Two diverging media phenomenons are impacting how marketers are advertising online: Branded video content growth and the demise of interruptive media tactics. As we have discussed in length on this blog before, ‘native advertising’ has emerged as a solution to the convergence between quality brand video content, and the changing media ad consumption habits of consumers.
Now, we have some pretty compelling research to back up that claim.
Over the past few months, our research team partnered with the Forbes Insights team to survey 136 marketing executives from leading brands such as Intel, JetBlue, Heineken, Honda, & K-Swiss to assess the market’s appetite for native advertising and branded video content. It turns out that branded content and native advertising have a ton of supporters.
Here are a few of them:
“Consumption has changed, and advertisers will have to continue to follow [consumers]. Quality has become more important now.” — Ron Amram, Senior Media Director, Heineken USA
“If you do something that’s exciting and relevant, you can far expand your media spend in terms of its impact.” —Matt Jarvis, Partner and Chief Strategy Officer, 72andSunny
“We’ve gone beyond the thought of interactive digital into creating our own digital content wholesale.” — Marty St. George, SVP, Marketing and Commercial Strategy, JetBlue
In addition, many of the largest online platforms have been first on board to adopt native advertising (including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, StumbleUpon and WordPress). So while the term ‘native’ ads is still growing among marketing executives, a majority of them value the attributes of ‘native’ video:
With 32% of CMOs saying they have bought or are planning to buy native video advertising in the next 6 months, we invite you to download the full report here.
There is no more overused word than “premium” when it comes to online advertising. It’s universally desirable, even though its exact definition continues to change with the evolution of the web.
This week OMMA dug into the definition of premium as it relates to display advertising in a recent article called “What is Premium Now?” In a fitting kickoff for the native advertising round-up, OMMA’s Laurie Sullivan noted confidently in the piece “Native targeted display ads provide the best results.” We agree.
Laurie’s article obviously opens the door for future conversations about what is ‘premium’ among the native ad market, but we’ll stop short of getting into that just yet. For now, we are working with the broad world of native ad platforms to flesh out the native ad framework and further define open versus closed native ads. Lets figure out just exactly who the players are before we decide on the all stars.
As some of the articles below highlight, the race to premium native is very much on. From Twitter’s enhanced targeting capabilities to Foursquare’s massive redesign, major social platforms are investing heavily in improving their user experience and enhancing their native ad offerings.
The native ad space is moving fast, so read up below to get caught up on the week in native ad news:
OMMA – What is Premium Now – This article tries to tackle everything in one swoop. It discusses where the display ad market current stands, where it seems to be going, and how that ties in with the growing mobile and native strategies. The general goal of the article is to figure out what constitutes a “premium” display advertisement. Given the incredible statistic that the display ad market in the United States will reach $15.4 billion this year, up from $12.4 billion in 2011, it is no surprise that there is still substantial focus on display as a viable advertising option. However, with Microsoft recently writing off billions of dollars in losses stemming from display advertisements, it may be a strategy worth discussing. For those (like us) who are proponents of native, the author points out is that many of these display ads are rolling in native elements. Unfortunately, only partially interrupting users is not the answer. While I applaud the reporter for trying to come up with an interesting hybrid model that ties in mobile, native and display, the growing social landscape is showing that true native content is the most effective model.
Twitter Advertising Blog – New targeting adds greater relevance to your Promoted Tweets– Rumored for the past two weeks, Twitter is now rolling out targeted Promoted Tweets. Similar to what Facebook is trying to do with their Sponsored Stories, Twitter is trying to figure out a way to use their massive collection of data to push out information to specific DMAs or demographics without blasting the entire Twitisphere. For Twitter, they are itching to figure out ways to raise their ad numbers. According to a study released by TBG Digital, Facebook’s mobile ad click-through rate is 1.1%, while Twitter’s sits at .266%.
Venture Beat –Foursquare paves way for ad products with release of Local Updates– Foursquare needed to figure out a way to make some money, so it is no surprise that they went back to the drawing board and completely redesigned their entire user interface and experience. For those of you who use Foursquare, you probably notice that the redesign is both visually appealing and more interactive. By allowing users to interact with each other, it creates an experience that feels similar to Facebook or Twitter. Not only can users interact with each other now, but businesses can now weave themselves into the stream of discussion. Their ad unit, Local Updates, will be contextual. Users will only receive updates on those businesses that they have shown interest in based on past check-ins. While Foursquare advertising may appeal mostly to local businesses, large brands need to consider creative ways to reach Foursquare’s nearly 20 million users.
FMP Signal (Blog) – The Rise of Native Advertising – Federated Media’s recent Conversational Marketing Summit featured this presentation by Stumble Upon’s Jack Krawczyk. One interesting topic he touches on is the cycle of content discovery and how native fits in that model. The general thinking breaks down like this: Discover –> Share –> Amplify (Repeat). Think about it, our main goal of using content aggregators, social sites, and other online mediums is to discover content. If we find awesome content (hopefully branded content), we share it. Following those shares, native ad units work to amplify and reinforce the importance of the content that is being shared. This process should not work in a Facebook or Twitter silo. Each of the social sites interacts with its users in different ways, so brands need to think about the complimentary process that buying across multiple platforms offers them.
Digiday – Brands Try out SocialCam – Despite a controversial $60M acquisition by Autodesk earlier this week, brands are beginning to check out what SocialCam has to offer. While SocialCam has not jumped into the “Promoted” and “Sponsored” monetization game with their fellow social sites, they are garnering significant organic interest from the likes of Brisk Iced Tea and The Washington Post. In fact, WaPo just formed a partnership with SocialCam to allow a select group of London Olympic reporter to use SocialCam as their online video recorder. This is a great first step for an app that has seen massive adoption in such a short amount of time.
Hope you enjoyed this installment. As always, make sure to check in again next week.
There’s perhaps nothing more effective than beautiful imagery in selling people on places to visit. Until recently, glossy spreads in luxury magazines had been the ultimate expression of this tactic, while web video lagged far behind due to its’ limitations in picture quality. For example, here’s a piece of video marketing for the Philipines tourism department from 2008. It’s helpful, but certainly not very compelling:
Just to help make sure we don’t get cultural tunnel vision by focusing too much on American branded video campaigns or American audiences, we like to make a point to talk about some of the best social video successes internationally. As usual, January 2012 was a month that saw international brands grabbing tons of attention and buzz from social video.
Palencia33 is a YouTube channel/brand that has had several successful videos, many in the realm of “explainer videos.” And they also serve as a great example to remind us of the power of international audiences: the English language version of Palencia33′s SOPA video has over 300,000 views… but the Spanish-language version went mega viral, grabbing over 6 million views:
Finnair has a viral hit on their hands with a mid-air dancing flash-mob to celebrate India’s Republic Day (the flight was headed to Delhi):
While the government takedown of Megaupload and the ensuring controversy has made plenty of headlines in the U.S., it’s the international audiences (and Megaupload’s international fans and users) that drove their mid-December music video to over 13 million views:
Coke is one of the savviest American brands in terms of tailoring their online video for multiple audiences. In early January they put out this ad, which is also doubling as the official anthem for the national team of Tunisia:
Every country and every culture in the world is unique. As the global community continues to break down borders, successful brands will begin to tailor their social video campaigns more and more specifically for all possible audiences.
Growing up, I was a creative kid with an extremely vivid imagination. I went through phases where I wanted to be an architect, then a fashion designer, then an illustrator. I would draw elaborate houses with 5 garages and three indoor pools. I’d sketch out fashion models wearing crazy outfits involving dresses made out of peacock feathers , candy, and balloons. I had a few sketchbooks of comics that I had created- illustrated characters with plot lines that reflected the everyday suburban life that surrounded me. Then I discovered advertising.
My mom had a collection of Metropolitan Home Magazine stacked in the basement, and while she was doing laundry, I’d sit nearby and flip through them. Instead of reading the content, I went straight for the ads. Before long, I was on the obsessive hunt to find and collect every Absolut Vodka print ad I could get my hands on. They fascinated me, and at the time (I was about 10), I didn’t know why. I just knew they triggered something that caught my creative attention.
After collecting hundreds of Absolut ads, and eventually Got Milk ads, my dream was to one day create creative pieces of [advertising] content of my own. I began to think in terms of concepts- “If I were to create an Absolut campaign, what would it be?” Countless more sketch books got filled up with ideas, drawings, ad ideas. At the age of 12, when someone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told them “I want to make Absolut Vodka ads.” I didn’t know the correct term for that was “art director.” I immersed myself in countless art classes in high school, and eventually studied graphic design.
It was in college where I learned that design is about problem solving- it is the technical execution of a creative idea. The first job I had after college was as a junior “designer” in an advertising agency. I wanted to be the one coming up with the big “absolut-vodka-esque” campaign ideas, however my role was to be the one executing them.
I had trouble understanding what the differences were between art direction and design. Eventually I understood that art directors are supposed to provide the concept and designers are supposed implement the concept. But it’s never that black and white. In my experience, the process is much more collaborative. The ideas inform the concept and vice versa.
After having professional experiences as both a designer and an art director, it is interesting to point out their respective trends in pieces of branded entertainment. The following videos are ones I admire and appreciate. They do a fantastic job at combining the magic that is design and art direction:
The visual juxtapositions are what drew me into this video. The contrast of old and new, depicted by the older photographs against a present-day background, ties the concept of this video together.
The organic looking graphic overlays are beautiful here. They help give the video more of a hand-made look and feel, driving home the goal of the video itself: to show how Persol glasses are handmade. Effects like this add another layer of detail and beauty to the overall video piece, making it even more interesting to watch.
I have always been a fan of kinetic typography. When done well, it is an effective (and creative) tool to communicate a message. If timed correctly it also proves effective in keeping ones attention. The video is still entertaining and engaging if you choose to watch without sound.
I love how this concept meets the execution half way in this piece for Nokia. The video demonstrates a new smartphone’s imaging capabilities through this magical, microscopic animation. (Fun fact: this ad holds a Guinness World Record as the smallest stop-motion animated film, pretty cool huh?)
This uplifting video communicates that everything is better in color- the combination of concept, stop motion animation, and music choice tie the whole piece together. Makes me want to go paint something.
There was a time when Google did very little marketing for its products. Those days have changed. Interestingly, Facebook is currently replicating Google’s earlier marketing style with content that is largely educational and very little media buying. With a flurry of new videos recently released by both companies, we thought it would be interesting to compare the online video marketing styles of two of Silicon Valley’s giants – Facebook and its newest serious challenger, Google Plus.
Google Plus has begun a pretty intensive video ad campaign lately, including television and online video as outlets. The first of the new wave of ads touted the new Pages system for businesses:
The next ad highlighted the benefits of searching on Google Plus:
Then the big guns came out, as Google rolled its next ad–”Sharing, but like real life”–on television:
Finally, the latest Google Plus video gathering buzz shows the flexibility of the Circles system by showing how one guy’s status changes over time for the girl he’s sweet on:
Now, let’s compare those ads, which all have a similar look and feel, to the kind of video ads Facebook leans on. First off, it’s important to note that Facebook actually doesn’t have many videos on their YouTube channel–just 51 as of this writing.
The most recent Facebook video, from one week ago, is about using Questions:
Notice the low view count. This video is much more instructional than it is marketing oriented–there’s not even any music or production value.
Their next most recent video is from a month ago. Again, it’s designed to show you how to use a Facebook feature (Messenger for Mobile). However, the production value is much higher with a soundtrack and much more polished voiceover:
Go back a few more weeks and you have the F8 Keynote Introduction, which has half a million views. It’s popularity is mostly due to the fact that SNL’s Andy Sandberg opened the show with his impression of Mark Zuckerberg:
There are clearly two very different approaches at work here. For the most part, Facebook isn’t using video to sell itself to new users. Indeed, at 800 million and climbing, you could make the argument that the service sell itself at this point. Instead, they have focused their efforts more on educational videos for their existing users–an equally valid use of online video even if it’s less likely to “go viral.”
Google Plus, on the other hand, is still in full-on growth mode. Awareness and growing the user base is paramount right now. So while their latest videos showcase features (like Facebook does), they’re pushing much harder to create an appealing brand for the service and to attract new users.
It will be interesting to see where the two companies go from here – Facebook has done very little to market itself in traditional ways, but that also was Google’s story at one time. One thing is for certain, the competition will only get more intense.
Every so often, someone floats the notion that brands need to abandon the traditional product demonstration video in favor of a flashy viral offering. And while social video efforts do require outside-the-box thinking and non-traditional ideas, the demonstration video is far from dead.
In fact, when the brand and concept and execution line up properly, a good demonstration video can go viral all on its own.
Just ask Blendtec, whose Will It Blend series wrote the book on entertaining demonstration videos, and has been producing viral hits for three years. Here’s a look at their most recent Will It Blend video where they attempt to blend… super glue:
A lot of car manufacturers are dabbling in creative online video content, original series, and other inventive marketing concepts. But sometimes a car’s feature or selling point is compelling enough in its own right that social action can happen without gimmicks.
Like the new feature from Ford, designed to stop door dings. It’s simple, yet effective, and solves a problem that pesters nearly all drivers in the world. So all that’s required to wow the viewer enough to encourage sharing is a simple demonstration:
Another recent “demonstration” video comes courtesy of Amazon, and their newly announced Fire tablet device. The video is part marketing promo, part simple demonstration of the interface and features. Again, the product itself, and its abilities, are the trigger for social activity… not a gimmick or special video technique. Check it out:
Scripted videos, web series, and artistic social videos are on the rise… as they should be. But brands would be wise to not abandon the traditional styles that are still proving effective at generating buzz and spreading a brand’s message.
Every so often, a brand trying to push the envelope in order to grab fans’ attention goes a bit too far, resulting in a particular video ad being banned. But even in those circumstances, the brand can still gain plenty of exposure as the ban itself becomes a news story, driving further interest in the original video.
Hyundai recently saw one of their ads banned in the Netherlands, likely for its loose treatment of the serious subject of car accidents:
Citizens Against Government Waste produced an ad recently about U.S. government spending, but the spot has been deemed too controversial for network TV. Not to worry… the group uploaded the ad to YouTube as a “banned commercial” and grabbed viewers and attention anyway:
Some of the most famous banned ads in the online video age came from the “Tidy Up” series of spots from IKEA:
Unofficial “ads” like this Skittles juggernaut go viral all the time, even when the creators have no permission or affiliation with the brand. A recent duct tape ad spec (essentially a pitch for an official ad), has generated enormous attention recently
In another example of a spec going viral, Alchemy Creative scored a hit with a documentary about a car enthusiast that captures the rustic beauty of America (and Dodge drivers).
In the old days, brands were taught to be much more protective of their logos, imagery, and copyright. In today’s online video world, however, big companies are learning there can be silver linings of viral success, even when an ad is banned or not even officially accepted.