As colder and darker weather is upon us—the perfect time for cosying up on the sofa to watch a movie—I’m reminded of a very memorable experience that took place in my living room not too long ago. I was sitting down with my laptop to watch a favourite show. It was dark outside and I was alone at home.
The adverts came on…all normal so far, but then a gripping ad for an upcoming movie came on. It was not the sight of the alien bursting from its cocoon, or the alien on the roof of the space ship that grabbed me, but its loud, clear instruction aimed directly at me… “RUN!”
And I mean ME. Ben. The alien called me by my name. It was a breath-taking experience to witness, even though I knew how this ad was being created!
As a video marketing executive, I had heard rumblings about the Alien: Covenant ads that were going live on the Channel 4 Video On Demand service at that time, but I was still surprised when it happened to me.
To be addressed by name through my laptop — it generated a raft of immediate emotions and thoughts. The brain tries to rationalise it. For most people, it would be a thought-provoking experience, but for a marketer, it points to the great opportunities in using data effectively and the recent seismic shifts in how advertising can work.
How consumers watch video content is changing—from an increase in the number and types of devices and content delivery services, to a shift from live viewing to on-demand consumption. It’s true that the traditional 30-second spot during a prime-time series on linear TV still has the power to build brand awareness, but marketers now have so many new and exciting opportunities to engage with consumers as their viewing behaviour changes.
Between choices like on-demand broadcast or binge watching a series on Netflix, or even apps like Now TV and YouTube, viewers have many options to get the video content they desire. Are marketers leveraging all the assets in their digital toolkit to gain the most engagement from their investment?
The task at hand for marketing managers is to put themselves in their customers’ shoes to imagine the myriad ways they access information and consume content. In today’s crowded advertising environment, the goal is not so much about attracting attention, but rather, understanding how people consume content and match available data with their likes and needs.
Marketers have to connect with, and hold the attention of, consumers with truly memorable video experiences. If your video is not engaging, then your investment is worthless.
by leveraging first party data from its 15 million registered viewers, it was possible to personalise this video experience
Luckily for marketers, there are limitless possibilities to immerse consumers in creative content. The Alien: Covenant movie campaign described earlier came about because All 4, Channel 4’s Video on-demand service, was tasked with devising an ad campaign which would help build a more personal relationship with the brand. They also wanted to establish a mechanism that would allow other brands to extend their advertising power too. They began by asking how they could begin a conversation with the audience—and decided that it was by audibly addressing them by name, just as any conversation would start.
All 4 worked with Innovid to apply a personalised audio format into trailers for the movie. By leveraging first party data from its 15 million registered viewers, it was possible to personalise this video experience uniquely to each person who watched the ad so that, in real-time, they heard their own name called out in a personal message.
For 20th Century Fox, this was a unique and highly effective approach, but integrating audio and video into digital advertising in order to directly target individuals is becoming more and more popular, as this comment from Simon Wong, Account Director at UK ad agency Neo@Ogilvy, attests: “Technology is getting more interactive. What I like to see is super-personalised advertising from brands.”
The interactive customer journey
Of course, personalising ads will attract attention, but brand managers usually have another goal in mind—to encourage the consumer to take action. Interactive video provides the perfect platform for extending the branding of a TV spot into an interactive experience between a marketer and their consumer. Interactivity within digital video viewing brings marketers that mass reach, but through a 1-1 model for deeper branded experiences and personalised messaging that drives results.
For example, if the end-objective in a video marketing campaign is to promote a new product or service, during the initial awareness stage, the branding has to be clearly visible. Interactive features could include strategically placed, branded overlays to attract maximum attention, coupled with a call-to-action button using simple language that indicates what the viewer can explore next. By inviting the viewer in, the brand can immerse the viewer into its story more effectively.
by inviting the viewer in, the brand can immerse the viewer into its story
As the consumer progresses on their path to purchase, they are building greater consideration for the brand, but only if the interactive video experience delivers more for them to explore. This could be product recommendations based on their likes and dislikes, or it could be coupons with special offers or a local store locator. Marketers can use existing content, such as product photos or how-to videos to engage even further with the customer.
Remember, they are still navigating through one video ad, but research shows that on average, custom interactive videos yield over 41 seconds of additional time that audiences spend exploring content within a brand’s video. If they have a clear menu, it is their choice to continue interacting—they are controlling the experience, and the more interesting it is, the longer that engagement will continue.
Even the longest interactive engagement, however, needs to steer the consumer towards taking action. Interactive videos enable clickable overlays with dynamic deals that facilitate higher click-thru rates by an average of .7%. No marketer will want to leave the click-thru to chance, so it can be linked directly to a retailer’s website—or the brand’s own site— to help drive that vital conversion from browsing to purchase.
Personalising advertising through interactive video has another advantage: the interaction delivers a wealth of data every time the consumer clicks for more information. This data is invaluable and can inform a marketer’s entire video marketing strategy for the future. That’s not something that a traditional 30-second ad on linear TV can provide.