Online Video Advertising: Tips For More Effective Targeting & Measurement


ADOTAS — Online video advertising is rising at an unprecedented rate, and not just because services like Hulu and Netflix are enabling streaming entertainment online. Video advertising is taking off because brand managers are realizing the positive impact that video can have on their ability to attract and engage with consumers, and lead them through the purchase cycle. Research from comScore recently found that the number of Americans who viewed video ads in 2012 doubled to 11.3 billion, and that number is expected to continue doubling every two years. That’s an incredible incentive for brands and retailers to consider online video advertising.

Consider two critical components when integrating online video into your advertising campaigns: dynamic targeting and measurement. Although consumer demand for online video is persuading more and more advertisers to implement these types of campaigns, equally important to the decision is knowing how to adjust targeting and measurement strategies accordingly.

Dynamic Targeting

Effective targeting for online video ads must go beyond traditional demographics such as age and income. Online video campaigns need to consider a host of other criteria to maximize effectiveness.

  • Device type: An HD video ad played on an iPhone will perform very differently than on a BlackBerry. Device type needs to be considered as a part of the targeting strategy for online video, ensuring content is optimized, in real-time, based on the specific attributes of a device and technical capabilities.
  • Geo-location: Each user’s specific location can now be detected in real-time, so that the appropriate location-aware ad can be served. Location-based content is received much better, with an overwhelming 80 percent of mobile users preferring ads that are locally relevant. In fact, three-quarters of those consumers have taken action in response to a location-specific ad, according to a recent JiWire study.
  • Behavioral targeting: Using first and third party behavioral data to dynamically target users allows marketers to finely tune the message based on specific actions, for example, to incent a visitor that has placed an item in the cart but never checked out, or target a visitor that has interacted with your competitor.
  • Contextual targeting: Presenting an ad that is contextually appropriate to the content on the page being viewed can yield dramatically higher conversion rates. For example, if someone is looking up recipes for spaghetti and meatballs, a contextually appropriate ad for marinara sauce could appear on the page. The person viewing the page is more likely to click on the ad and complete the call to action if it is specifically relevant to what they are researching or reading at that moment.
  • Dynamic creative optimization: Of course, the more finely a marketer targets specific segments or visitors, the more creative options that are needed.  Leading-edge marketers are using the dynamic capabilities of Flash and HTML5, for example, to create and deliver customized versions of creative templates in real-time, eliminating the need to build hundreds or even thousands of ad templates. Flashtalking, an intelligent ad server specializing in dynamic messaging for advertising, personalizes Flash and HTML5-based display ads in real-time based on both user attributes and page context. This type of dynamic, contextual campaign drives greater ROI because it reaches the consumer on an individual level.


Measuring goals and brand sentiment is critical for any advertising campaign. A comprehensive measurement plan incorporates both traditional and social engagement metrics. For online video, there are several metrics to consider:

  • Views: The most obvious metric to measure is how many people viewed your video. This is easy to calculate, as most popular video platforms include view counts as a sidebar, much like YouTube.
  • Completions: This goes a step beyond views and measures how many people actually watch the video from beginning to end. Online video ads sometimes have an opt-out feature once a viewer passes a certain portion of it. By measuring how many people watch the entire video, brands have greater insight into how engaging the content is for their audience. Low completion rates are often a sign of flat content, or that it is marketed toward the wrong audience.
  • Click-through rates (CTRs): These rates measure the people who were engaged enough to take the next step and answer a call to action. CTRs could be a link at the end of the video or during the video that they clicked on, which brings them to the brand’s website or a landing page associated with the video content.
  • Conversions: When implementing a video advertising campaign, set goals. Goals can range from the number of sign-ups for an email list, opting into a trial offer, etc. Be sure to establish concrete goals at the beginning as a benchmark to measure the success of a campaign.
  • Shares: For ads that are intended to go viral on social networks, shares should be measured to gauge the social presence of the video. This metric should incorporate how many people Tweeted the article, liked it on Facebook, or shared it on LinkedIn or Google Plus, among other social channels. Encouraging social shares and making it easy to share will help advertisers reach their goal of going viral.
  • Impressions: Lastly, impressions measure the actual reach of the video. This includes those who viewed the video, but also incorporates the social reach. Impressions calculate the followers of those who shared the video via their social networks. This number provides a more macro understanding of a video’s reach.

YouTube’s mobile video ad sales recently tripled in six months, proving that advertisers are catching on to the value of this channel. The right video content can have a significant impact on a brand or retailer’s bottom line if it engages the right audience. Critical to that success is leveraging advanced, dynamic video targeting and measuring capabilities to adjust content in real-time and improve performance. Consumer demand for online video content will continue to grow. Advertisers that monetize their online video will reap the benefits as more consumers interact with their brands-of-choice throughout the purchase cycle. The next time video advertising makes its way around the brainstorming table, keep these points in mind to drive the most ROI for your campaigns.


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