Thought Leadership

Taking advantage of a vast new digital canvas

April 27, 2016
By Marketing

Mobile video is no longer the next big thing. It’s the big thing right now. The numbers speak for themselves: 72 percent of mobile data traffic is expected to go towards videos by 2019. And, considering that 5.2 billion people across the world are expected to be mobile users by 2019, that’s going to be an awful lot of traffic. No wonder the mobile video ad spend in the U.S. alone is expected to reach $6 billion in the next two years.

So how do brands and publishers make the most of the mobile video opportunity? It’s, of course, still possible to do things the old fashioned way: to send out an RFP and to make a deal for a specific number of video plays on one specific publisher’s site (for one specific type of screen). But the problem with this approach isn’t simply that it fails to take advantage of time-saving automation — automation that is now available not only for open marketplaces but also for one-to-one deals between publishers and brands. The old way of doing things also fails brands and advertisers interested in mobile video in another fundamental way: It doesn’t take advantage of the vast new digital “canvas” of connected devices.

The Digital Canvas

At the heart of the digital canvas approach to mobile video is an appreciation of an obvious — but too often overlooked — fact: consumers are no longer spending all day on the same device. Rather, they’re moving from device to device and interacting with each device in a unique way.

As recently as a few years ago, the new cross-device era was causing some marketers to panic about how they would reach consumers as they moved beyond the cookie-laden world of desktop. But now that the industry has overcome these technological hurdles and can reliably follow consumers from one device to the next, the cross-device era has been transformed. Rather than being an obstacle, the digital canvas is now a great opportunity to create expansive brand stories that let users watch videos in a variety of different contexts — whether they’re at home, at work, waiting for the bus, or doing almost anything else.

Sequential Advertising in the Digital Age

The real promise of the digital canvas, to be clear, isn’t simply that you can reach consumers on multiple devices. It’s that you can deliver the right message to the right screen and learn more about consumer behavior at each step in the process. The step-by-step process in which a campaign moves from one channel to the next is known as sequential advertising. But, unlike traditional sequential advertising, sequential advertising in the digital age allows savvy brands to gather data as the campaign unfolds and to adjust a campaign in real time.

Take the fictional example of a studio running a video campaign for an upcoming film. The campaign could be designed to target the same consumer with a short teaser trailer in the morning, a full-fledged preview when the consumer is sitting before a desktop at work, and with still another video when that same consumer is relaxing in bed with a tablet.

But now let’s say the campaign doesn’t go exactly as planned. Let’s say the studio learns that consumers are spending much more time watching on phones than expected — as has often been the case. In this scenario, the studio can immediately adjust the campaign and offer the longer trailer on mobile. If the videos are not being watched on desktop, the brand might drop desktop from the campaign or try a different creative — perhaps a more work-friendly clip? Or, if the studio finds, for example, that consumers who watch on a desktop are more likely to order tickets online, these users might also be targeted with display units that direct users to an online ticket vendor. The key is that the studio isn’t simply putting out videos and hoping for the best. It’s learning how the different pieces of the campaign work together.

And this hypothetical example is just the beginning. As the digital canvas extends to wearable devices, connected TVs, and augmented reality, the opportunities for smart sequential campaigns that tailor videos for every device will only continue to grow. It’s without question a new world of advertising. The good news: the digital canvas can cover all of it.

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