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Overcoming ad aversion

Audiences are willing to watch advertising, but you have to choose your moment

Cord cutters, binge watchers, content connoisseurs, sports streamers – we spend more time on screens than ever. The sheer volume of video online is growing exponentially: 78% of people watch digital content every week and over half of us (55%) consume it daily. Mobile phones are now immersive theatres, gateways to more streaming services than we could possibly subscribe to, all jostling for our attention and our credit card details.  

This presents huge challenges for businesses: how can broadcasters retain and monetise audiences in such a competitive arena? If the viewing revolution has taught us anything, it’s that the audience experience can’t just be about a glut of content, but how we engage with what we see. Increasingly, the audience wants to get up close and personal.

Video has become a natural part of the online experience that brands can use

We’ve seen in the esports space, particularly on Twitch, how the best streamers encourage interaction, creating connections with each transmission. The audience accepts tailored advertising and product placement all over the screen, absorbing it as part of the experience rather than as a disruption. It’s almost like a HUD, part of the interface, mirroring gaming culture. And while the abundance of visuals might seem like clutter to some, it doesn’t mean the lesson can’t extend to other types of content or that other audiences don’t crave extra information. How often do we watch TV while browsing the web, phone in hand?

Despite the readiness for the audience to engage, there is a lack of good solutions available. Current advertising often lacks contextual relevance and timeliness, resulting in (according to one report)
65% of people skipping online video ads as soon possible. Therefore it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to establish the commercial performance of video advertising. 

Ian Sharpe: proper personalised audience engagement, is the next frontier for content owners

Relevance is the message

Consumer interaction with video content will continue to evolve, so businesses will need to find new ways to engage, or risk falling victim to ad saturation. The goal for successful video advertising is ensuring a sale, so it must speak to the consumer by offering something worthwhile – and that means targeting.

Sophisticated behavioural targeting uses information collected by the business to reach customers based on their previous online activity. This directly indicates if they are likely to be interested in a product, in addition to uncovering what users are considering purchasing. The future of video advertising relies on businesses employing data-driven advanced behavioural techniques, to reach an engaged audience in a cost-effective manner. 

But more than that, relevance is about timeliness. Timing can mean hitting just the right moment in a particular customer journey, or leveraging the instant that a customer is ready to engage. To convert the impulse to purchase into a sale, businesses need to deliver their message at a critical juncture. Pre-roll and mid-roll don’t do that, they simply slot in before or during videos with no link to what the content is, or what the audience is experiencing. 

This is where augmented video advertising comes in. By offering the directness of a call-to-action on the screen at key moments in a drama or sports match, augmented video ads allow businesses to grab the customer’s attention and drive higher click-through rates. And the call to action is much stronger when video advertising augments the consumer experience rather than detracts from it.

Personalised advertising wins

In today’s market where consumer attention is divided across devices, only engaging, relevant video ads will command consumer attention. This is where impersonal programmatic advertising fails; consumers feel intruded upon, force-fed content they didn’t ask for. Some vendors offer one-size-fits-all solutions that suffocate, rather than entice, the consumer.

Businesses need to create content that will command their audience’s attention, such as branded experiences such as stats or polls, interactive banners and native product placements. According to a study by Jivox, personalised video advertising can boost engagement three times more than traditional ads. Businesses should use the data collected from behavioural targeting to personalise messages based on their audience’s browsing behaviour, location, time of day or demographic profile. 

Video has become a natural part of the online experience that brands can use to quickly engage their audience, particularly if it is congruent with content they might have sought out deliberately. As a result, businesses are pouring more time and resources into engaging users with extraordinary video ad content. While video advertising can be effective, consumers are now exposed to so much video content they have become adept at recognising poor quality video ads.

Businesses need to go one better than simply understanding customers: they should understand what customers want at specific points in the customer journey. By understanding the context of moments that matter, businesses can engage those who are ever harder to reach with more impact. Personalised experiences with timely relevance, that elicit the right emotional reaction, are key to breaking through the noise and creating a connection.

This article first appeared in the January 2020 issue of FEED magazine.