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Engaging Online Video Viewers

Marketing to a reluctant audience

Online video viewership has never been higher, and marketers are eager to reach such a large audience. But many viewers dislike or distrust video advertising—even though they freely accept television commercials.

The growth of professional content, much of which is accompanied by ads, will help get viewers used to online video commercials, easing acceptance.

“The audience perspective will also shift as marketers increasingly implement two key concepts,” said David Hallerman, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “Marketing to the Online Video Audience.” “It will mean making the length of video ads suitable to the length of content, so that they are not too pushy, and devoting resources to develop high-quality video creative that is well-targeted to the intended online audience.”

With strong audience preferences against intrusive video ads, less may be more. For example, an MTV Networks/InsightExpress study found their audience liked how short preroll and overlay ad combinations appeared and then disappeared, making them lower-impact and less intrusive—but with higher awareness metrics, too.

Brand Metrics for US Online Video Advertising Campaigns on MTV Networks, by Type of Ad, January-April 2009 (% of respondents)

Marketers still generally shun user-generated video, but the proliferation of short professional content gives them more opportunities for video advertising. Choosing an appropriate amount of advertising for the content and its audience will be key.

“The Internet and TV audience are not one and the same,” said Mr. Hallerman. “The Internet audience does not necessarily respond to the same ads in the same way they would after viewing them on TV.”

For example, younger people are more comfortable than their older counterparts with online media, which can lead to higher levels of engagement. A drill-down look from Nielsen Online shows that audiences ages 30 and younger are more likely than older viewers to find online video advertising funny, emotionally touching and informative—essential qualities for brand marketing.

Level of Engagement with Online Video Advertising by Internet Users in North America, by Age, April 2009 (% of respondents)

Further, there is still about a three-to-one split on whether viewers would prefer to see ads or pay to watch ad-free online videos. Mr. Hallerman suggests content providers would be wise to consider a hybrid model, much like cable TV, where subscription fees support content with fewer ads.

“The time is ripe for a video destination that offers a deep catalog of professionally created content and is supported by a blend of advertising and subscription fees,” he said.

The full report, “Marketing to the Online Video Audience” also answers these key questions:

  • Why do many people distrust online video advertising?
  • What can advertisers do to overcome that obstacle?
  • Can social media and video advertising be an effective mix?
  • What ad methods are needed with short video content?
  • Is the online video audience as large as it appears?

To purchase the report, click here. Total Access subscribers, log in and view the report now.

Check out today’s other article, “Meet the Mobile Web Audience.”



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