United States: The Untold Value Of Video Advertising

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but what about video? Whoever is behind the famous aphorism never crunched the numbers on video, but you'd have to think that the words-to-video conversion rate would be very large. After all, video advertisements are known to have tremendous advantages, even over those that use pictures. Video ads are more likely to be discovered (search engines love video content), shared (consumers share video at high rates), and acted upon (according to Amazon and eBay, video ads accompanying product descriptions increases the chance of a purchase by as much as 35%) than other formats. All of which helps explain why people are watching so much video these days.

According to data gathered by Tubular Insights, the average Internet user is watching 16 minutes of online video ads each month, and U.S. digital ad spending is set to skyrocket from $6.84 billion in 2015 to $28.08 billion in 2020. That's a massive increase, and it will certainly focus more and more attention on digital video practices in the years ahead.

The Way I See It

  • Video has advantages over other formats that make it a natural choice for advertisers. Using video, brands can tell stories about their products and services that are both more informative and more emotionally powerful than text- or image-based advertising. As of yet, there is just no equal to the amount of sensory engagement that video that provides.
  • The growth in video advertising is being powered by multiple trends. One of those trends is the growing number of "cord cutters," who have abandoned traditional cable television plans and are now consuming video content exclusively online. This phenomenon is only increasing the importance of video advertising.
  • The move to mobile is not putting any damper on video advertising. At some point in the past, conventional wisdom may have suggested that consumers would be more likely to watch video on desktop screens than mobile devices, but research is proving that intuition false. Viewers seem quite happy to consume video on smaller screens.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I spoke with Rob Cohen, a highly regarded video producer and editor, to learn more about video advertising.

Are you seeing an increase in the number of brands that are seeking to produce "branded content" — programming that is entertaining in its own right, and happens to feature their brand—as opposed to more traditional advertising?

Branded web-content is THE growth area for production.  This is where advertising-storytelling gets to spread its wings . . . for several reasons.  First, you're not working in the thirty-second frame.  The genius of TV advertising is how powerful you can be in thirty seconds; the pain of TV advertising is how much more powerfully you could engage people if you had more time. That's what branded content on the web allows for.

Second, this is where the young people are. I don't just mean in terms of eyeballs and who is watching, but more in terms of who is creating the content.  Young directors, editors, writers, musicians, cinematographers, animators and filmmakers of all sorts know this is an exciting point of entry.  They are not all going to step into high budget TV production right out of film school, but they can find outlets to showcase their talents in this arena.  And brands are the recipients of all these fresh ideas.  And another thing:  budgets are lower, which means high gloss is often set aside for authentic inventiveness.  Viewers/consumers feel this.

What is the most important quality for a piece of video content or advertising to have?


What is the biggest change that has occurred in video advertising over the last five to ten years?

Crowd sourcing and user generated content, plus ease of entry.

Making content was the domain of the professional content makers: agencies, writers, art directors, directors, production companies.

Now, I think, content is for—and by—everyone.  Every young person I run into seems to own a Canon 70D or some DSLR that is capable of superb images.  And every young person learns Adobe Premiere editing almost at the same time that they are learning to read . . . or at least it seems that way.

Content is easier and cheaper to produce than ever before.

What is the best metric to measure the effectiveness of video advertising?

I'm not sure I know.  Internet ad buys are getting more and more scientific, I suppose, so I imagine that real numbers can be attached to this kind of advertising.  I'm not sure this is an actual metric, but the measurement that seems important is if someone passes a piece of video content along to me, or vice-versa.

When you produce a video, do you think a lot about whether the viewer will be watching it on a phone, computer, or television screen? How much does that affect your creative choices?

I do.  I love big screens, but I know that more work gets seen on small (smaller, smallest) screens.  So that has to affect the way we visualize;  more close-ups, let wide shots.  Small screens also mean earbuds or headphones of some sort, so music and sound design are a big focus of how I think.  And in terms of length, I believe the sweet spot for branded content pieces is 2-3 minutes.  And that is also a function of the fact that I know people will be watching on their phones.

What is the most interesting object in your office?

The most interesting object used to be a hand tooled, genuine cowhide leather bowling bag.  This was a one-of-a-kind collector's item that made people drool with envy.  But then it got returned to its rightful owner: Ron Urbach.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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