This is a guest post by Yaniv Axen, co-founder and chief technology officer at SundaySky.
Earlier this week, Mo Al Adham, CEO of Telly, wrote a VentureBeat article, “3 reasons why digital video needs to rethink its advertising model,” in which he argues that pre-roll ads have a “negative impact” on the advertised brand and that the “death of pre-roll video” is looming. I would counter his perspective: Pre-roll ads have the ability to positively impact customer-centric brands and drive customer engagement and acquisition strategies.
Adham is right about one thing; Online video advertising is executed the wrong way, when it follows TV’s model of delivering one ad to many viewers, ultimately annoying the consumer. Consumers want content and experiences that address their personal interests — ads they want to watch. Matching creative best practices from TV advertising with data-driven intelligence established in the display marketing space in recent years will deliver better, more personalized video ad experiences to consumers, including by pre-roll. Think about it: if given the choice, would you choose a video ad for someone like you, or a video ad created in the moment just for you?
With personalized pre-roll ads just for you, brands combine the power of video advertising with the efficacy of on-site and engagement retargeting – such as purchase history or email campaign interaction – to recapture an otherwise lost investment. To retarget properly with pre-roll ads, the video content must be generated in real time and personalized based on segmented, persona, profile and behavioral attributes.
There are numerous ways to measure the impact of retargeted pre-roll video ads, such as evaluating the view rate, video ad completion rate, visitor return rate, surveys and hours of brand engagement. While brand impact and awareness is the common goal for online video programs, smarter, personalized video ads should also be measured for things like conversions, average order value, incremental revenue and return on ad spend (RoAS). In fact, retargeted pre-roll ads have proven to surpass display and other remarketing tactics. Visitors who are engaged with personally relevant ads visit the site, convert and spend up to 10 percent more than equivalent visitors who don’t receive these ads.
Below are five ways in which brands can use personalized pre-roll ads for a positive consumer experience:
- Deliver the right content, at the right time – Adham put it best: watching the same ad again and again frustrates consumers, leaving a negative brand impact. Yet, companies have the opportunity to combat ad repetition by leveraging visitor frequency and previous views to modify a pre-roll video ad in the moment, delivering a different message, more meaningful to the consumer. For instance, if a visitor already viewed a video ad for the last product viewed and did not take the intended action, a different pre-roll ad can be created with a promo discount, customer reviews, a free shipping message, or a new featured product.
- Provide relevant after-purchase offers – Amazon’s sales growth has proven that personalized recommendations work, and companies can follow suit by delivering pre-roll ads that include related product recommendations based on previous purchasing behavior, featuring content in the right context. By knowing and understanding their customers, brands deliver a positive customer experience, ultimately deepening loyalty and driving more quality purchases.
- Introduce websites and products that are most interesting to the consume. When brands perform look-alike targeting, they bring consumers to new sites and promote new products that are most relevant to the individual consumer’s interests. By capturing all attributes related to successful retargeted video ad engagements, a look-alike profile can be established for a target prospect who has not yet visited the site, yet is searching for related content.
- Nurture existing customers – Marketers can track customer segmentation and historical attributes to promote loyalty and reward programs to consumers via pre-roll ads, delivering a more tailored message for wherever the customer stands in the lifecycle. “Sign-up for preferred customer status” and “Refer a friend for points” are example messages for frequent purchasers while “Join us on Facebook and receive a discount on your next purchase” is a common message to a new customer.
- Share to the small screen, too – Mobile devices are the most personal engagement vehicles out there, held in the palm of a hand. And while Adham is correct in saying a 30-second TV ad doesn’t belong on the mobile screen, brands can leverage customer data attributes via mobile devices, such as geographic location, usage patterns and cross-device browsing, to personalize the ad experience here, too.
Contrary to Mr. Adham’s point that, “pre-roll ads are not well received by the viewer, which negatively impacts the advertiser,” leading customer-centric brands such as Office Depot and Lenovo are turning to real-time, personalized pre-roll video ads to provide each customer or prospect with relevant information, leading to significantly higher conversion rates, RoAS, and a better viewing experience for the consumer.
Yaniv Axen is co-founder and chief technology officer of SundaySky. He is tasked with advancing new technologies and innovative ideas to ensure that the company remains at the forefront of the market for online video. Prior to co-founding SundaySky, Yaniv directed a research and development team at Israeli start-up Veon.