As Brands Move From Traditional TV, They Need to Consider Social Video

Opinion: Otherwise you risk losing younger audiences

Six arms holding up their phone searching for a signal; the arms are surrounded by blue lines against a white background
By not embracing social tactics, brands are risking losing younger audiences. Getty Images
Headshot of JoAnna Foyle

With the upfronts and NewFronts seasons in play, the fact that traditional and digital media have reached parity in ad spend is thrown into stark relief.

As consumer behavior has shifted digital-first, ad dollars are also beginning to make major shifts. However, in TV and digital video, we’re still seeing discrepancies. Despite diminishing viewer time spent and rising costs within the realm of linear TV, many big brands remain hesitant to immerse themselves fully in digital video.

As linear TV viewership declines, viewer time spent with digital video is rising, and advertising opportunities around this content proliferate and mature. U.S. digital video ad spending is expected to boast double-digit growth rates in coming years and surpass $50 billion in 2022. Much of this growth is fueled by video advertising, and yet big brand hesitation to delve into these video platforms abounds. With anxiety around, “Where will my ad run?” and “What creators will my ad dollars subsidize?” and “How can I guarantee content relevance?” in addition to the overall strangeness that is social video, brands need time to get comfortable.

Big brands typically evolve through four stages as their platform relationships mature. The trouble is that too many are getting stuck along the path out of fear or lack of information and risk losing younger, critical consumers. Let’s take a look at these common stages and how brands can accelerate their journey into the full opportunity.

Compliance

Big brands invest millions to build brand reputation and integrity, and the first thing they must figure out when it comes to digital video is suitability and safety. They look to the platforms where they plan to advertise for this.

But perhaps even more proactively, brands need to devise and deploy digital video strategies that allow them to avoid content that, while not patently unsafe, is unsuitable for their brands. Brands entering this realm must ensure they’re actively considering what “quality” means to their brand, which channels are logical and then implementing these proactive solutions before making further digital investment.

Alignment

Once brands ensure their ads will be viewable and appear alongside brand safe, brand suitable content, they must address the issue of maximizing every media dollar. To avoid misaligned content, marketers should get involved more deeply with the buying process, challenging planners to ensure every video ad is being delivered to a consumer who could impact marketing objectives. This often includes asking your team to avoid content in out-of-market languages as well as content created for audiences that will never purchase your product, like children. It requires working closely with a brand’s media team to ensure proper parameters are set on every video buy.

Exploration

As brands move deeper into digital video, they must begin to hone the settings around their brand guidelines to set a course for optimal outcomes. Often brands initially take a stricter stance to safety and suitability, but as comfort increases, they get curious about opportunities to reach new audiences and content segments. This may bring alternative approaches to placements, inventory or even creative formats into play.

The exploration phase typically involves testing additional suitability parameters that become part of the brand’s larger strategy. It is at this point when the conversation evolves from what brands are trying to avoid how they capitalize on the scale and opportunity of social platforms. At this juncture, brands need to be experimenting with various content types and formats, monitoring results and feeding the learning back into future campaigns.

Performance

Finally, as brands begin to see consistent results from video ad campaigns, a cycle of continual refinement begins as advertisers look to achieve scale and even greater efficiency. Once initial objectives are being met, brands look to optimize their audiences and targeting strategies further to improve results. They seek to better understand, embrace and excel with their video campaigns through the use of third-party data that can deliver competitive advantages.

In other words, this coveted phase of video deployment is when things really start to get fun. The key here is ensuring that both the team and the tools are geared for targeting, measurement and optimization for performance at scale.

For big brands with big budgets, digital video represents an understandably daunting shift away from traditional TV advertising mindsets, metrics and systems, but it’s a shift that’s becoming ever more vital for continued brand relevance with younger audiences. By understanding the progression of successful digital video strategies outlined above and embracing, fostering and tuning up all the relevant (both internal and external) relationships and tools, advertisers can look to accelerate their progress toward the ultimate goal of optimal performance on today’s massive video platforms.


@jfoylenyc JoAnna Foyle is chief operating officer for OpenSlate.
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