7 Ways Brands Are Evolving Their Message For Digital Video

June 12, 2018
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“Mary Meeker at Kleiner Perkins said it best: ‘Content is the store,’” said Allon Caidar, founder and CEO of TVPage, an online shoppable video platform.

Written by Giselle Abramovich – Senior & Strategic Editor – CMO.com

Consumers sure are hungry for their daily digital video. Today, they spend almost 83 minutes per day consuming this type of content, heading toward 92 minutes by 2020, according to eMarketer’s most recent estimates.

For brands and marketers, that growth represents huge opportunities to creatively captivate audiences through site, sound, and motion.

“We define digital video as any audiovisual content that is delivered via an Internet connection or a mobile network,” said Paul Verna, a senior analyst at eMarketer. “That encompasses everything from YouTube, to video on Facebook, to Netflix, to HBO Now. It’s really anything that’s audiovisual but not delivered by cable, satellite, or over-the-air.”

Indeed, given advancements in the underlying technology, a plethora of new video formats have come to the forefront, with multiple channels and platforms for sharing and distributing content, Verna told CMO.com.

In response, marketers have become “brilliant strategists” in terms of using video to drive engagement, conversation, and “measurable, custom journeys toward brand love and purchase,” said Tod Loofbourrow, chairman and CEO of ViralGains, a provider of video advertising technology.

Read on for our deep dive into seven of the biggest trends we’re seeing in video today and what to expect in the future.

1. Vertical Video
Vertical video is the outcome of a mobile-first generation who interacts with their devices in portrait mode. In fact, the smartphone is the device of choice for more than 75% of worldwide video viewing, according to eMarketer.

Acording to Jeff Pedersen, principal product marketing manager for Creative Cloud Enterprise at Adobe (CMO.com’s parent company), the challenge with vertical video is largely in the editing. Often, brands, which are accustomed to filming in the traditional landscape, or horizontal mode, find themselves having to reshoot the content for mobile.

“Vertical video is just a whole, new creative idea,” Pedersen said. This changes the game in how videos are shot to begin with, Pedersen said, emphasizing the importance of planning for mobile/vertical video way before the shoot starts. “As digital screens continue to populate in new areas and formats, expect the video multiformatting issue to continue to grow as a need,” Pedersen said.

Indeed, as mobile Internet use continues to grow and outpace desktop, getting vertical video right is a must. Earlier this year, Digiday highlighted publisher News U.K. for its launch of the “V-Studio,” which helps advertisers on its media properties (The Sun and The Times of London, among others) to convert their horizontal videos into the vertical format. News U.K. reportedly ran 16 vertical video campaigns from October 2017 through January 2018, with luxury brands such as Michael Kors and Mr Porter adopting to the format quickly.

As more publishers follow suit, vertical video advertising is expected to grow.

“If you know that your video is going to Snapchat but you’re also doing a TV campaign, try to plan for that when you do your shoot,” Verna advised. “There’s going to be a difference in how you shoot a scene depending on whether the video will end up vertical, horizontal, or both.”

2. Shoppable Video
Shoppable video is an example of product placement at its finest. In the past, products were strategically placed into television shows and even movies, end of story. But with shoppable video, consumers can view a product in a video, then click or tap to be linked directly to purchase it online.

Fashion brand Ted Baker has dabbled with shoppable ads. The brand has a three-minute shoppable film experience called “Mission Impeccable” in which viewers can at any time choose to browse through the apparel and accessories worn by the actors and actresses and make purchases for themselves.

“Mary Meeker at Kleiner Perkins said it best: ‘Content is the store,’” said Allon Caidar, founder and CEO of TVPage, an online shoppable video platform. “Consumers today seek engagement everywhere, as well as the ability to act on that engagement instantly. Making content shoppable through leveraging AI-driven product-to-video metadata matching gives merchants the ability to respond to today’s consumer.”

Retailers and brands also have the opportunity to take shoppable content to the next level by streaming live to consumers, using technology that scans live video and automatically serves up related products to buy in real time, Caidar added.

“Before technology made it possible to shop directly from video, merchants relied on static product images or videos to reach consumers,” Caidar said. “The transition to dynamic and shoppable video content has proved to engage the ever-dwindling consumer attention span and increase conversion.”

An example of this today is Amazon’s X-Ray, which overlays information on top of the digital video content that consumers watch. Wondering who that actor is or what song is playing in the background? The tool instantly provides extra information about what is on the screen. “And just imagine if that idea can extend to brands and to products,” Adobe’s Pedersen said.

3. Ephemeral Video
Ephemeral video is audiovisual content that is available for a capped period of time. That mentality of “check it out now or risk missing out” is what makes the format so popular with young audiences. This month, Facebook revealedits Stories feature now has 150 million daily viewers. To capitalize on this growing audience, the social behomoth will start testing its first Facebeook Stories ads in the U.S., Mexico and Brazil.

You can’t possibly talk about ephemeral video and not think of Buzzfeed or Refinery, both of which are creating short videos for content platforms such as Stories, Snapchat and Instagram. Other publishers, such as Vice, have made the same commitment, as have brands including J. Crew, Michelob Ultra, and LG, to name a few.

But ephemeral content doesn’t only live on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. For example, record label Main Course offers a Soundcloud of its artists’ new releases for which fans are granted a limited time to listen before the content disappears.

“The fleeting nature of this type of content adds to its novelty and appeal among audiences, especially younger ones,” according to Paula Bruno, president of Blissful Media Group, a social media agency. “Because ephemeral content is short-lived and spontaneous, it is thought of as being more authentic than sponsored posts and raises the potential of FOMO [fear of missing out]. As a result, viewers tend to act fast and purchase now.”

4. Interactive Video
Interactive video allows consumers to engage beyond mere viewing. For example, nonprofit Mended Little Hearts uses interactive video to illustrate how donations help children with congenital heart disease. Within the video, viewers are encouraged to donate to the cause; each time a donation is made, the video becomes sunnier and more fun for the main character, Max.

This trend is even making its way onto connected TVs. “If you’re watching at home on, let’s say, Sling TV or any of those platforms, you can use your remote control to interact with an ad,” eMarketer’s Verna said. “That’s something a lot of people are starting to experiment with.”

An example is a series of NBC Olympics promotions that led up to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Video ads ran on NBC Sports, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Android and Apple mobile operating systems featuring five U.S. athletes: snowboarder Shaun White, alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, figure skater Nathan Chen, freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, and alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin. Viewers, using their TV remotes, were able to click through information and fun facts about the athletes.

Abbey Thomas, CMO of Tremor Video, saids she expects the trend of customizing video ads to specific TV events will continue to grow.

“Thanks to new, emerging technologies, advertisers are now able to have a one-to-one direct conversation with their customers within the modern living room,” Thomas told CMO.com. “This truly takes the linear experience and makes it digital. … The opportunity for brands is to align digital creative with on-air activity. And when real-time TV data is combined with advanced video creative, it generates optimal video performance, which makes digital video advertising incredibly more valuable.”

5. Personalized Video
Personalization tactics are effective because people like when their experiences are tailored to their needs and preferences. Personalized video marketing is no exception.

Adidas, for example, created and delivered personalized videos for each and every runner in last month’s Boston Marathon. Runners received their videos just hours after they crossed the finish line.

“Human beings are hard-wired to consume audiovisual content,” said Yotam Benami, CMO at Idomoo, a personalized video provider. “Our brains process it faster, and much more information can be retained in a far shorter time when compared to text or audio. Personalized video is data-driven video [that] translates data-driven insights into customer action.”

Recent developments, such as open platforms and chatbots, promise to significantly expand the use of personalized video going forward, Benami added.

6. 360-Degree Video
AOL research from 2017 found that almost half of global consumers (49%) are experiencing 360-degree video on mobile. At a time when consumers are demanding experiences and not just “buy me, buy me” ads, 360-degree video offers a compelling way to take people behind the scenes to get to know a brand.

Take NASCAR as an example.

“Before emerging technology like VR and 360-degree video, getting people to a track was the single opportunity to fully appreciate a NASCAR event,” said Tim Clark, the brand’s vice president of digital media, in a recent interview with CMO.com. “I think we still agree that that’s the case, and the ultimate goal is to have NASCAR fans experience races in person. However, virtual reality and 360-degree video is probably the next best thing.”

For instance, NASCAR fans can take a 360-video tour of the NASCAR garage, where aficionados can see cars up close and from different angles. This 360-degree access was made available on the NASCAR website, through its mobile app, and on Facebook and YouTube.

7. Live Video
Live video is also gaining in popularity among consumers. Brands are following the eyeballs. For example, General Electric used Facebook Live to host a 360-degree livestream dubbed “The Creators Circle.” The host of the three-hour livestream, Nina Hajian, interviewed artists and influencers such as Cat London, Dschwen and Alicia D’Angelo in creative spaces set up for their individual artistic expertise. The video aimed to introduce the brand’s Relax, Refresh and Reveal LED light bulbs, which the artists used throughout their creative spaces. Viewers could move from room to room to see how each artist was using their bulb during the creative process.

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