Martin Galvin, director of agency sales, Specific Media
As online video cements its place in the hearts and minds of both consumers and advertisers, its relationship with, and to, television is coming under increased scrutiny. Moving images have been part of advertising in the UK since ITV launched in the 1950s, meaning that the whole way it works – from who controls the purse strings to the way success is measured – has been dictated by television. However, the rapid advance of online viewing has fundamentally changed the game, and posed questions about how things need to adapt to fully benefit from video ads.
Historically, the role of TV-based ‘brand’ advertising was about doing an awareness job. It was integral to the classic AIDA model – Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. Now, what we have come to refer to as ‘online video’ lets us knock out the entire model in a single hit.
Essentially, the input part of advertising (raising awareness) has merged with the output part (consumer engagement/buying stuff), which has created challenges with regards to measuring the effectiveness of video advertising. Even defining what success will look like at the outset of the campaign is confusing. Rarely has this division been better expressed than in the traditional set-up of the typical media agency investment unit. Why is this?
Traditionally, investment teams have been split by discipline – TV, press, radio, etc – and when ad spend on websites started to take-off, an online team. Clearly both TV and online advertising can perform both a branding and direct response role, however it’s fair to say that the bulk of ad spend on the former has been, and still remains, brand-based, while the latter has traditionally been the home of direct response and that’s before you even consider search (although interestingly brand spend online is now growing at a faster rate than direct response on the same).
This has led to different metrics being deemed as a barometer for success – effective cover build leading to positive shifts in brand favourability on TV, for example, versus the cheapest cost per acquisition or the dreaded click through rate (CTR) delivered online. One is about perceived effective ‘input’, the other about perceived effective ‘output’ and we analyse both to the Nth degree in order to prove success and justify our work.
Now a £100m plus market in the UK alone, the growth of online video advertising has smashed these two worlds together. Picture the mayhem that has ensued as two groups with very different worldviews started jostling for the same pool of budget.
At its worst, this has led to a very confused approach to advertising. This is because online video is the new shiny thing that everyone is trying to fully understand after having already spent good money on it, and secondly because the online video specialist is still relatively rare. Where specialists do exist, they don’t have a consistent set of metrics by which they can measure the success of a campaign. This is because in some agencies they sit within the TV team and in others, the online team, and generally they speak a different language.
Indeed, in some agencies different parts of the same campaign are bought by two different people in two different units, which made sense when one dealt with TV ads and the other with press insertion. However, it makes less sense to maintain these historical barriers when both are activating the same copy, strategy, brand narrative, etc, as part of the same campaign.
When activating video advertising for our clients, the industry needs a very clear understanding at the outset of what the campaign objectives are so we can maximise the effectiveness of the activity. Because it’s internet-activated advertising, we can be extremely granular with regard to measurement. However, as Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted, counts.” When it comes to video ads, if it can be counted, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it can be counted alongside other things. This can, for example, causes confusion and leads us to receive campaign objectives defined as: “We want to drive view through rates and click through rates.”
In other words, we want to maximise awareness through increased view through rates, while at the same time ensuring that consumers are engaging (we think?) with our adverts by clicking on the thing. This is clearly madness as the two are diametrically opposed - on one hand they want people to watch the ad until the end as they’ve spent loads of money on it, but at the same time they want people to click on the ad, thereby driving the same people away from the ad so they are not watching the ad at all. This is very obviously a function of two historically different specialisms trying to get to grips with the same thing.
Online ads are fundamentally different to those on TV – as obvious as that sounds it’s easily forgotten when 98% of the time you’re activating the same copy. It’s led to confusion about what to measure, often meaning that the purpose of an ad is to secure both clicks and views, which is madness – or at least it is as part of the same booking. It is vital that brands, buyers and networks understand from the outset what they want out of an ad and clearly define it, from the creative to the placement and everything else in between. If we don’t we run the risk of failing to learn from everything that we do, and that would seem like a terrible waste of opportunity.