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Of Course Video Advertising Should be Personalized, Targeted

As Facebook pushes to grow its streaming video service, brands inevitably want to get involved. The social media giant will be spending $1 billion on video content, and that’s only going to open the floodgates for more branded video and ads as part of that deluge.

Personalization creates the real payoff, as one Adweek contributor recently pointed out. And the ensuing article hands you what’s framed as the best practices for successful video ads on Facebook. It’s a five-step guide for basic audience targeting and buying habits.

But none of this is new information at all. Personalized, programmatic advertising has been growing steadily. In 2017, 80 percent of display ads will be programmatic, and that number continues to rise. Getting hyper-targeted with video content is also a common occurrence. TV’s been a branding medium for decades. Digital platforms have exhibited success too, though it’s owned-and-operated distribution that’s in the best interest of everyone involved. For example, the Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group more than doubled its video views from 80 million in October ’16 to 210 million in February ’17 working with IRIS.TV. With most of the viewership on owned and operated properties.

When entering into the enormous ad ecosystems of Facebook and Google, you’re getting access to larger raw audience numbers than today’s TV. But the targeting and personalization is not as strong. Looking at it from the standpoint of publishers (networks, magazines, websites) and brands, that large fire hose provides little control or data, though.

With a dedicated owned-and-operated media audience, there’s useful data, control and most importantly, greater lift and engagement. Presenting branded content to that captive group, creates high retention rates and brand affinity. And according to Nielsen, publishers do matter. Marketers that distributed their branded content in partnership with a publisher saw a higher brand lift – 50 percent higher, on average – than those who published content on their own. Partnering with publishers gives brands access to pre-existing formats, known personalities and loyal audiences where trust has already been established.

According to IRIS.TV data, when they first on-board a media client, on average, 80 percent of users bounce from the domain before the end of the first video.

The key considerations being: What is the value you are extracting from the 20 percent who stay and what are you doing to reduce the bounce rate in the first place?

Starting with the first point, through personalization with IRIS.TV, media companies are seeing viewers watch about three more videos on average, with most of those videos being monetized with pre-roll. With that level of engagement, they are not watching four videos, but a mini TV show. The pre-roll ads are now akin to act breaks and commercials that viewers are actually watching.

Addressing the second point, those same media companies gain insight and a deeper understanding of what works on an asset and category level, making it easier to understand what type of content works best on video and editorial pages.

Said Stella Voutsina, EVP, Technology, Data and Digital Operations of Media Assembly:

“IRIS.TV Campaign Manager will enable agencies and brands to better engage targeted audiences as it solves many of the global operations and business challenges that have limited branded content distribution from reaching its true potential. In-stream programming is the future of branded video and IRIS.TV with its combination of A.I. personalization, predictive analytics and prescriptive insight, is ahead of the curve and establishing the practices which will soon become industry standards.”

One year ago, Nielsen also exhibited the value of in-stream branded content over pre-roll ads. In the age of ad blockers, in-stream generated 86 percent brand recall among users, versus 65 percent for pre-roll. Affinity, recommendation intent and purchase intent for in-stream also far out-paced pre-roll ads.

“To achieve engagement rates that mirror editorial content, brands need to place their branded content in contextually relevant streams and on premium media sites that are targeted and trusted. It does make a significant difference when brands see 20 percent of their viewers watch the entire 100-second piece of content.” said Field Garthwaite, Co-Founder and CEO – ‎IRIS.TV.

So by treating Facebook, Google or any other digital platform’s videos like television shows to place ads around, you’re guaranteeing lesser results. Treating these ad units like content — not short-form snippets borrowed from TV commercials — on an owned-and-operated channel has proven results. All without arbitrage and fraud issues, of course.

Today’s marketers can leverage AI and machine learning technology used on premium content sites to know when and where to play video that will achieve the highest rates of engagement. The alternative? Entering into a loosely personalized arrangement where brands buy in-stream long-form ads on questionable metrics, then hope for the best outcome.

When viewed through that lens, Facebook’s live video ambitions present no “A-Ha!” moment, nor paradigm shift. Rather, it’s an expectation that you can just apply old principles with a new coat of paint and call it unique.

By way of the world’s largest social network, Facebook has a chance to distribute successful branded content. But it needs to shed the notions of its old ad model to be a true partner for brand success on Watch.

Of course video advertising should be personalized. There’s already tools out there (like IRIS.TV’s) to do just that. Marketers just need to take control of the ad process, and follow the data to better results. For example, instead of driving audiences to dedicated landing pages and waiting on clicks, IRIS.TV’s Campaign Manager uses a personalization engine to program branded video to the right user at the right time.

With in-stream video programming, marketers can serve branded campaigns organically to targeted audiences on premium publisher owned and operated destinations.