Guest Column: Video - The ‘Wazir’ of Digital Movement

Take a deep breath and now let’s go back in time. The year 1999, a late evening walk in the by-lanes of my colony, I had my head held up high, hearing every sound, the cars, people chatting in their balconies, someone watching TV loud enough for me to hear a few dialogues, old Hindi movie numbers, absorbing the nature, the sounds, the air. In 2000, due to peer pressure I purchased my first mobile handset, take a wild guess...yes. The Nokia 3310. Features, we all know. Thankfully, I had got a corporate plan while working in, then known as GE Capital, so the bills were somehow doable. Slowly, things around me changed and today when I look back, I am happy to have been a part of this evolution which, in fact, is marked by a marketing revolution.

According to a recent report, the Indian Digital sector is expected to cross the Rs 8,490-crore mark from Rs 2,000 crore at present, more led by OTT and digital advertising. Currently, Digital Media contributes approximately 14 per cent of the total ad spend in the country, however by 2019 it is expected to be about a quarter of the ad expenditure.

The past quarter saw a continuation of recent audience patterns, including growth in digital video viewership overall (particularly in viewers of premium-length content), erosion of the pay TV user base and especially strong digital video adoption among young adults.

Mobile continues to overtake desktop as the preferred device for digital video viewing, but home-based viewing on connected TVs is also a big draw. Subscription video-on-demand providers are licensing their apps to as many device platforms as possible, including traditional cable boxes.

Full-length TV shows and movies dominate digital video viewing, but the legions of content creators who emerged on YouTube are also flexing their muscles and increasingly exploring social video venues.

The augment in the acceptance of digital video with thee online video audience in India expected to reach 450 million users and replacing US as the second largest market behind China.

These stats are quite enterprising to believe the way digital ecosystem has evolved. I recall the times about 12 years back, when Mobile inventory and terms like WAP were the new age words. One who did not know ‘WAP’ and the meaning of ‘inventory’ in context of Digital space and someone who could not pronounce it as well as we did, was someone we used to not make friends with (well, that’s on a lighter note), however there has been an existential burgeoning question - how to make digital video monetisation better while bringing utmost value to the client.

With over 355 mm Internet users, almost 40 per cent YOY growth at 27 per cent Internet penetration, India is a marketplace which no country can ignore. Also, mobile data prices in the past 2 years have dipped -48 per cent as incumbent carriers responded to Jio’s low pricing. Broadband subscribers in India are accelerating upwards of 85 per cent, with key players like Jio, Bharti Airtel Vodafone, Idea, BSNL. The OTT players are changing the game with the advent of Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Jio TV, and Ozee amongst a whole bunch of players.

Now, since we have talked about some bright numbers on top, it’s time to look at the challenges that we see being faced in the evolving Digital Video space. The good part, I will not talk about the tech challenges because technology is eroding challenges. Let’s look at some challenges in perspectives in our business marketing.

Creative brief and the Creative itself

One thing that I see has evolved at the slowest pace is a ‘brief’, and both media agencies and publishers could channelise this better. We may know what we may want, however most times we are not able to put down a proper campaign brief. The good part - it is simple. The key aspects that need to be highlighted are – End objective of the video/ campaign, Key target audience, highlights of the product, timelines and the icing on the cake- measure of success. And being handled by a team who are cognizant of how to belt out a creative that has maximum chance to relate with the audience. That augments the video’s shelf life.

The Hawk’s-eye focus

Once upon a time, there used to one advertisement. Today, a video advertisement may have another video advertisement waiting to be clicked. That’s okay with marketplace getting bigger and demand of inventory in the rise with programmatic making things easier and well, may be slightly difficult in terms of transparency in measurement. However, what I understand is we are not paying 100 per cent attention to our audience today, as we used to say 15 to 20 years back. We need to stress more on our hawk’s eye focus on seamless consumer experience of a video and not only in terms of an advertisement, but a longer term connect.

Advertisers’ Demand for Inventory Outpaces Publishers’ Supply

Premium publishers are increasing their investments in video, developing more sophisticated strategies and placing video content in more prominent locations. Publishers are also creating more vertical-oriented mobile video content, which can contribute to a more personalized consumer experience than horizontal orientation. These efforts aim to generate more quality video inventory for brand advertisers. Supplementing this content with highly contextual data will further amplify the value of the inventory.

Industry Standards and Metrics - Shaping up the Measurement

Budding nature of mobile video, as we see it - disparities exist in standards, including pricing, metrics such as viewability, and what constitutes an actual video ad. Mobile video formats extend beyond pre and post-roll clips on webpages to include in-app ads, auto-play ads within newsfeeds and new formats that might emerge tomorrow. By eliminating manual direct sales and implementing programmatic strategies, publishers can increase the amount of easily measurable pricing trends and viewability metrics, which will strengthen buyer confidence.

Brand Custodian – Decide

There was a time when brand ownership was with 2 parties – The brand itself and it’s one lead agency that used to have the experience and history of building that brand. The sub-challenge here is people are meaning to pay for idea generation from multiple houses. With the collaborative approach, more expertise and content houses that ever, is it confusing the brand? I believe there is still time where the brand decides on this clearly. We need someone who can evangelise the brand in its core essence and that itself helps churn out – ‘in the box’ ideas. I anyway do not understand why people talk about ‘out of the box’!

Before we end, let’s do a quick look at on the type of formats in video advertising. Thought it may help do a quick 15-second refresher so that we can realign our thoughts to think on the lines of ‘Experience’ being the new King, ‘Customer Journey’ being the new Queen and ‘Video’ being the ‘Wazir’ of the new Digital movement. Play it well!

According to the IAB, In-stream is a larger category that includes both non- Linear Video Ads and Linear Video Ads.

Linear - Pre-roll, Post-roll, Mid-roll, Interactive video

Non-Linear - Overlay Video Ads, Non-Overlay Video Ads, Companion Ads, In-Banner Video Ads, In-page Video Ads, In-text Video Ads and Connected TV video ads.

I believe in the next couple of years Connected TV video ads will be the one the industry will be focussing more on. What excites me about this format is that ads in this category can be pre-app, as in they play while the app is loading, or in-app, as in they play like more traditional online video overlays or in-streams like pre-, mid-, and post-roll. Some connected TV ads will display right in an app store or menu and they can then be expanded to full screen takeover. Some connected TV ads will offer more information about the specific programme being watched. Other formats include interstitial (in between channel changes, programme loading, etc.) and interactive search results page ads. Connected TV ads will probably take shape a lot like online video ads have done, but work more toward enhancing the viewer’s experience by offering more relevant information and ads pertaining to the content being viewed.

Ankoor Dasguupta is an ardent learner and coach with 18 years of learning in print, digital and mobile marketing, advertising and operations. At present, Dasguupta is part of the SHEROES family in the capacity of Vice President for Marketing, Events and Brand Solutions.

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