HoodieBuddie logo“Want TV-style engagement with your ads on the Web? Go with online video!” That’s been the rallying cry of a majority of online video ad networks. But it’s been difficult to prove that those “engaging” ads were actually effective at lifting key brand metrics like purchase intent on their own.

A new case study from a trio of online video providers gets beyond the ethereal “engagement” metric to show that online video ads are highly effective brand-building tools – even without the help of campaigns on other platforms.

The Jerry Leigh Company retails a number of apparel brands, including licensed products from Disney and Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers. The company wanted to launch its HoodieBuddie brand (a hooded sweatshirt with built-in headphones), using a combination of online video ad networks – and nothing else.

The HoodieBuddie campaign included 15- and 30-second spots that ran across Yume, ScanScout and BBE, three video ad networks that offer similar ad units and tracking methodologies. The ad networks partnered with Vizu, a company that specializes in measuring the branding effectiveness of online ads, to come up with the research.

The campaign ran for four weeks, reaching at least six million unique viewers (roughly two million per network).  Vizu’s measurement methodology includes surveys of control and test subjects over the course of the entire campaign; sample size for the surveys topped 8,000. The study yielded promising results in terms of online video’s effectiveness: 

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  • Purchase intent among exposed survey respondents was at 19.7% – a nearly 76% lift vs. non-exposed participants
  • Awareness among exposed survey respondents reached 18.4% – a lift of nearly 205% vs. non-exposed participants

  • The lifts in both metrics translated into a 62% increase in daily sales
  • The 15-second spot was more effective at increasing awareness, while
    the 30-second spot was better at driving purchase intent

Analysis of the case study led to three conclusions:

•    Online video ads are effective tools for brand-building – and not just for brands that have already established a presence via other media like TV, print or display.

The fact that Jerry Leigh excluded other forms of on- and offline paid media supports the overall hypothesis.

•    While many online video ad companies hype their ad units as “specialized,” eliminating that hyperbole is key to figuring out crucial insights.

“We all have 15- and 30-second units, but we also offer customized ad units, and there are slightly different formats when it comes to the interactive capabilities,” said Yume CRO Scot McLernon. Still, McLernon said execs from the three networks agreed if they could provide metrics that could be “evenly measured across all of [their] networks,” it would be “far more attractive” to brands like HoodieBuddie, among others.

•    Engagement may not be the best metric for measuring online video ad effectiveness – particularly when it equates to just time spent.

Perhaps a shift in thinking (some would say a step backward) to time-tested brand metrics like purchase intent, awareness, and favorability is what’s in order for online video technology companies to attract those bigger, “brand-sized” ad budgets they covet.