Guest Column: Branded content must be 'discoverable', not forced upon consumers

Guest Column: Branded content must be 'discoverable', not forced upon consumers

Author | Arnab Mitra | Friday, Mar 14,2014 9:40 AM

Guest Column: Branded content must be 'discoverable', not forced upon consumers

Television media mongers are trying to play the digital video game through the rules known to them. Is that helping a brand? Guess no. However, the fix is simple. Acceptance.

Marketers are often repurposing and using TV ads online in pre-roll or mid-roll spots. The ads launch automatically without the device user having any choice in the matter and the TV ads are generally out of context with the content around the ads.

Anyone watching on-demand TV content knows that this is a frustrating ad experience, and it’s even more of an intrusion on the smaller screens of tablets and smartphones.

A study by our internal research shows that seven out of 10 people are annoyed by ads which self-initiate on their handheld devices and don’t allow a “skip ad” functionality.

Consumers’ acceptance of interruptions on their digital devices is far lower than on TV, and the ad is considered a significant intrusion to their content consumption, because the digital medium for the longest time has been perceived as the on-demand medium.

Create video content for digital audiences
Consumers are increasingly watching online videos across multiple devices, so it's vital that marketers start understanding how this experience differs from traditional TV. Advertisers must create content that is designed for digital audiences who consume video in a different way to TV viewers. Moreover, simply using a TV creative, whilst adequate, does not make the most of the potential offered by the digital environment. This also means the length of video content and ad creative must be responsively designed and adapted to work at their optimum for multiple consumer devices.

The ad technology used to deliver video ads must recognise the type of device that is being used by the consumer to experience the ad (whether smartphone, tablet or desktop) and deliver the appropriate video ad format for that device.
The best online video ad formats put the user in control of their video ad experience, including whether they choose to watch the video ad or not.

Indeed, research shows that two thirds of consumers browsing content on their smartphones or tablets prefer ads they initiate on their own.

If brands want to extend the use of their TV commercials into the digital environment, they’re best advised to give consumers more than just the TV ad. We’ve found that consumers engage with brands for far longer when TV ads are used online before the launch of brands’ integrated marketing campaigns, which deliver a mix of content in one brand experience.

Thirty-second video spots can become an introduction to a compendium of branded content for the consumer to explore which includes brands' social media feeds, images, blog posts, advice articles, third party reviews, games or other video formats such as out-takes and how to videos.

When content is relevant to the consumer, it adds value to their experience, and consumers develop a more meaningful relationship with the brand.

Cost-effective video content
Even though the concept of content marketing has reached the video industry, some marketers seem reticent about investing in developing video creative for their content marketing campaigns – perhaps because there’s so much use of TV ads in digital that they think that video ad creative must be big budget.
Undoubtedly when a brand is able to offer a cinematic experience on digital devices, it’s impressive but in a digital environment there are many more ways to engage consumers with brands’ creative, especially if they offer more to consumers than a simple 'buy our product' message. What’s more, technology has enabled marketers to create video content far more cost-effectively than was previously possible, so it's now a realistic marketing option for most brands.

The sight, sound and motion of video content, brings a brand to life far more than mere text, images or audio can in isolation. Of course, the subject matter, story and creative tactics used in video creative need to be relevant to the consumer and compelling, but when this is achieved, even video content created with relatively low budgets can be far more engaging to consumers than simply recycled TV spots served on a digital platform.

The most salient example is, simple 'how to' videos - which perhaps cover the best ways to use a product, beyond merely communicating a sales message. They enable brands to give consumers something valuable as well as conveying brand messages in a video format that is generally far longer than the standard 30 second TV ad. Granted, these sorts of videos aren’t likely to get into the viral video chart, but frankly few do. That isn’t half bad. So suggested is to not make viral videos, but great videos that get organic views and a lot of them, because there isn't any sure-shot success strategy to make one!

Promotion of video content
They may have tried producing branded video content before, only to have it languish on their website or their YouTube channel without attracting the video views to justify their investment in the content creation.

Brands need to promote video content more proactively than just relying on some social media sharing, emailing links to customers or hoping consumers stumble upon the content whilst searching the web.

The best branded video content strategies enable consumers to feel that they have found the content themselves – even though marketers have strategically chosen to place it in front of them.

Branded content must be 'discoverable', not forced upon consumers. So, rather than merely running branded video as a pre-roll before content – which would just look like an ad – brands should seed their content across relevant online environments.

One of the best ways of doing so is by placing ad units, which give access to the branded video content within contextually relevant editorial. This enables consumers to discover the branded content far more easily.

It doesn’t take much to buy some pre-roll or mid-roll space and chuck the video ad network some TV creative to use, so you can’t blame the brands that do it.
However, the range of devices that support video and the greater ease at which marketers can develop original, interesting and helpful video content means they can build far deeper relationships with consumers by more effective use of video creative.

When executed well, creating branded video content that’s not just a TV ad helps to establish a more natural, authentic relationship with consumers through sight, sound and motion, engendering trust and loyalty.

The author is Co-founder and Managing Director at LIQVD Asia.

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