The Skinny on In-Stream Video Formats

Posted by Todd Pasternack on December 6th, 2012 at 12:07 pm

There’s no question that in-stream video campaigns are on the rise, thanks to its effectiveness, growth and availability of quality inventory for marketers. But when it comes to in-stream video, the big questions really boil down to: what type of creative is really working and why? What are the fundamental components of in-stream video campaigns that marketers should be aware of to get the most out of their paid media dollars? And what actions are taken throughout the lifespan of an in-stream video campaign to show consumers are actually engaged?

Let’s first begin with the fundamental components of in-stream video to lay a foundation for understanding what’s possible. As a format, standard in-stream video has been around for years. Quite simply, this is a video ad creative (the TV commercial) shown inside a content-producer’s video player on their website or application – whether on desktop, mobile, tablet, or now even Connected TV.  Technology providers, including PointRoll, are able to leverage data to deliver targeted, relevant video creative just like in display. Worried about how to deliver the right video creative to the right person? Working with others in the eco-system, audiences can be defined and validated to make sure the right video is seen by the most relevant audience. The mantra still holds up: the right message to the right person at the right time.

Video creative used on TV can easily be repurposed and seems to be the most widely used asset for in-stream video. In fact, a recent April eMarketer report cited that TV creative is used for online video ads at least 90% of the time by marketers. And let’s face it, this approach is familiar to marketers, can be easily implemented by advertisers and will allow consumers to easily connect with creative that is already familiar to them. The creative is also effective whether using a 15 second or 30 second spot with click-through rates being garnered in the 7.5- to 15-second range, according to Videology’s “Video Wars: Click Through Rates vs. Completion Rates” March 2012 report.

There’s also interactive in-stream video or, as most people would consider it, rich media creative within a video player environment. The truth of the matter here is that there isn’t some sort of “magic,” technologically speaking, despite the perception that exists in the video space. If something can be done creatively inside a rich media ad in the display world, it can be done in an interactive in-stream ad. This means you can do a lot of things: integrate social features, allow the viewer to choose which ad they see, play games, watch additional video or even control the publisher’s video player and page in some cases.

But, in my opinion, where things truly get exciting is with dynamic in-stream video. This format can support either showing the right video by geo-targeting creative to a viewer, or displaying data an advertiser has at the local level, such as store locations, sale items and product imagery within the creative itself.

Standard, interactive and dynamic in-stream video formats are all effective. When it comes to campaign integration, it boils down to what assets are available, how much time and budget there is to develop a concept and new creative, and what the KPIs are for the campaign to help decide which format may work best.

On the measurement front, the biggest buzz in the industry right now is having a validated gross rating point (GRP) metric for online video comparable to television viewing measurement. This is currently available through providers like Nielsen and comScore and is rapidly being adopted by practically everyone in the advertising eco-system. An online, and eventual cross-screen, GRP will help to lower the barriers between TV and digital media buying by placing them on somewhat equal ground from a common-currency perspective.

In addition to the GRP metric, performance should also be measured after you reach your audience. How did a viewer respond? What did they do while they were watching the creative? Did they interact with it? Or, more importantly, how will engagement be defined for the campaign?

Similar questions to your other digital campaigns, right? In-stream shouldn’t be mysterious. Standard in-stream is closest to TV, while interactive/dynamic in-stream is closest to rich media display. And it all happens inside a video player, regardless of which screen the consumer is viewing.

Leave a comment