With audience buying and cross-screen TV executions ready to play a much larger role in this year's TV upfront market narrative, advancing the advertising experience is a crucial topic for both buyers and sellers of premium video.
Today the ad experience in digital video is far from perfect. Whether it is too many or poor quality ads, viewers of video content are often left frustrated, rather than forming the positive associations that marketers and publishers set out to achieve.
A broad spectrum of reasons is behind this challenge, and the variables to manage are numerous. Each stakeholder in the advertising value chain needs to do their part in delivering a better experience for the consumer. And it is to everyone's benefit, from the advertiser through to their intended audience.
Through a custom study with the ad research company, Advertiser Perceptions, the FreeWheel Council for Premium Video surveyed and interviewed 250 brand and agency executives on what makes or breaks the video ad experience.
In the survey, 52% of respondents identified improving the ad experience as the biggest challenge that the video industry faces today (even greater than the well-documented measurement challenge). Additionally, 59% said that improving consumers' video ad experience is "very important" in helping to achieve campaign goals and more than 1 in 3 said that it has a direct impact on advertiser ROI.
A lack of creative diversity was cited the most influential reason for a poor advertising experience, highlighting the challenge of exposure frequency. Other factors significantly impacting ad experiences identified were heavy ad tags creating latency, disconnects between creative and media executions and a lack of screen-specific executions.
Some other key findings in the study:
- 46% of respondents cited a lack of creative diversity as one of the leading reasons for a poor ad experience.
- More than 2 in 3 believe the agency creative department is primarily responsible for improving the ad experience.
- Typically 3.3 ads per screen are produced per campaign today, but those surveyed believe that an average of 4.7 ads should be created.
- 61% of agencies and brands have repurposed TV ads for digital campaigns in the last 12 months.
- 55% see programmatic buying as a useful tool to deliver better ad experiences, but there are risks involved.
Managing the exposure to a brand's messaging across various sources of video supply is not easy, whether managing frequency across media channels, or accounting for the different environments available. Quality, transparency and fit of that environment therefore is key, and as Ron Amram, manager, global marketing-media at Heineken International, noted: "Context plays an important role in whether the ad is going to work, and whether the experience works for the consumer. So, we have to be more selective in terms of where we place our advertising, and not just go for the lowest CPM and just programmatically buy the person irrespective of what they're consuming. That's where we could be more effective."
There were some clear takeaways from this robust study:
- Ad experience is seen as the biggest challenge facing the video industry today, and work needs to be done to curb ad blocking and drive ROI for marketers.
- Brand marketers need to consider creative diversity and allocate appropriate budgets to enable cross-screen executions.
- Creative and media teams within agencies need to be part of a holistic planning process to deploy messaging against specific screens and media channels to drive ROI and preserve the experience.
- Publishers need to continue to take advantage of the tools that technology provides to ensure a premium ad experience.
- Buy and sell-side need to agree what the appropriate amount of exposure is per campaign and start with the appropriate "ingredients" (creatives, targeting, frequency management) to execute.
Solving this challenge will require collaboration across the demand and supply chains and everyone will need to do their part to steward the elements they can control. As Anna Papadopoulos, VP-integrated media services, Prudential, noted: "I think the responsibility is shared. Publishers and the technology platform help control the end consumer experience. The piece that we need to take on as brands and as agencies is the quality we end up serving to that person."
Delivering an optimal ad experience in video is a complicated equation but an increasingly important one to solve for as audiences fragment across different screens. Expectations of the value exchange between content provider and viewer are shifting, and as an industry, we need to adapt. If we do solve it together, all stakeholders will benefit from the advertiser's return on investment from the consumer's increased engagement.