Good magicians depend on a few essential pieces of kit to successfully execute their craft: a wand, a rabbit, a top hat and an audience to wow. Similarly, when it comes to video, marketers need a screen, creative, eyeballs and accurate measurement to track performance.
Since the debut of the television, the medium of video has cast a spell that works wonders for marketing. Today, it remains the content format du jour for advertisers and marketers of all shades, and encompasses TV ads, VoD, OOH display, and numerous forms of online content. It spans multiple marketing disciplines and environments, and expertise is claimed by everyone from creative agencies to analytics firms.
While the format seemingly finds its way into every area of marketing, we still don't necessarily have clear definitions of what video marketing encompasses and who should 'own' video - or if we even need this clarity.
One thing is sure though: Brands are eating up all forms of video. This is hardly surprising, given the vast proportion of internet traffic that it accounts for. Last year, Cisco predicted that video would represent 82% of all internet traffic by 2020.
Whether it's pre-roll, in-stream, auto-play, skippable, viewable or cost per completed view, an ad that moves seems to be more desired - and has more cut-through - than a static ad. A third of today's UK and US digital video viewers already watch more than 4 hours of digital video every week. But the consumption route is changing, as more consumers become 'mobile-first'.
At this year's Ad Week Europe conference, I'm particularly looking forward to seeing how video fits into the mobile strategies discussed. Will all of the brands be using mobile video, and - more importantly - should they? Which video marketing strategies will be mobile-first? And what changes and innovations can we expect in this space in terms of creative, delivery, and measurement?
While the pace of change accelerates, the most prominent challenge will continue to be the rapid shift of video consumption to mobile. Despite this clear trend, many marketers are still repurposing landscape, TV-style content for mobile ads. Rather than creating mobile-first content, they're simply recycling existing video or trying to squeeze TV and web content into a mobile environment.
As an industry, we need to re-think mobile creative. It must be short, punchy, and engaging. The brand needs to appear as soon as possible in the video, particularly for skippable ads, in order to register a brand impression. In broad terms, we need to change the mindset from that of creating video for the 'digital world' in general, and think specifically of creating video content for mobile consumers.
Discussion of impressions also reminds us that digital marketing campaigns live and die by targeting and measurement, and video is no exception. Digital videos are a form of performance marketing, and their success is judged in a binary, quantifiable way. Was the ad seen? How long for? Was it the right kind of viewer? Was there a click-through? How many shares? These are the metrics that dominate the plans and reports of digital marketers.
But one trend I'm seeing emerge is the growth of digital campaigns as branding exercises. Rather than a hyper-targeted approach, some brands are beginning to see their digital campaigns as 'brand broadcasts'. In line with this, just a few months ago Procter & Gamble's chief brand officer, Mark Pritchard, announced that the company was diverting spend away from much of its targeted digital marketing, and turning back towards broad reach.
No other media is measured in the same way as digital campaigns. Print ads and billboards may well lead to sales, but these can't be quantified. Having stuck rigorously to the idea of hyper-targeting and inflexible metrics, it seems that digital marketers may now be more willing to accept that certain ads are 'brand ads' rather than simply a hard driver of sales leads.
The best magicians stay ahead of their peers, always coming up with new ways to amaze. Similarly, marketers must constantly find ways to keep their audiences impressed. Newer ideas, like short-form and interactive, encouraged marketers to be better storytellers, and they continue to do so. Meanwhile, advanced measurement tools help marketers better track performance and success, however the brand defines it.
Video is always evolving, and the best 'video magicians' don't just have the best wand or the smartest top hat. They have the right knowledge and a finger on the pulse of a format that's continuously evolving. Enjoy your Ad Week!