Digital Video Ads Reign Supreme

As services like YouTube Premium, on-demand TV, and many others have shown, viewers are willing to pay for ad-free content. So, is advertising as we know it dead? Hardly. In fact, digital advertising – and video in particular – is hotter than ever, with the market for online video ads expected to reach $61 billion next year.

 So, what’s driving the continued growth of new advertising formats and placements? While cost comes into play for some people, it’s certainly not the only factor. The biggest shift we’re seeing is the desire for relevant content based on an individuals’ preferences, behaviors and content consumption. Today’s viewers are much more willing to watch and engage with ads relevant to their interests. A recent report suggests that 68% would be willing to watch ads relevant to their interests in order to watch fewer ads overall.

Given the pressures publishers and advertisers are under to engage viewers with relevant content and ultimately grow revenue, we’re seeing increased focus and investments in OLV pre-roll ads. 

So, yes, people are still watching ads – but are the ads effective? There are three key factors to consider when determining the right digital advertising strategy: Reach, relevancy, and receptiveness.

  1. Reach

As with traditional advertising, it’s important that you’re reaching a large audience with lots of views and engagement. Research from Nielsen’s Total Ad Ratings solution suggests that digital video ad campaigns drive 16% more reach. When considering what type of digital video ads make the biggest impact, pre-roll and OLV ads are rising to the top. Advertisers have started to see how valuable these ads are in also targeting and reaching niche audiences.  Desirable OLV platforms are able to not only provide these audiences at scale but deliver them in brand safe and transparent environments. 

  1. Relevance

Probably the most critical factor when determining the success of an ad campaign is ensuring the content is contextually relevant to the individual. With the impending death of the cookie, a multi-faceted contextual advertising campaign will need to be a massive part of any brand’s strategy going forward.  Advertisers and publishers need a new and more reliable approach to delivering relevant content – at the right time, with the right message, to the right person.  

For example, an advertiser positioning their brand of paint, in an article about the best way to transform your living room, on a home improvement/DIY publisher site, can probably rest assured they are getting an engaged viewer.  This offers brands who want to be associated with the content a heightened level of contextual relevance.  

The key is offering high-quality content in an engaging advertising-based environment. Contextual editorial video content dramatically increases a consumer’s engagement and recollection of video advertising on a web page. The results speak for themselves: WARC reported a 65% jump in brand lift and a 71% increase in stated purchase intent on ads viewed in the relevant context. Another IRI report on the consumer impact of contextually relevant advertising found that marketers can increase ROI by up to 30% with the right context strategy.

A new study has shown that 73% of consumers think contextual relevance complemented the overall video experience, and that contextual targeting increases purchase intent by 63% and intent to recommend by 83%. Another study showed that contextually relevant ads can increase ROI by 30%.

  1. Receptiveness

It can be the greatest advertisement ever created but it doesn’t mean the advertiser will see the ROI they’re expecting. When done right, digital video ads can help move potential customers through multiple stages of the funnel more quickly than almost any other type of touchpoint – as consumers are way more likely to watch a video than read a block of text or spend 15 seconds considering an image. That’s why video ads consistently see higher engagement rates and time spent than other types of ads.

Audiences generally view pre-roll OLV creatives with a high rate of receptiveness. In fact, only 17% of users feel that pre-roll ads are interruptive. In the OLV setting, pre-roll offers a locked-in experience for viewers, where there is a universally accepted transaction of watching an impression per piece of video, allowing brands to get more closely associated with the content.  

For instance, a brand advertising against Yankees content could receive added boosts in favorability metrics from the Bronx Bomber Faithful for being associated with their favorite team.  The growing interest from advertisers and publishers reinforces the fact that pre-roll OLV ads work with a wide online audience.

But the actual content of the ad needs to not only be relevant, but it needs to inspire a reaction – and an action – which can be clicking through to a website, signing up for an incentive, or making a purchase on the spot. To do this, the content should be human, authentic, and meaningful to the individual.

Going back to our Yankees example, if the ad itself was tailored to the sentiment of the content, it’s likely to have a larger impact.  Imagine the connection a Gatorade ad with Aaron Judge, in front of content featuring a Judge home run inside an article about the Yankees big win on a local New York Publisher would have for the audience.

As we enter this new era of personalization, research shows that advertisers are embracing advanced creative as a major part of their omnichannel marketing strategies to remain nimble, effective, and in tune with their consumers’ behavior. This is the moment for advertisers to be bold in their choices and consider how they will personalize, deliver, and measure the performance of their campaigns.

Advertising isn’t going away. But in order to make a true impact on an individual, and to influence buying decisions, ads need to be contextually relevant and served up to the right person at the right time.

As illustrated above, OLV pre-roll ads result in stronger scale, ad reception, brand favorability, and contextual relevance. But with a seemingly endless ocean of sites, platforms, content, and audience options, the task of picking the right opportunity can be daunting. To combat these concerns, advertisers need to look for opportunities with platforms that have aggregated quality viewership, publishers, and content in one place.

Brands that target campaigns by content and subject get automatic boosts in their level of contextual relevance. The SendtoNews online video platform, for example, contains a library of over 1 million videos from premium providers like MLB, NBA, Rolling Stone, Associated Press, NFL, Bloomberg and 100 others, spanning across categories like sports, news, business, politics, entertainment, food, technology, lifestyle, and more.  This allows marketers to address audiences that have actively sought out editorial content featuring relevant video.

STN is North America’s largest independent OLV platform with over 1.5 billion impressions per month across over 1800 trusted and local publishers like the New York Post, Baltimore Sun, SF Gate, Miami Herald and more – and has the technology, experience, insights, and partnerships to enable advertisers to reach their target audience with the right message at the right time.

About the author

Matthew Watson is the CEO of SendtoNews, North America’s largest independent OLV platform providing brands and agencies the opportunity to advertise on over 1.5 billion monthly impressions against brand-safe, contextually relevant video from over 100 leading content providers like MLB, NBA, NFL, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Rolling Stone, and Condé Nast on premium local and national sites like NY Post, NY Daily News, SFGate, USAToday, and over 1,800 others. Along with being a leading voice in the digital video industry, Matthew is an avid sports fan, mountain biker, husband, and father of two.

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