• 3 Key Themes From Online Video Advertising's Front Lines

    Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending the Video Ad Effectiveness Summit in NYC, presented by Nielsen and Beet.TV. The afternoon was broken into 3 panels of 3-5 executives from the media, publishing and agency worlds, all of whom are all deeply immersed in online video advertising. The discussions were expertly moderated by Beet.TV's Andy Plesser and Furious Minds' Ashley Swartz. I took a bunch of notes, which I distilled into 3 key themes that I thought emerged from the discussions.

    1. It's still difficult to measure ad effectiveness across screens
    One of the recurring points of the day was that it is still extremely difficult to measure video ads' effectiveness across all of the relevant screens - TV, online, tablet and smartphone. In a nutshell, the prevailing view was that a single source panel would be too expensive and that "Big Data" type models aren't granular enough. The result is a mix of approaches and research studies intended to show that cross-screen video advertising works. The good news is that these are indeed showing upside, and there's a general sense in the market that using multiple screens is beneficial. Another positive is Nielsen's Online Campaign Ratings (OCR), which was cited repeatedly as providing buyers/advertisers with comfort that online ads are reaching their intended audiences. Still, the inability to easily demonstrate cross-screen ad effectiveness underscores the how nascent online video advertising still is.

    2. Chief Marketing Officers value "safety and security" of TV, look for proof of online video advertising's effectiveness
    Related to the measurement problem, the prevailing view from the panelists was that despite rising awareness among CMOs that they need to allocate spending to online video, they are still reluctant to commit significantly. A lot of this boils down to the "safety and security" that TV advertising provides. TV has established (albeit imperfect) measurement and the ability to correlate spending/GRPs with sales results. Per point #1 above, online video does not yet have either. For CMOs, whose average tenure is a mere 42 months, the choice is between what's known and works vs. what's relatively new and as yet not fully proven. Online video still needs to demonstrate it can achieve the same awareness metrics that TV can, and also deliver some of the transactional/interactive benefits that are often touted.

    3. The need to experiment and learn is critical
    Following on point #2, many of the panelists believe that now is a time when everyone must be experimenting and learning. For advertisers and agencies, it's impossible to feel like you know your job 100% anymore because so much of the landscape is changing. Areas of learning cited included programmatic advertising (already big in display, now happening in video), social, mobile and whether/how to deploy purpose-built creative for each platform. One of the new skills required in the ad business is learning how to place selective bets early, to capitalize on trends that may or may not emerge.

    Though online video advertising has numerous growing pains, there is huge excitement about it, primarily because consumers are watching more than ever. As has always been the case in advertising, money flows to where the eyeballs are. Online video is no exception. There was a general consensus that online video will continue to prove itself, and as it does, even more advertisers will participate, to an ever greater degree.