From Me to You(Tube): The Year Ahead for Video Advertising

Tim Cross 14 January, 2019 

As well as catering to the buy-side’s appetite for better measurement of video advertising, the industry should focus more on turning audiences’ attention into action says Matt Bush, director of agency at Google UK. Here Bush gives YouTube’s perspective on the key themes in video advertising over the coming year.

For many people, reflecting on 2018 invokes memories of a rip-roaring summer of football with the World Cup, or the inspiring rescue of 12 boys from a flooded Thai cave, or perhaps Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s sparkling wedding in May. Or maybe it will just be remembered as the year KFC briefly ran out of chicken.

For marketers, 2018 will be remembered as the year that online video truly asserted itself as a fundamental part of any modern media plan. According to the latest State of Online Video report from Limelight, consumers are watching an average of almost seven hours of online video per week, an increase of nearly two and half hours from 2016.

Ad spend naturally followed these changing consumer habits. The IAB found that video was a primary factor  in driving the growth of display advertising, registering a massive year-on-year increase of 40 percent, overtaking banner ads for the first time and accounting for 35 percent of total display ad spend. It is estimated that by 2020, video will account for a staggering 82 percent of consumer web traffic.

Online video advertising is a hugely attractive option for advertisers. It offers advertisers the valuable data and attribution insights that are synonymous with digital whilst also allowing a broad canvas for all kinds of engaging AV creative. 2019 will undoubtedly be another record-breaking year for video, and here are some key themes that will define the next stages of this format’s evolution.

Verification and standardisation

With the explosion of online video over the last decade, the means of measuring and assessing engagement became as diverse as the channels on which video content is delivered. For brands and agencies, this has meant that tracking how campaigns performed across different channels can sometimes be difficult.

Verification technology has become both increasingly sophisticated and increasingly important in terms of what agencies offer to clients. In 2019, we will see our industry further the push for transparent, encompassing third party verification standards, allowing even stronger partnerships to be formed with agencies and advertisers. We at Google for example have taken steps in this direction, working with Media Ratings Council and leading measurement technology providers to ensure advertising solutions delivered are trusted, align with industry standards, and can be compared across providers.

Turning attention into action

Last year we began to see our industry move beyond the simple objective of reaching eyeballs to beginning to recognise the new ‘attention economy’. With endless media options vying for our attention, advertisers are now acutely aware that attention has to be earned – without audiences that are paying attention, advertising is simply not effective.

Video content has always managed to command high attention from audiences, and we are seeing this play out on YouTube: 83 percent of YouTube viewers describe themselves as ‘fully or mostly’ paying attention, compared with just 58 percent across other social platforms.

How do you ensure your audiences are paying attention? The answer lies in data. BT sport illustrated how effective clever use of data can be with its 2017/18 Ashes advertising. BT Sport discovered that cricket fans weren’t just searching online for cricket. They also had a propensity to search for football highlights, travel content and much, much more. Within the data, patterns and shared preferences soon started to become clear.

BT Sport targeted advertising against non-cricket related search terms used by cricket fans on YouTube. By enlisting Geoffrey Boycott, famous cricketing curmudgeon, to directly and disruptively appeal for fans to drop what they were watching and tune into the cricket, BT Sport drove a 98 percent increase in Google searches and a 40 percent year-on-year sales uplift. Data informed decisions empowered BT Sport to go beyond basic demographics and target audiences based on their state of mind.

The proliferation of smartphones and the increasing speed of mobile internet means mobile devices now account for 75 percent of time spent online by UK adults. This is a figure that will only grow as we move into 2019, meaning we will increasingly see brands adopt shorter form video advertising that reflects the busy lives of mobile users.

However, these shorter form ads should not be treated in silos – shorter form ads work best in addition to longer form ads, not in lieu of them. Brands should think of these formats as parts of a whole – small scenes in a larger act, or slices of a bigger story served to consumers in sequence over time.

In a report for Forrester in 2008 titled How Video Will Take Over The World, James McQuivey assessed that if “a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video has to be worth at least 1.8 million.” The maths might be slightly spurious, but the message is proving true. Online video will continue its rapid growth in 2019 and for good reason, it offers advertisers exciting new routes to engage consumers creatively, wherever they are.


About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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