Exploring the Online Video Advertising Boom (Webchat Summary)

Coull CEO Irfon Watkins recently took part in a live webchat hosted by The Guardian. The chat brought together a number of selected industry experts to discuss their views on the online video advertising boom. Some great points were raised, a few debates and some predictions for the next few years of advertising.

We’re a generation that have grown up with TV advertising, whether we watch it or not. But with online media now dominating our everyday consumption, how much should we be investing in online advertising, video and mobile? The IAB reports that UK digital ad spend has reached a record high of over £3 billion in the first 6 months of 2013 (source: IAB).

Below I have highlighted some of the key questions and answers that arose from the webchat.

Q: For publishers video is the most valuable inventory - but will that bubble burst as it becomes more mainstream?

A strong opinion from the panel was that as online video becomes more and more measurable, more money will be put in to it from TV budgets. There’s also a suspicion that video inventory will become more expensive as metrics improve. Doesn’t everything?

Q: Mobile video is exploding (including tablets), what are the challenges that this area is facing?

The major problem at the moment is being able to track and measure across mobile devices.  Paul Coggins from Ebuzzing says that mobile technology “is so fragmented, that up until now the industry has ignored the need for some form of industry standard in terms of delivery / tracking and reporting. This should be an industry priority”.

As it stands, the lack of measurability is making advertising investment risky when budgets are being challenged.

Q: What makes an effective and interesting video ad?

Irfon believes that the most effective ads are the most relevant ones. He states that relevance should be determined by the content, not by second-guessing the intent of the user.

Adding a control element and an interactivity element also works wonders. Zach Weiner, from Emerging Insider Communications, says that they’ve been seeing far more exceptional responses to video when consumers are asked to participate in the format in an engaging manner. This sense of control allows an ownership of the ad, and for a consumer to feel like they are part of a two way conversation.

An interesting point was raised about how the increase in consumption of digital video and far more ads appearing will desensitize consumers (like we’ve seen in TV), so it’s important to keep things personalized and “making sure creative remains king”.

Q: One of the big challenges the display market is facing is ad blocking – is that a potential threat to online video too?

Celine Saturnino from Total Media raises a good point about how the benefit video has is it's shareability. A lot of video content is discovered across social networks where consumers are actively sharing content - here, there are no ads blocking them.

Others believe that ad blocking is a major threat, but there is more that publishers can do to improve the situation. Vincent Flood from Video Ad News says that publishers “should be reminding users that ads enable people - all people - to have things for free.” He also suggests that publishers could start implementing technical solutions to combat the problem.

Is this going against the grain though? Consumers are using ad-blockers for a reason. How will they respond when their software is then blocked by publishers? Irfon argues that ads will be blocked when they are annoying and irrelevant. Not due to their content but how they are presented to the consumer. We must get smarter in the delivery.

Q: So given that the way forward seems to be personalized, relevant and engaging ads, do we think that we will achieve this ‘nirvana’ of great ads, or this just a pipe dream?

Irfon made a good point here; “We are a long way from getting consent from consumers to track them in order to deliver these super-personalised ads. We should be addressing accurately targeting relevant advertising based on content, device and location. I think that will be the basic premise of buying video ads in 5 years.”

Another opinion is that super-personalization of videos comes at a cost - content quality. Targeting is a way of satisfying already existing consumer needs. Mihkel Jaatma from RealEyes says that “video should be about branding and shifting/creating new needs - that's where the big opportunity lies for brands”.

 

In all, it was a fantastic webchat with some really interesting and valid points being raised. In one hour, the panelists explored a huge range of topics surrounding online video advertising, from the issues and benefits of pre-roll ads to debating the future of programmatic ad buying. You can still check out the full conversation over on The Guardian - click here and scroll down for the comments section. It was great to be involved.

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