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Doubleclick study: Internet video works

May 28th, 2007

A major study of 2006 online video ad campaigns reveals what a lot of us knew from first hand experience: video trumps text and static graphics.

As useful as this stufy is on one level, ultimately I’d file the study as an example of  "interesting, but missing the point."

First, the interesting part…

The Doubleclick study found that 8% of online video ads generated a measureable user action.

These actions include things like making the video window bigger, altering the video controls, and clicking through to the advertisers landing page.  The most common response was hitting the "replay" button which which the study found takes place in .32%  all impressions.

The study found that, all things being equal, the clickthrough rate for video ads is five times the clickthrough rate for static image ads.

Imagine that. Five times.

The first question that should come to our minds when we see a number like this is "Will this last or are we experiencing a novelty effect which will wear off?" After all, when banner ads were first introduced, they had a much higher clickthrough rate than they do now.

It’s impossible to predict, but at this point I’d guess that the ratio is going to hold steady. In other words, video ads are going to generate significantly more interaction and clickthroughs than static display ads.

However, there will be radical performance differences among videos and those differences will be determined by two things:

1) How well the video is "sold" and

2) How well the video is designed to stimulate a measurable action

These are two skills that direct response advertisers already excel at and traditional Madison Avenue advertisers are generally pretty clueless at. That would include most advertisers who buy banner ad impressions and are happy merely with measuring impressions and clickthroughs.  Their goal is "brand awareness."

Brand awareness makes sense if: 1)  you’re a Pepsi or Toyota and people are already buying what you sell (soft drinks, cars), 2) there’s a well established retail structure for what you sell (supermarkets, car dealers) and 3) you can’t, or choose not to, sell direct to the consumer and can afford the very heavy freight of a brand awareness campaign.

The problem is that the brand awareness model does not work at all for the vast majority of small businesses. Unfortunately, not being aware of the direct response model, they try to emulate what the "Big Boys" are doing and get smashed in the process. 

Small businesses must be response advertising driven which means that every ad – every ad – is designed to generate a measuable action…and not just any measurable action (video replays, changing window size), but actions that are part of the buying process. 

All that really matters when buying is the issue is:

1. How many saw the video?

2. How many played it?

3. How many people clickthrough to the full ad?

4. How many people who did that opt-in or bought?

The Doubleclick study didn’t bother to look at these numbers because their customers, big "brand awareness" advertisers, aren’t asking for them.

But you should and you should do your own "studies" with your the numbers of your own business. That’s the surest way there is to turn Internet video into a money machine.

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. I’ve collected some of the best, most immediately practical articles from this blog into a free report which you can get by going to this web site:  http://www.internetvideomarketingletter.com

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  1. May 28th, 2007 at 09:00 | #1

    Great insight as usual.
    The list of four critical questions at the end really is the key. Metrics on any ad are all too often underutilized if collected at all.
    The design of an ad needs to take all of those pieces into account starting in the design phase.
    For many smaller marketers this seems like a heck of a lot of work to do on something that may not pan out. The reality is, if you don’t test and track then you never really know what works and what doesn’t (Read as: you never really know if the money you are spending is worth spending).
    I also agree that the jury is still out in terms of for how long video ads will remain effective. Yes, there may be an element of novelty involved which is fueling the current results. However, the key to an ad of any sort working is how well it speaks to the viewer.
    If communication is designed properly and care is taken to put the right ad in front of the right target market then the success potential is so greatly increased. If you want to speak to a viewer then video is just one step removed from being able to speak to them live. With good content and execution… how could it not work?
    Thanks again Ken.
    Sam Knoll

  2. May 28th, 2007 at 09:03 | #2

    Measurability and accountability are the backbone upon which all effective advertising is built. Until recently, however, most video based marketing systems did not deliver on this very important point.
    A new video delivery system, which launches the last week of May/07, has taken this weakness head-on and delivers not only DVD quality video on a dial-up connection… but does so with a very sophisticated tracking system which tells you:
    1. If the video was viewed
    2. If it was re-viewed
    3. If it was shared with anyone
    4. Who it was shared with
    This is exactly the type of powerful video marketing platform that savvy marketing people have been asking for.
    If you would like additional information on this new system, please feel free to email me at: thom@e-comprofits.com
    Thom Reece

  3. May 28th, 2007 at 10:14 | #3

    The danger is that too many badly made videos (not just technically badly-made, but bad in terms of not being focused on the needs and desires of the target audience)will reduce the audience’s willingness to press the ‘play’ button. This is where branding will come back in: branded videos that deliver good conception, writing, and production will stand out from the pack.
    And thanks for your consistently useful information and viewpoints.
    Jurgen Wolff

  4. May 28th, 2007 at 10:24 | #4

    The one part of your blog above that I hope people will really catch on to was
    “1) How well the video is “sold” and
    2) How well the video is designed to stimulate a measurable action”
    …there is definitely no shortage of “How to make money with video”, but from what my clients tell me, none of which mention how to produce the content, which is the base for what leads to everything else.
    Yes, the direct response method for small businesses is also very true. The one thing I love about the positioning I have took with online where I actually produce the video content (I produced and edited direct response marketing and promotional videos as a career before I ever got online) is that all of my clients and customers REALLY get that part. All of the internet entrepreneurs and marketers I work with curtail the concept and vision of their video with this in mind even with alternative call-to-action endings for different marketing purposes.
    Thanks for the stats Ken, this is all great information to share with fellow marketers.
    All the best,
    Scott Lundergan

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