3 Ways to Grab Consumers’ Attention With Video Ads

In a market that’s inundated with clutter

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Too much of a good thing can be a recipe for disaster.

Take digital video ads, powerful and increasingly popular tools for brand marketers. An IAB report from April 2018 revealed that two-thirds of advertisers planned to shift their TV budgets to digital video.

So what’s the bad news? As with TV, there’s simply too much clutter. Commercial loads on full-episode players are approaching those of the networks, and digital video ads are subject to the same consumer fatigue that affects all other types of ads, creating a drag on engagement and encouraging more ad avoidance, which leads to the rise of ad blocking.

Here are three ways marketers can ensure consumers have a meaningful experience with their ads instead of tuning them out.

Reward the consumer

Rewarded video ads put consumers in the driver’s seat, giving them the option of being served an ad at the beginning of a program in exchange for points, virtual goods or uninterrupted access to content. Audiences love it, and the brand is positioned as generous and relevant. It’s a win-win.

Popularized by mobile gaming apps, this is an opt-in model that brands have fallen in love with because of its affinity among consumers, who have signaled that they would rather watch an ad upfront and be rewarded for it than have content interrupted.

Wild Turkey recently employed this approach to drive awareness among its millennial male audience. The results were a 367% lift in awareness and a 14% gain in consideration intent.

Shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to focus our attention on executing creative that will keep consumers watching?

It is a format we’ll likely be seeing more of. A Kantar Millward Brown study found that rewarded ads were viewed favorably by 68% of those surveyed, outperforming social click-to-play (52%), skippable pre-roll (51%) and skippable mobile pop-up (46%).

More marketers are finding that rewarding the consumer can be quite rewarding to them, too.

Turn up the volume

Imagine watching Jaws without the soundtrack. And raise your hand if you think A Star Is Born would have won the box office and awards glory if not for the music. That is the power of sound, and video ads without it are every bit as meaningless.

Imran Khan, Snapchat’s former chief strategy officer, put it best at the Digital Marketing Expo & Conference a couple of years ago when he equated a video ad with no sound to a “moving banner ad.”

A few years back, after finding that so many users muted video ads, some social platforms started encouraging advertisers to create ads that were easily consumed without sound. Marketers scrambled to customize their creative. Now more advertisers are turning up the volume—and with good reason. A Google analysis of 1,000-plus video ads on YouTube found that those with sound delivered around one-and-a-half times the brand awareness and ad recall of those with video alone. More significantly, ads with sound generated nearly three times the brand consideration.

Hear that? It’s the sweet sound of your ad getting results.

Get creative and get personal

Grabbing the consumer’s attention is one thing, but holding it is another.

We hear a lot about the withering consumer attention span, leading to the rise of formats like the six-second ad. The MRC standard for viewability is a mere two seconds, meaning that so many brand dollars are being spent—or rather, wasted—to capture the bare minimum of a user’s attention. Furthermore, brands have put some $120 billion in media spend under review while evaluating issues like viewability.

As the Harvard Business Review noted, 73% of consumers surveyed said they didn’t feel brand marketers engaged them in a personal way. Even more troubling, nearly half reported leaving a company’s website and taking their business elsewhere because of a poorly executed experience.

If we know keeping a target engaged leads to better results, shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to focus our attention on executing creative that will keep consumers watching? Personalizing the user experience by delivering a video ad that’s tailored to the individual using information like time of day or location is one way to do this.

It’s clear that consumers will give their time, attention and dollars to brands that prioritize the user experience. In fact, personalization leads to as much as eight times the ROI and lifts sales by 10% or more, according to McKinsey. By giving users something back, thrilling them with the latest in sight and sound and creating a tailored experience, marketers have the power to keep consumers on the edge of their seats instead of leaving them.

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This story first appeared in the April 15, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.