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Get Your Ad Game On

Optimising content for viewing on any device, at any time and anywhere is becoming the norm, and ads must keep up.

Words by Mark Blair, SVP international, Brightcove

A report last month from the Interactive Advertising Bureau said that almost 60% of advertisers’ digital budgets are being allocated to video, and half of those ad buyers plan to increase that video spending in the next year.

The video advertising landscape is always evolving. As handheld devices become the default means of accessing content worldwide, mobile video advertising will be rising to the top of the heap, and video advertising strategies are going to have to be more nimble and of higher quality than ever before.

We are moving towards a video landscape which will be dominated by connected devices in the home. As the mobile device market becomes saturated, and more and more connected devices enter our lives – assisted by 5G networks – connected viewing of anything, on anything, from anywhere will be the norm. This opens up more and more opportunities, and challenges, for online video advertising.

In the new landscape, traditional advertising will be entirely digital advertising. We won’t even think of it as ‘digital’ per se. It will all be digital, and fully addressable. Content will be pushed to any device and it will be single technology that’s delivering both the content and the ads.

The Right Ad To The Right Person

We are at a point where technology is allowing us to target advertising with tremendous precision. In the coming years, serving ads will be less a matter of sorting out the right technology to use, than of optimising the experience for each device that ad content might appear on. There will be opportunities for differentiating the ad experience for each viewer on each device, based on a variety of viewing parameters – time of day, location, content being viewed. If a viewer is watching something in the morning, at a bus stop, they’ll be served a much shorter ad, whereas lean-back watching in the evening is going to allow a very different experience.

Advertisers and agencies are increasingly going to have to offer full service digital campaigns. This will involve a sit down with a broadcaster to explain exactly how to run a campaign across different channels, different devices, aimed at different audience segments. The agency of next year will develop the efficiency to operate a campaign across the entire spectrum, and the broadcaster will also have the efficiency to buy into that process with a single transaction.

Improving Audience Engagement

This world of ubiquitous digital ad reach requires a solid foundation if it is to work at its optimum, and that foundation is always going to be the relationship with the customer.  So what are some of the best strategies for collaborating with your viewers?

First of all, context is key to success. You need to get as much information as possible about the viewing environment in which an ad is being served. Customer data is one of your most valuable assets.

But all your deep customer insights will be for naught if you aren’t offering the best possible experience. An advertiser’s mandate is to deliver engaging and informative experiences. Quality matters. When a viewer is watching online video, expectations are no different than if they were watching something on a terrestrial HD service. They will have little tolerance for buffering and they’ll expect the ad and content quality to be the same as the traditional TV experience. 

Audio quality is no less important. Customers expect seamlessly normalised audio, and they’ll get angry if they have to jump to reduce the volume when their programme switches to an ad. With Brightcove’s server side ad insertion we always normalise the audio levels from ad content to media content to provide that high quality of experience, no matter what device is being used. 

Service reliability is also essential, and that reliability of service has to extend across devices and locations. A viewer is going to want an identical, glitch-free experience whether she is watching something at home on her couch, or in a café on holiday in a foreign country.

Own The Data

You also want to ensure that your relationship with your customers is as one to one as possible. And one of the best ways of doing that is to make sure that you own all the data. You don’t want all the customer information you have to also be freely accessible to your competitor. 

Look closely at the terms and conditions you have with your vendors to be sure that you have full control over the data and that it can’t be shared in ways you don’t want it to be.

This month, GDPR comes into effect. This European General Data Protection Regulation will provide stiffer rules about what can and can’t be done with viewer data, but rather than disadvantaging vendors by potentially decimating their databases, the new laws are going to prove to be a real benefit in the long term. Consumer trust is going to be boosted, the databases that vendors end up with will be of higher quality, and with other countries looking with interest at the European law, it may lead to more universal standards and practices for data collection.

Of all the core metrics you’re collecting, engagement data is arguably the most important. One of the great advantages of video is as it plays out, you get clear data points about where people are engaging with content and at exactly what point they stop. 

Ad Alternatives

There are alternatives to advertising, of course. SVOD and TVOD are valid options, provided the content is at a value where it can be monetised. In non-European markets, primarily Asia and the Middle East, a micro-payment model has had success, often integrated in telco systems.

World TV drama portal Walter Presents, for example, uses Brightcove’s turnkey SVOD platform, with a very small team, to run a successful subscription platform. The cost of delivering video services has really come down.

Sponsorship can be a good alternative to advertising too for things like short-form content. You might look at a niche sport that has a high net worth audience behind it, or a big sport with a specific regional limitation. Having access to that highly specific audience can be very appealing
for sponsors.

But advertising isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it is going everywhere – and learning how to negotiate the opportunities in a fully streaming landscape is going to be one of the greatest assets you can have. 

This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of FEED magazine.