As I watch more video online these days, I’m exposed to a lot more pre-roll advertising. But one thing I’ve noticed is that unlike other forms of online advertising that are racing towards more attributable models, pre-roll video seems to languish in a sea of sameness and passivity.
I get it. It’s because we’re trying to create a frictionless way for those TV dollars to migrate onto the web.
But let’s not succumb to the cognitive dissonance that replaces common sense with a belief that ads that we don’t pay attention to on TV will magically get us to pay attention online. Buying video ads on a GRP basis online without care for context and attribution is a slippery slope that gets us in the same sticky situation — chief executives questioning ROI.
We need to find, fund, and test solutions that break free from this trap, and land somewhere in between reach (which we [correctly or incorrectly] assume works) and engagement (such as interactivity, which people have historically rejected in their video advertising).
Ive seen some progress in this area with Hulu Ad Selector, and YouTube’s skippable videos. What I’m also seeing is that the right level of video ad targeting for a brand is a factor of the viewer multiplied by the amount of context, choice, relevance, and frankly, intrusion these video ads bring with them. There will be continual pressure — as more data is available, and more consumers become “connected” — to bridge the gap between view to an action. The demand for being able to do this online is inevitable. Innovations in mobile payments will eventually help us close the gap completely to offline spending.
In full disclosure, I sit on the board of directors of Solve Media. I’ve been impressed with the developments that they’ve made in their quest to address this cognitive dissonance in the video marketplace, and their effort to move things forward. It rocks the boat, but this pre-roll boat needs rocking. Now that I know video advertising that can also deliver engagement is possible, this is a call to all the brands and agencies that create and buy video advertising, and the other vendors, networks, and exchanges that run and sell them: figure out better ways to attribute the effectiveness of video ads based upon their ability to not only affect typical brand health metrics, but also drive engagement. Understand how different kinds of engagement contribute to the achievement of your business objectives. Do the research and the math. As digital video and television remain on a collision course, you have less time than you might think to figure this all out.
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