, the platform, and the context in which the consumer is engaging.

For agencies, it represents a new frontier in creative thinking to ensure the smoothest viewing experience across platforms.

Instagram Enters the Video Fray: 

Earlier this month, Instagram made some significant announcements surrounding video. They added functionality to their mobile platform to provide landscape photo and video in an attempt to add a “more cinematic feel.”

They increased the length of video ads from 15 to 30 seconds.  Longer form videos help to generate deeper engagement and enable true storytelling.

And perhaps most importantly, Instagram is now allowing advertisers to leverage the rich data available through Facebook’s ad targeting tools. The implication here is that you can leverage data to model the ideal audience segment for targeting and retargeting initiatives across Facebook and Instagram.

Choice Wars – Interruptive Video or Consumer Choice:

Not all innovation is good innovation.  Interruptive video is one of these bad innovations. Interruptive video take many forms – a preroll video ad which runs before the video content you really want to see, or an autoplay ad which expands mid-page, takes over your field of view while you are reading content, and interrupts you as you figure out how to turn it off.

Facebook and Twitter video ads autoplay when you scroll by, and their compromise is to play the first several seconds in mute mode.  The challenge for agencies is to create compelling video that stands on its own without the aid of sound, and to make it compelling enough to draw the viewer in.  Better than a screen takeover, but not enough to be non-disruptive.

Further compounding the issue for brands is that a view is counted at 3 seconds.  It takes 3 seconds minimally to turn off or scroll by autoplay, so brands may be stuck paying for valueless views.   The bottom line is that consumers want choice, and the deepest creative innovations in video today are driven by letting them consumers decide how and when they consume video. The current model of preroll and autoplay just doesn’t fit with the trend towards consumer choice.

With the strong growth and megatrend towards creative storytelling happening right now in video, it is fascinating to dive deep into the video space and see how creative minds and hungry, engaged consumers will drive it forward.

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