YouTube may have become synonymous with online video, but only one in four video views take place on the player, according to comScore.
With the emergence of Facebook as a rival in the video market, the continuing fragmentation of video viewership across platforms and apps as diverse as Tumblr, Snapchat and Keek, that figure is set to further diminish in 2015. In fact, two-thirds of video views occur beyond Facebook or YouTube, taking place instead on the open web.
As larger ad budgets move across to programmatic video, brands are learning how to leverage programmatic tools and data to access the open web at speed and scale, in order to maximise social sharing on launch and effectively engage target audiences with video content they actually want to watch and share on social.
Here are our top 10 tips on powering up with programmatic:
1 This is social video – don’t be antisocial
If you’re building a long-term relationship with consumers, you want to be social, not antisocial. This means creating content that people want to watch and share, content that genuinely makes an emotional connection and starts a conversation. Then make sure it is shareable across your programmatic buys.
Putting the consumer in control is key. Use demand-side platforms that give you access to social inventory and avoid antisocial display and pre-roll units that force consumers to watch your ads. Think skippable pre-roll rather than interruptive; click-to-play video units rather than interstitials or pop-ups that hijack your screen; and on mobile make sure that you are buying native ads rather than banners that consume valuable on-screen real estate and drive accidental clicks.
2 Put anti-fraud measures in place
With programmatic buying, there are new distances between buyers and sellers, making trust, transparency and verification more important than ever. You should work only with vendors that actively monitor both for brand-safe environments and human traffic, and are willing to provide guarantees and be held to them by third-party verification companies, such as Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify.
If you’re not comfortable with your brand safety controls, stay off open exchanges and restrict buys to private marketplaces and programmatic direct deals. White lists might feel like a safety blanket but they’re a fools errand on open exchanges, where inventory availability changes on an hourly basis.
3 Seek viewability guarantees
ComScore reported this year that less than half of all video ads are seen by humans. So consider these guidelines: choose formats that guarantee viewability; buy on viewability or seek percentage viewability guarantees; optimise against viewability as a key performance indicator (KPI); choose a measurement vendor that is MRC-accredited like MOAT; and understand the difference between display and video viewability – the latter is defined as at least 50% of the ad being in view for a minimum of two continuous seconds.
4 Integrate TV and digital buying
TV and digital video should not be siloed. With social video in particular, syncing digital ads with a TV ad schedule can amplify the impact of TV ads, create significant online conversation and ensure content is discoverable and shareable online. This is especially vital when around 40% of TV viewers are tuned into a second screen while watching TV.
5 Choose your KPIs with care
Bear in mind that deeper engagement metrics such as interaction rates and share rates are less susceptible to fraud and gaming than completion or viewability rates. For example, set your buy to optimise for completion rate and you could find yourself running autoplaying videos below-the-fold. They deliver the best completion rates because users do not know they are there, so they play through without anyone seeing the ad. The completion metrics will look fantastic but it is wasted spend. Why the disconnect? Because machines don’t exercise judgement, they follow rules.
6 Put people at the centre of programmatic campaigns
Campaign quality requires human judgement: maybe this will change one day but for now, we wouldn’t trust a vendor that says “the machine is failsafe or fraud-proof”.
It is important to make sure you have able people monitoring your programmatic video campaign and reviewing media quality too. When a machine optimises for a KPI, it does so blindly and at the expense of everything else.
7 Use the open web to get video content discoverable and shareable at speed and scale in the first crucial days
The speed of sharing has doubled in 2014. With two-thirds of all brand video shares occurring within the first week of launch, it’s vital to launch hard and fast in this critical launch phase or risk losing out on potential online buzz. Open exchanges, bringing access to giant pools of inventory, can help to spread the word far and fast.
8 Make social sharing a KPI
Sharing drives earned media, which makes for a more cost-efficient buy. It also correlates with other quality metrics and brand uplift metrics such as recall, favourability and intent to purchase. We found that shared video increases viewer enjoyment by 14%, increasing purchase intent by 97%, growing brand favourability by 35% and brand recall by 14%.
Sharing is difficult to earn and therefore harder to game than passive metrics such as views, viewability and completion. So make sure shares and share rate are key metrics or at least quality controls when setting up programmatic campaigns.
9 Target super-sharers to maximise earned media
Around 80% of video shares online are driven by just 20% of internet users, our data shows. So if you want to reach the people driving viral spread, be sure to target ‘super-sharer’ data segments. Re-target the people who have shared your content before and if you’re looking for laser-targeted word of mouth, as opposed to a broadcast approach, you can use custom-sharer segments to target viewers who are predisposed to share your specific creative.
10 Scale your native video advertising
Custom content does not scale, but well-integrated display and video units do. The best way to scale your native video advertising is by using open platforms rather than walled gardens, so you can use first- and third-party data for audience targeting and have flexibility on third-party verification. Use platforms that dynamically adjust the shape and style of the content rather than clunkily spawning hundreds of ill-fitting templates. Use video formats with cut-through in social feeds: silently playing video in the mobile news feed is much grabbier and much less manipulative than tactics that resort to sexed up still images and linkbait text.