Why Media Planners Are Increasing their Investment in Social Video

A new study by TMB found that 68% of media planners believe that social platforms like Facebook and Snapchat are the most important partners for digital video campaigns. The popularity of social media as an advertising medium has grown significantly, but why?

The short answer, engagement. In that same report, when asked to rank platforms by feature, 59% of respondents said social video delivers higher levels of engagement (only 36% picked video platforms). That’s a 23% difference. Nearly double every other category in the survey.

While digital video platforms like YouTube or video ad network buys through a DSP can provide an advertiser reach, the engagement on those channels isn’t as strong. How often do you press the ad skip button on YouTube? If you’re anything like me, it’s fairly often. In fact, according to some research up to 80% of viewers use the ad skip button on YouTube.

YouTube is still a great option. I must use it nearly every day (and so do a billion other people). But, the experience is more like an archive or library of video content. It works well if I am searching for a specific piece of content, like a how to video, a recent comedy sketch, or popular music video. Given YouTube’s massive audience, it’s been the number one place for digital video advertising for years. Simply because they have the inventory.

Just having an audience doesn’t guarantee ad engagement… According to some research up to 80% of viewers use the ad skip button on YouTube.

Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter have recently made huge investments into digital video. Facebook launched a Watch tab in their app and is releasing original video content that’s similar to Netflix or Amazon Prime. Twitter has been experimenting with video livestreaming and has had big success with events like the election. They now stream live popular financial news from Bloomberg and startup Cheddar. And of course, Snapchat has always been both a mobile and video first experience.

These investments in video content have brought new viewing audiences to these platforms allowing advertisers to leverage the existing ad targeting capabilities of these platforms with video content. It appears that the big gamble on video has paid off. And social media’s potential as a video advertising option now eclipses all others.

But, just having an audience doesn’t guarantee ad engagement. The social video experience is still about conversations. Videos are shared as part of an ongoing dialogue between friends, relatives and acquaintances. They increase the value of conversation. Which is most likely why advertisers see higher levels of engagement. Smart media buyers have already taken note of this and are switching their budgets according.

The engagement bump from reallocating ad dollars is only the beginning. The real performance gains are to be had from breakthrough creative that accelerates these conversations between people and the brand. Innovative campaigns from companies like Hyatt for example use new technologies like Spectacles to both create content and share content. Their careful integration of social video into the campaign is an essential component of its success. Yes, they did also buy a 30-second spot during the Oscars, but they combined that with video shot by employees wearing Snapchat Spectacles.

It’s this unique combination of both the low tech, home video aesthetic with a professional top-tier television commercial that gives the campaign real impact. The images generated by a handheld device or wearable are perceived by consumers as a far more authentic, but it needs to be paired with the credibility that an expensive 30-second spot buy during the Oscars brings. Yes, we all want brands to speak our language, but effective creative campaigns in a social media driven world still need a dash of credibility in order to gain our trust.

Effective advertising has always been about finding unique and creative ways to fit into a conversation. When used correctly, social video can be a powerful marketing tool.

Gregory Kennedy

Director Brand Marketing at Sojern

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