Video advertising works, but emotion is everything

We often discuss the value of viral video in a brand’s marketing matrix, but online video also has a part to play in more conventional marketing as the Web audience becomes more accustomed to feasting their eyes on short video ads — but online video ads are becoming much more widely accepted and, at best, can be deeply effective. A few thoughts on online video advertising, how it is growing and what it might do for you and your business.

[ABOVE: This is the top online ad of last week, according to AdAge.]

Audiences are growing more interested

YouTube has been lacing its content offerings with advertising since before its acquisition by Google. Todays, YouTube video publishers with significant traffic can enjoy a slice of advertising income.

Across this time audiences have become far less resistant to video advertising, which recently crossed a significant milestone: the US now watches 10 billion online video ads each month (ComScore).

There’s still work to do increase the effectiveness of video advertising, as the report confirms that while US audiences are watching more ads than before, the reach of those ads remains at around 50 percent.

This suggests that while some viewers are choosing to watch more ads than they did before, others (around half) still refuse to watch them or isn’t yet watching the kind of material these ads are likely to be featured around.

The momentum for online video ads is clear to see: video ad impressions climbed 32 percent between February 2012 and February 2013. Video ads accounted for 23 percent of all videos viewed and 2 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.

With 2.2 billion served in February 2013, YouTube/Google served the most ads, followed by the BrightRoll Video Network (1.6 billion) and Hulu (1.4 billion).

It seems clear that those of us in the business of creating video ads need to focus on brevity: users spend around 24-seconds watching any given ad.  This suggests the most successful advertising will consist of clear, brief content developed to be as engaging as possible.

[ABOVE: Evian’s ad was the third most popular last week.]

Focus on emotion

Video ads reached more than 50 percent of the total U.S. population an average of 63 times during the month. Hulu delivered the highest frequency of video ads to its viewers with an average of 61, while CBS Interactive and Google Sites tied for second with an average of 23 ads per viewer.

As consumers choose to engage with video online it seems inevitable the value of video advertising will also increase. A 2011 Futuresource Consulting report predicted the consumption of free and paid for online video is expected to exceed 770 billion views across the USA, UK, France and Germany. “Brands have only recently started to harness the full potential of online video,” said Futuresource Consulting analyst, Mai Hoang at that time.

Things have moved on. $4.62 million was spent on online video ads last year, according to Forrester Consulting.

So, what should we try to achieve when developing video ads? Interestingly they seem to follow the same mantra as what it takes when attempting to craft viral video: online viewers seem to respond to emotion.

“Online videos which elicit strong positive emotions, such as hilarity or exhilaration, are shared most often. At minimum, it is shared 30 per cent more often than material that draws any other emotional response from its audience. This may seem obvious, but currently more than 70 per cent of all commercial videos evoke weak emotions,” says Unruly CEO, Phil Townend. Videos that elicit strong emotions are also remembered much more than other forms of video content.

The stronger the emotion, the more likely it is going to be shared.

Townend continues: “Brands should aim to create content that makes us weep a river, laugh out loud or shiver with delight as opposed to merely smile or frown. That’s the way to get cut-through when there’s so much content available. The brands of the future are the brands creating content outside of the traditional 30-second TV spots that elicits a powerful emotional response from their audience.”

Effective video ads are (and sorry for the repetition) effective — particularly if they become popular enough that viewers recommend the ads to others.  The Unruly Social Ad Effectiveness Study reveals that brand recall and brand association rose 7 per cent among viewers who had been recommended the video versus viewers who found it by browsing.

Even more revealing, the report reveals that purchase intent rises by 97 percent among viewers who watch ads recommended by their friends.

In other words, not only are online video ads becoming more popular, but the very best ads can be extraordinarily effective.


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