Why the Smartest Video Strategy Focuses on Mobile, Millennials and New Formats

Auto play, native ads and emotion are key

For today's content-obsessed consumers, it's a video driven world. That will be abundantly clear during the two-week NewFronts that begin Monday.

Kathy Kayse, Yahoo vp 

But let's be honest, it can be tough for brands to get their attention. Whether you're watching a live sporting event or catching up on news you missed, when you're face-to-face with a video ad, brands have 30 seconds or less to make that memorable connection. For advertisers, the temptation and power of video is huge. So your ad needs to be compelling, but our new research shows there's much more to it than that.

First, it's impossible to talk about video today without addressing the audience shift to mobile devices. We've all been there. You're watching a video on your smartphone, and an ad appears that just doesn't fit the screen. It's time to optimize those video ads for screen alignment. Seems simple, right? Just viewing a landscape ad horizontally or a portrait ad vertically, compared to the opposite, can have a huge impact on brand metrics like brand affinity, achieving lifts of 20 percent and 80 percent respectively. Thinking mobile pays off.

Still, some experiences are growing across mobile and desktop, like the meteoric rise of native video ads. These auto-start formats have been hotly debated. Are they entertaining and effective, or a turn off? Turns out, people are really responding to these ads. Compared to user-initiated ads, people who watched auto-start native ads were more likely to remember the brand, a 51 percent higher aided brand recall. But even more than that, brand affinity was also higher for these ads. So if you aren't testing native video, it might be time to start.

Let's talk a bit more about these formats. At the end of the day, digital video viewers have a limited attention span, and timing is everything. If you're going native, keep it short and sweet. Stick to 15-second ads for higher recall and purchase intent. As an industry we're experimenting with ad length, but 15- and 30-second pre-roll ads still perform best, with much stronger results than super-short five second ads.

But, if you're looking to reach millennials, be prepared to step up your video game. They're open to ads, but emotion plays a big part, whether it's that warm and fuzzy feeling or a little shock value. Going for a comedic angle? Ads that brought the humor drove a 50 percent lift in brand familiarity with millennials, compared to viewers overall. But don't forget this audience is also hungry for information, and ads that successfully deliver on that promise drove a whopping 31 percent lift in purchase intent comparatively. To make your ads as effective as possible, make sure to deliver on emotion.

No matter the screen, we all want quality content and a fantastic viewing experience. The opportunity has never been bigger for content creators and brands to make memorable connections with video viewers and leave a lasting impression.

Kathy Kayse (@KKayse) is vp, sales strategy and solutions at Yahoo. Yahoo's DCNF presentation will be held Wednesday, May 4 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.