Phil Townend
Dec 9, 2016

Life beyond the view?

Only by focusing on outputs can brands get real value from their data, says Unruly's Phil Townend.

Phil Townend
Phil Townend

The global online video market is expected to reach US$35 billion by 2018, and according to eMarketer will double in the US between US$10 billion in 2016 and US$20 billion in 2020. Digital ad spend in APAC is also set to increase by 63 percent between 2016 and 2018, according to eMarketer. Outlays will increase fivefold in Indonesia by 2019, and will more than double in the rest of Southeast Asia. The mobile ad market in APAC is expected to reach US$88.46 billion by 2020.

The explosion of branded video content and native marketing in all its various forms defines a new chapter in the story of advertising. As the platforms and tech become increasingly sophisticated, we have access to more data than ever before, but we need to be planning and managing our media in new ways.

This wealth of data allows us to make decisions about content type, distribution channel and post-viewing action, yet even in the most sophisticated ad markets we are still relying on blunt metrics to judge campaign success—views, reach, impressions. These metrics served us well in the days of traditional media or web 1.0, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. In a digital environment we have the ability to measure everything!

If digital video content is to reach its full potential in terms of share of budget, we need to be able to prove to stakeholders just how effective these new channels are—to demonstrate the commercial impact of content.

Clever marketers are now starting to understand video for what it really is: an opportunity to create a deep emotional connection using moving pictures to get consumers to then do something you want them to. The question we should be asking before even deciding on the creative idea should be: What is the role of this video?

All too often, advertisers are asking the wrong questions; How many views did we get? Did we beat the last video? Does our video have more views than competitor X? Did we get it cheaper than last time?

Rather than focussing on the inputs, we should be asking questions based on outputs. How long did the user spend with our brand? What was the cost of getting an average user to the point in the video at which our brand is revealed? What is our cost-per-second spent with brand? What impact did this time spent with brand have on metrics like favourability? Do we have more leads? Are we selling more products? Have we a model to connect these content initiatives to commerce? 

The metrics we use need to be those that demonstrate ROI and impact top line growth and profitability—this is what really matters to shareholders.

The view is not the end, but the means to an end. It’s not the million views that drive top line sales but what those consumers do after they watch the video. We have the opportunity for the first time to think beyond vanity metrics like views and judge campaign success by more meaningful metrics, ones that have a direct commercial impact.

As advertisers increasingly understand the importance of measuring the effectiveness of their content, pre-distribution and post-view studies are a great place to start.

Measuring the emotional intensity of a campaign can be a good indicator of success. Various studies, such as those by Binet and Field and Nielsen Consumer Science, confirm that a strong emotional response to content drives memorability, engagement and commercial benefits: purchase intent and sales, earned media and advocacy.

With mobile data connections becoming more accessible across Asia, consumers truly are always on and they have almost infinite choice. The “give me what I want, when I want it” mindset represents an opportunity for advertisers. We now have the means to build functionality right into the campaign that allows us to measure performance and ascertain purchase intent in real time.

Technologies such as Indonesian-founded Wootag now allow us to seamlessly enable video ad units with beyond-the-view actions like data capture—watch an ad, order a sample now—which can integrate directly with an advertisers’ CRM. Imagine a campaign where instead of asking how many views we got or what our cost per reach is, we can assess creative performance, distribution platforms and partners based on a conversion from a video view to a sample order. 

The possibilities that this sort of technology provides for brands are endless. Luxury brands can work with department store partners to drive mobile video viewers into their nearest outlet with a unique discount code, allowing them to not only measure campaign performance in real terms, but also to attribute the viewer action to the video platform that drove that particular view. Auto brands can embed image galleries into their video ads, or allow users to book a test drive; tech brands can allow users to pre-order the latest sexy gadget; banks can allow potential customers to request a call back by entering their phone number.

These are exciting times for digital content and video marketing, with true accountability becoming a reality. Reach and engagement needn’t be mutually exclusive, but if we continue to focus solely on the inputs rather than the outputs, we miss the opportunities to really interact with our consumers and drive commercial impact with our content.

In 2016 we learned just how misleading views can be; all are not created equal and many are overstated. Will 2017 finally be the year that we start taking advantage of the developments in consumer technology, sophistication and ad tech to measure video and content marketing in ways that matter to shareholders? Will we finally learn to look at life beyond the view?

Phil Townend is chief commercial officer of Unruly Asia Pacific

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