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Getting Personal With Web Video Campaigns

Interactive, Tailored Video Is Key

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As the online video industry evolves, advertisers are constantly evaluating the most effective methods to successfully reach their desired audience and increase the breadth of their brand engagement. Yet despite their best efforts to innovate, agencies still defer to producing the same static, linear video creative that results in a very passive online experience for the consumer.

It's time for online brands, publishers and their agencies to abandon the outdated TV model of blasting out mass video messaging and deliver a more personalized online experience to their customers.

The industry needs a new approach to creative—one that provides agencies different options for narrative structures based on consumer feedback. The tools and technology exist, and the bandwidth is available, so agency creative executives need to take the leap of faith and start building ads that are more authentic, engaging and personalized for the individual consumer.

By re-evaluating the basic concept of content creation, agencies will benefit from more effective targeting capabilities that will translate to better conversion rates and increased return on investment from their campaigns.

Agencies use current targeting capabilities–such as geographical and behavioral methods–to deliver ads with more relevance, but they are still serving a linear ad to a mass audience with a one-size-fits-all approach.

But what if it were possible to involve the consumer in the creation of the ad? Make the online experience more dynamic and interactive. Give consumers control over the content they consume by asking for feedback about what content they want to watch or types of offers they want to receive. That brings targeting down to an individual level.

Some brands have already started to experiment with various forms of interactivity. Samsung's "Follow Your Instinct" campaign this past summer used the annotation feature on YouTube led consumers to choose from different content segments to watch throughout the ad. According to a recent survey, we may see more campaigns like this in the future. The PermissionTV 2008 Digital Marketing Survey, announced in December, found that nearly 60 percent of respondents consider interactive video experiences to be the next evolution for online video.

The future of online video ad creation lies in the ability to create thousands of different ad variations that can be assembled in real-time based on the expressed interests of each consumer. These personalized video campaigns can already be done today by segmenting and tagging video content during the initial campaign planning stages, and then assembling and delivering the ad to each consumer based on their preferences and user profile data.

The production process of a typical personalized video campaign consists of three basic steps:

Campaign Development: During the campaign planning stage, video clips are segmented, tagged and categorized based on the goals of the ad campaign.

Ad Creation: The video segments are assembled using a storyboard technology platform that creates thousands of different ad variations, which are personalized based on viewer interaction and user profile data. The platform enables contextually targeted ads based on a number of different profile variables, including geographic location, date/time, language or viewer input about what they want to watch.

Real-time Delivery: The technology instantly delivers a video ad that directly reflects the user's interests and behavior. Consumer reactions are measured for the advertiser and used to optimize future content.

Agencies that can leverage existing video assets or create new content to produce customized video experiences that better engage and relate to the individual viewer, will deliver much better conversion rates for the brand. Since consumers are engaging with content that is highly relevant at a time when they are involved in the buying process, personalized video campaigns can typically deliver double the conversion rates and 50 percent better brand awareness than static linear campaigns, while delivering a much higher ROI.

The industry needs a reality check. The current model of trying to turn a profit by monetizing linear video just isn't working. Brands, publishers and their agencies need to embrace the power of personalization and improved targeting to build more relevant consumer experiences and improve their online video ROI.

Naj Kidwai is CEO of Real Time Content, a leading provider of personalized video ad technology based in New York City.