It's apparent that the long-awaited convergence of TV and digital video is happening. From consumer adoption of connected TVs, increasing preference for cross-screen content and decisions from major brands to move ad budgets online, it's easy to view 2014 as the launch pad for digital video's rise.
The challenge ahead is to fuse the effectiveness of video branding with the efficiencies of digital personalization. The first milestone will - of course - be measurement. The digital video market today primarily measures digital video advertising with the same metrics as traditional TV ads. Even today, in an environment in which digital has proven its power, most online video ads are un-personalized TV spots measured by the TV metrics of reach or gross ratings points (GRP).
This approach doesn’t take advantage of today's more precise measurement techniques. While reach and overall awareness are important, brands can now look directly at performance metrics that drive purchase activities, such as product research, lead generation, in-store foot traffic and offline sales.
Eyeview, the leading personalized video advertising platform, recently hosted its second "Beyond Impressions" event at New York City's Gansevoort Hotel. Focusing on the main challenges and trends in digital video, industry experts from Land Rover, Media Storm, Macy’s, Mercedes-Benz, Nielsen and others came together to share thoughts on digital advertising best practices and predictions for the future.
A common thread throughout was that advertisers everywhere must reset their thinking and throw out antiquated, TV-based approaches if we are ever to take full advantage of the full power that digital tools offer. Here are a few major discussion points and takeaways from the event.
Measurement: How to improve it and why so many marketers haven't taken advantage of better measuring techniques
Informing almost every aspect of the event's discussions, panelists cited effectively measuring the impact of specific campaigns as a huge priority for agencies and brands.
Drawing the biggest reaction of the night was Kim Kyaw, Manager of Digital Marketing and Social Media at Land Rover, when she voiced frustration over executives who continue to approach online measurement in terms of reach.
"If online is supposed to be dynamic, why would we look at GRP? As an industry, we need to do a better job measuring success... and not (only present results) in ways that c-level executives like."
Scott Martino, Marketing and Analytics Lead, Mercedes-Benz, further commented on the unique challenges in measuring online results for automotive marketers.
Since cars aren't sold online, attributing the success of online advertising is a "fundamental challenge (for) automotive marketers… the only way to actually gauge awareness is an exhibit of behavior." The only way to truly know if an online ad was effective is if it drove a consumer to visit a dealership, which can only be accomplished by tying a view to offline, post-impression activity. In other words, measuring performance, conveyed Martino.
Offering another perspective, Tom Eaton, VP Client Services, Platform Group at Nielsen, summarized why measurement today is so challenging for some companies: "The minute we think we know what to track, it changes."
Branding & awareness in a digital world
The role branding plays in digital advertising was hotly debated by a number of our panelists. With digital tools providing the ability to drive toward a specific outcome, do general brand awareness campaigns still make sense?
Relating the issue back to measurement, Martino from Mercedes-Benz continues to see a place for branding campaigns in the digital role, but "the level of scrutiny on branding campaigns will increase" as companies prioritize real-world performance.
Our experts agreed that branding remains incredibly important and branding campaigns will always play a role in most companies’ advertising strategies. Yet, digital campaigns must be optimized for specific desired outcomes as well as brand awareness.
Charlie Fiordalis, Managing Director of Digital at Media Storm, views modern advertising as all about solving the question of "I know my consumers, I know who they are - what can I say to them to get them to do what I want?" Advertisers must be connecting their brand messages to the pursuit of an end result in meaningful way.
Kyaw of Land Rover expanded on this thought, stating that advertisers must "communicate what (a) brand is to an individual consumer," versus a general audience.
What will Super Bowl 2018 look like?
Ending the night on a speculative note, panelists were asked to share their thoughts on how personalized digital video advertising will evolve over the next few years by putting the question in context of the most demanding and preeminent advertising event - The Super Bowl.
In our panelists' minds, there was no doubt that advertising around the 2018 Super Bowl will be considerably different than what we have experienced in previous years. Fiordalis of Media Storm envisioned a future in which "…media is fragmented because people are watching (the Super Bowl) across their own screens," rather than in front of one TV. Acknowledging that the Super Bowl is a shared experience, Fiordalis went on to speculate on how brands might better take advantage of this by personalizing the context in which fans of either team would be reacting to a touchdown in real-time.
Wrapping the event up, Jon Anselmo, SVP Managing Director, Digital Innovation at MediaVest, believed we will continue to see standard TV commercials alongside more effective digital video content, but his dream is "a billion messages to a billion people, all personalized."
Amit Mashiah is SVP of Strategy and Communications of Eyeview, a leading personalized online video advertising platform.