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With the rapid rise of digital video consumption, marketers have begun taking advantage of its growing popularity to deliver advertising messages to a targetable online audience. According to an August 2014 report from Business Insider, U.S. online video ad revenue will reach nearly $5 billion in 2016, up from $2.8 billion in 2013, representing a three-year compound annual growth rate of 19.5 percent. While video advertising isn’t a new concept, the way tech-savvy viewers consume video is changing. This marked shift from TV to online viewing presents a real opportunity for marketers to incorporate programmatic video into their campaigns.

Video is a powerful tool for building brand awareness and relationships due to its ability to tell rich, compelling stories that deeply resonate with consumers on practical, emotional, and aesthetic levels. It also operates successfully as part of an integrated campaign that combines digital channels, such as display, social media, and mobile, as well as effectively extending the massive reach of TV to an even larger audience to deliver a cohesive brand message across all media channels.

For marketers looking to integrate video into a campaign, there are certain best practices to consider and pitfalls to avoid ensuring that the potentials of this important and constantly evolving channel are realized.

Know your audience

As expected, online audiences differ from TV audiences: With the overall immediacy of web content, these audiences have shorter attention spans. As such, shorter lengths, multichannel formats and interactive elements are often the most successful types of video ads.  Beyond that, it’s also important to dig a little deeper into your audience’s viewing habits — what types of content they watch, where they watch it, and how much time they spend viewing video content, etc. Online data can provide that basic information, including more detailed insights such as audience opinions on  entertainment types and advertising content, a viewer’s sphere of influence and how likely a viewer is to click on and/or make a purchase via a video ad.

Video campaigns should be planned as part of a holistic campaign vision and designed to support other channels to guarantee a seamless storytelling experience across all platforms. While repetition is valuable for building brand awareness, over-saturation is a potential problem with multichannel advertising, meaning frequency caps and sequential targeting should also be implemented across all channels. An ideal multichannel campaign presents a consumer with a balanced mix of formats and diverse yet relevant messages to keep their brand at the forefront of viewers’ minds, without causing viewer fatigue or risking negative brand perception due to irrelevance.

Optimize and attribute video campaign effectiveness

Digital video has been shown to drive high levels of user engagement; Business Insider reports that video ads have an average click-thru rate of 1.84 percent — the highest click-through rate of all digital ad formats. The key to driving that engagement, however, is relevance. Programmatic platforms and DMPs use sophisticated algorithms to measure the impact of these ads using video-specific performance data such as quartile-completion metrics, and automatically redirect media buys to focus on the most successful elements. Video lends itself well to on-the-fly optimization and on modern platforms frequency adjustments, targeting, and even creative can be made in real-time responding to users’ behavior and feedback.

Equally important to optimization is the ability to attribute results to specific channels within a multichannel campaign. It is important for marketers to be able to track and understand the role an online video ad has in the purchase funnel, particularly in the case of higher-funnel video ads that are intended for branding rather than driving direct sales. Marketers should seek out an attribution modelling solution that can track behaviors and events and give weight to the impressions that influenced the eventual conversion. Feeding this modelled data into a decisioning engine is the ultimate goal. This sort of execution enables marketers to reduce and/or eliminate areas of waste and maximize results.

Measure against video-specific benchmarks

Just like any other advertising campaign, video campaigns should have clear goals and measureable KPIs in place to gauge effectiveness and justify the spend. Marketers should be sure to set video-specific objectives such as exposure, engagement, reach, and frequency. No matter what the goal, the most powerful approach to achieve success is to optimize to end goal outcomes, not proxies.

Online video is a unique medium for storytelling and deep multi-sensory consumer engagement and more marketers are realizing its potential for consumer engagement, branding, and direct sales. Integrating digital video into your advertising campaigns is not as daunting a prospect as some might think. However, it is crucial that marketers who want to leverage digital video content understand that digital and TV audiences behave differently and must be engaged accordingly. That understanding will inform not only the campaign, but also the way in which it is measured, and will enable marketers to gain maximum return on this essential channel.

John DeFilippis director, product commercialization at MediaMath.