Avoiding Digital Video Apathy

Marketers using digital video need to innovate to overcome the receptivity challenge

By Jane Ostler, Sector MD - Media, Digital and BrandZ at Millward Brown

Despite media consumption becoming increasingly fragmented, Europeans still spend more than three hours a day watching video according to Millward Brown’s latest AdReaction survey

More than half of that viewing time is on a digital device, which provides marketers with an opportunity to cut through the media clutter, but the simple approach of putting the TV ad online may not be the most effective thing to do.

The challenge of reaching out to people when they are not receptive to advertising can appear an unsurmountable hurdle. Some marketers worry that it may damage their brand if they get it wrong.

There’s no denying that it is harder to please a digital audience with only 19% positive to viewing video ads on a digital device compared to 29% on TV. Further, 61% of smartphone users have a negative attitude towards receiving advertising altogether, and this will contribute to the increasing use of adblockers.  

Millward Brown’s consumer research shows that the following rules will keep digital audiences happy.

Rule 1: Give back control

One of the reasons that people are less receptive to digital video is that they don’t feel as in control as they do in the TV world, where ad-supported content is more accepted. People expect control in digital video, like click-to-play, or skipping an ad on YouTube. Certainly people are more receptive to ad formats that they can avoid, than they are to autoplay and non-skippable ads.

In many ways this is really no different to how it’s always been in TV - even with great creative, you can always go and put the kettle on in the ad break.

Rule 2: Start with an idea

You need to encourage people not to skip, and one of the ways to do this is with great creative. Advertising needs to capture attention early. A compelling first frame, particularly for click-to-play video formats such as Twitter’s video ads, is even more critical for digital video.  Even the best ads can lose the majority of the audience in the first 10 seconds. Consider evoking emotion that makes people feel something – whether it’s to laugh or cry. Or a personalised experience that doesn’t make them feel stalked or watched.

Rule 3: Think digital first

We’ve been saying it for years: video creative should start with digital, not a 30” ad that’s been designed for TV. Perhaps creative agencies need a digital video spy, whose role is to ensure that the creative process is always digital first? 

Of course digital video doesn’t work in isolation and so care must be taken to evaluate the campaign across all media to ensure that you are capturing the consumer journey rather than evaluating a single media format.

Rule 4: Innovate continuously

Advertising isn’t always the answer and more brands are creating their own video content. New formats such as Facebook Live mean that marketers will start to innovate with live video for their brands.

The digital video landscape is constantly evolving, providing continuous opportunities for brands to engage with consumers in new way. Not all formats will be relevant, but there is a strong argument that simply by doing something different and new that engagement can be increased.

Avoiding digital video apathy

Ultimately the goal with all advertising is to be effective and to be where the people are, at the right time. Marketers now need to think short-form first, optimise their advertising creative to capture attention quickly and invest in innovative formats in the same way that they do with new products and services - not just use the TV ad.

People are paying less attention to advertising than ever before, so marketers need to work harder to counter the receptivity challenge. Despite the challenges of getting it right, digital video is the way forward.

Jane Ostler is Sector MD – Media, Digital and BrandZ at Millward Brown and will be joining the panel to discuss Cross Screen Video on Thursday 21 April at 9.45am on The Guardian Stage.  Register to attend here: http://advertisingweek.eu/calendar/-cross-screen-video-2016-04-21-1630