Video might have killed the radio star, but it certainly isn’t hurting social media.
As consumers “cut the cord” and turn increasingly to mobile devices and social platforms for media consumption, video advertising is taking over. Better phones and faster connection speeds mean more consumer eyeballs on video content — and more opportunity for marketers.
Just last week, Pinterest jumped into the fray when it began testing video advertising on its mobile platform (ads product manager Mike Bidgoli said that video ads had been the top request from advertisers). In July, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey shared his vision to make Twitter “video-centric,” and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg predicted that video would soon eclipse images in online sharing. Yahoo, Instagram and Snapchat — not to mention Google-owned YouTube — have also doubled-down on video advertising products.
Spending on digital video advertising is projected to rise from $7.7 billion last year to $12.82 billion in 2018, with mobile video advertising alone climbing 80 percent in 2015, according to stats shared in a recent L2 report.
“Video is where the innovative content creators are — blogger audiences are rivaling TV audiences — so brands are picking up on it,” said Taylor Malmsheimer, senior research associate in the intelligence group at L2. She said Americans spent on average five and a half hours each day last year watching video content in front of a screen. And according to analytics firm Tubular Insights, there were 383 billion video views generated across YouTube, Facebook, Vine and Instagram last month alone.
In 2015, online users spent more time on video than on any other digital activity for the first time, according to a report from Forrester analyst Nick Barber. More than half of consumers used video to inform a recent purchase.
Barber noted social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook each have their own hosting platforms. “Native videos play directly within a newsfeed, and this is more attractive for everyone involved,” Barber said. “There is no barrier to viewing and it just catches your attention.”
Thus, video ads in mobile and social media can be a more effective tool for communicating with consumers. According to a study from Twitter and IPG Media Lab, auto-play video ads in social media feeds are more memorable than pre-roll videos on non-feed-based sites. The researchers reported that, because users curate their content feeds, they are more likely to perceive ads as “relevant to their interests” and as “less intrusive.” They also found that branding elements that appear above social videos allowed for “strong branding” with less time required for viewing the video itself.
Twitter’s Heather O’Shea, who is global agency research and data strategy lead, said that nearly half of the audience recalled ads after only one second on Twitter. “We’ve been able to demonstrate that Twitter’s highly curated feed environment actually impacts how brand messages are received by users because they are in an open and discovery-oriented mind-set,” she said.
Forrester predicted that mobile will account for 67 percent of video advertising spending in 2021, up from 40 percent in 2016.
Research also suggests that CPM, cost per thousand viewers, is relatively low, especially in fashion and retail. According to a recent Instagram report from Brand Networks, CPM on the platform in the first quarter of 2016 averaged $4.16, with the fashion segment being even lower. The report said video ads on Instagram make up 71 percent of the industry’s Instagram ad spend.
According to research firm L2, nearly 80 percent of total global internet traffic will be driven by video in 2020. And Google said in a June study that time on YouTube has risen 74 percent year over year, while time spent watching TV has fallen 4.6 percent for 18 to 49 year olds.
This shift is paying off for social media platforms.
At Twitter, which has struggled to maintain relevance and build revenue, video has become the number-one format in terms of ad revenue as “promoted Tweet” advertisers have been upgrading, said chief operating officer Adam Bain.
Video has become the most-prevalent form of advertising on Instagram for clients of advertising firm Brand Networks, according to chief executive officer Jamie Tedford. A recent report from the firm said that in March, 65 percent of total Instagram impressions served were through video ads.
At Yahoo, which had an identity crisis that resulted in its sale to Verizon, chief revenue officer Lisa Utzschneiders said video advertising was up 64 percent in 2015 and that Yahoo video viewers were spending 85 percent more time with video content.
Although TV ad budgets and attention might be shifting toward online video advertising, experts advise against shifting over the exact same content.
The Twitter and IPG study found that ads that got to the point were seen as more informative and increased brand favorability. “In today’s environment where the competition for attention is so severe, it’s critical to front-load your vital messaging,” said Kara Manatt, who is senior vice president of intelligence solutions and strategy at IPG Media Lab.
Although in February Instagram increased the length of its video shares to 60 seconds, earlier messaging can help drive awareness at lower levels of viewability. L2 found that on Facebook, for example, the average engagement rate for videos that are less than 15 seconds is nearly double the average engagement rate of videos between 30 and 59 seconds.
Tubular Insights reported that in July, Buzzfeed was the most-watched media brand and that its style of video works well on both Facebook and YouTube: catchy titles, well-edited sequences and background music with content that gets quickly to the point.
Marketers are also advised to tailor the content to the platform.
Chanel, for example, in addition to adding a fashion show video to YouTube, shared four additional videos that repurposed that event, including highlights, an interview with Karl Lagerfeld and two behind-the-scenes pieces. Overall, these garnered 1.1 million views, and 66 percent of that was organic, according to L2.
But not all brands have the resources of Chanel. Noël Paasch, who is marketing manager of agency marketing at YouTube, said that budget and time constraints can lead to more creativity. In a June report from Google’s think tank, she wrote that creating successful online videos doesn’t have to mean new shoots, big budgets and a creative overhaul. Rather, Paasch recommended repurposing and re-cutting existing assets.
Malmsheimer, of L2, said that that is one appeal of Snapchat — because the platform doesn’t allow brands to upload pre-existing content, it encourages more scrappy, authentic-seeming videos. And they’re short, as Snapchat has a 10-second time limit.
“I’m not expecting a highly produced, aspirational piece of content, which is unusual for video,” she said. “Brands have to transition from huge productions with a creative director to smaller, bite-sizes pieces that are created on the phone.”
Ultimately, she said that video is a really “sticky” medium. Plus, she added, with Facebook and Instagram, there is a clear shift in their strategy that is video first. “Traditionally, what they prioritize, they excel at, and brands are forced to get on board. It’s a really good opportunity for brands that are cracking the code.”