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August 12, 2008

Video Insider: Marketers Are From Mars, Viewers Are From Venus: Three Keys To a Satisfying (Online Video Advertising) Relationship

DURING A COCKTAIL PARTY A few weeks ago, a newly single friend of mine gulped down his third Scotch, slammed down his glass and announced, “Okay, I give up. What the heck do women want? I used to think I understood them, but these days, I’m completely stumped.”

Being the supportive friend that I am, I offered him a few words of wisdom (“Beats me, but let me know when you find out”) handed him another drink and promptly changed the subject. But later that night as my thoughts turned to work, I remembered his words and realized that the business of marketing in an online video environment is going through a similar life stage. As marketers, we are starting to get to know online video viewers — what they want and how they want to be treated. Sometimes we connect well and other times we find ourselves, well, stumped.

Here are three rules of the relationship I think marketers should keep in mind to ensure that their video advertising efforts win the hearts of consumers:

1) Length matters. It’s no secret that the 30-second pre-roll is both reviled and at the same time delivers more in-video weight than any other ad unit. But just how much do viewers dislike their length? At Veoh, we’ve found that viewers are 40% more likely to abandon the video experience during a 30-second pre-roll ad than a 15-second pre-roll ad. And contrary to popular opinion, we’ve found that viewers are just as turned off by 30-second pre-rolls before long-form video as they are by pre-rolls before short clips. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a 3-minute clip or a 30-minute episode: viewers have narrowed their windows of ad acceptance.

As a marketer, it’s best not to let your viewers walk out the door before you’ve finished your best pick-up line. Make the extra creative investment and showcase your charm in a 15-second (or shorter) introduction.

2) Your best prospects are already engaged. When choosing video sites for your media buy, it’s important to make sure the site partners have highly loyal and engaged audiences. Why? Because viewers who are not yet familiar with or engaged in a site are much less accepting of ads during their viewing experience. We found that heavy video viewers (viewers who visit the site and watch a video at least six times per month) are 50% more likely to continue watching a video after a pre-roll than are light and new viewers. In addition, heavy viewers are more than 10 times more likely than light or new viewers to accept a pre-roll ad within the first video they watch in a session without abandoning the experience.

So in an online video environment, if the majority of the viewers are already “taken,” you’ll actually have a much better chance of making a strong connection.

3) It’s always better with an audience. Yes, network TV shows are great, but the only way to take full advantage of Web video is by targeting audiences rather than following a traditional TV model of buying around content. The same valuable viewers who watch full-length network sitcoms are also watching independent studio productions and popular video clips – so why not reach them throughout their entire viewing experience? In addition to increasing the number of opportunities for marketers to reach consumers, ads that target audiences based on their behaviors and interests are much more relevant to and therefore well-received by online video viewers.

For example, during a recent national family restaurant campaign, we saw that ads that were behaviorally targeted to the family-focused audience performed 20 times better than basic contextually targeted companion ads – and yielded a higher number of impressions than they would have received if targeting a single show. Make sure to work with your video site partners to identify viewer behavior segments that fit with your brand’s target audience – it’s the best way to start a positive conversation with a video viewer (and much cheaper than buying them a cocktail).

In any budding relationship, it’s very easy to overlook the basics when you’re trying to make a good impression. As marketers, if we listen to what our viewers want and pay more attention to their unique interests, we can build more exciting and lasting relationships in online video environments.

Mike Henry is senior vice president of advertising sales at Veoh Networks, a leading Internet television company with more than 28 million unique monthly viewers worldwide and over 100,000 content publishers including CBS, ViacomÂ’s MTV Networks, ABC, Warner Bros. Television Group, ESPN and Lions Gate, as well as thousands of independent filmmakers and content producers.