One of the big challenges for video marketers is finding the means to track the browser's purchasing intent after their initial video experience, and serve them up with targeted video content even when they visit other websites. According to Michael Benedek, VP of the behavioral marketing firm AlmondNet, This "post-search" phase of video advertising and marketing, where 95% of the browser's activity happens, is "among the hottest and most promising ad-focused areas online."Michael talked with ReelSEO on how their Post-SearchTM ads behavioral targeting program can also work as a video search marketing solution, and possibility a video SEO solution. We spoke with Michael after his presentation at the Search Marketing Expo conference in New York, on the panel, "What's New with Video Search Marketing."
What is "behavioral targeting?"
Michael explains behavioral targeting as the delivery of content or other user experience to a person based on their observed, previous online behavior. Often this is done by implementing a cookie when a person in on a participating site, which then follows the person's browsing activity after that initial point of contact.
The AlmondNet process - how behavioral advertising is done with video ads
AlmondNet, like most other companies in the behavioral targeting space, deals with "behavioral advertising" - where targeted ads are served up based on data gathered from the person's previous online behavior, including search engine queries and referrals.
Here is an overview of AlmondNet's behavioral targeting with search and video:
- A visitor arrives to a website that contracted with AlmondNet.
- Once that visitor demonstrates some form of valuable commercial intent behavior (search, etc) on the site, they have a non-persistent cookie placed on their web browser and their behavior, the date on which the behavior was collected, and the identity of the data-providing site are recorded. (The search query is also placed into one of "40 relevant behavioral categories," which will be used to match the user with targeted video advertising the next time they visit an AlmondNet partner site.)
- The cookie allows AlmondNet and its partner ad networks to identify the user upon the user's arrival within one of AlmondNet's partner ad networks' ad space, thus allowing the ad network to provide the user with a relevant, targeted ad on the video content being watched.
Michael says that AlmondNet's role is to serve as the intermediary, or "trader," between data-owners and media owners to "provide consumers with relevant, privacy-sensitive, 'Post-SearchTM ads' - wherever they go." Websites that owns commercially-monetizable data contracts with AlmondNet to have its data monetized outside its own website.
With privacy and security issues being a major concern for browsers, Michael says that user search behavior is recorded by AlmondNet "only on partner search engine sites and other sites owning purchase-intent data that contract with AlmondNet and provide users with a link to the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) site which includes an opt-out option, and not on other sites where the user happens to browse."
How behavioral targeting, search, and video advertising work together
Consumer behavior and post-search data shows that "advertisers are very much in purchasing mode after they've conducted a search," says Michael. He cites from his presentation an AlmondNet study based on 600 million of their Post-SearchTM ads delivered over a 3-year period which reveals the following data:
- Only 5% of the user experience is spent declaring purchase-intent on search-engine sites. By comparison, 95% of the purchase-intent time is spent in the post-search phase.
- Post-SearchTM ads (i.e., those with behavioral targeting), convert 5x-10x better than non-targeted ads.
- Behavioral advertising can now used for video. AlmondNet's own program includes pre-rolls, overlays, and ads running alongside or surrounding the video player.
The benefit to AlmondNet's customers is their ability to have their behaviorally targeted, ad-supported content sell for much higher CPM rates than unsupported ads, bringing them more revenue and improving the end user's purchase-intent experience.
Video ad example - behavioral targeting with search
Here is an example scenario of a user's video experience without and with behaviorial targeting involved. (The following slides are from AlmondNet's own presentation):
Say person that searched for "health insurance" on a search engine or other website, views video content on a large site or ad network site a few days later...
Viewing an untargeted ad...
Viewing a targeted ad...
As you can see, a health-related overlay ad plays right on top of the video content. Mike explains the delivery of the targeted video ad is enabled either directly or in cooperation with an AlmondNet distribution partner (ad network, publisher, ad exchange, etc.)
Challenges with behavioral advertising, search and video:
- Reach - for it to be effective, the user first has to visit a website that is an AlmondNet partner where they conduct their search; then, they eventually visit a website where the partner ad networks' video advertising actually appears. (According to Mike AlmondNet's cookie on the user's browser platform lasts approximately 45 days before its deleted.)
- Infancy - According to Mark Walsh of MediaPost, "Top social networks such as MySpace and Facebook have introduced behavioral targeting systems to help advertisers zero in on certain audiences, but such efforts are still in an early stage."
- Implementation and Standardization - technical and marketing challenges such as scalability, video player and ad server standardization, and video content categorization (via category-specific tags), are some of the more pressing challenges cited by Michael in his presentation. Michael also says he expects assistance from the Internet Advertising Bureau to eventually clear these hurdles.
- Pricing - behavioral advertising, especially with video, may well be outside the range of small-to-medium size businesses (SMBs) to participate in at the current time.
Can Video SEO specialists benefit from behavioral targeting?
SMBs right now may not be able to afford to do behavioral targeting with video in the AlmondNet program. Fortunately is still much they can learn from it in their current marketing activities with video.
I asked Mike, is the behavioral advertising opportunity with video also an opportunity for SEO specialists? Here was his response:
"Behavioral targeting can be used to provide marketers with information on the types of video of interest to consumers. Using this information, they could, in turn, select videos for the site which they're working on that appeal to consumer interest and select content that would also reflect the video's subject matter for the purposes of optimizing this site's content for search engines."
What behavioral targeting can teach Video Search Marketers - think in terms of "engagement"
So without the benefit of a high-end video advertising platform, SEO's behavioral targeting should relay on their on web and video analytics software. But this also means that Video SEO specialists need to think in deeper levels than just page views, but actual engagement with the video content.
Here is a good example from Eric Peterson, Web and Video analytics specialist and President of Web Analtyics Demystified:
"Marketers working to use video to drive visitor engagement are primarily concerned with the events that occur after the first clip has been viewed, tracking whether visitor click through to the web site, whether visitors watch additional videos, and whether these visitors exhibit different behaviors than the non-video watching population interacting with the site."
So basically, behavioral tracking can teach video search marketers, including video SEO specialists, on paying attention to what happens after the search and the click. This can be done by Video SEO's on two levels:
- Basic, on-site behavioral tracking: utilizing your website video analytics program (Google Analytics as the free version, Overture as a recommended paid version), and measuring event tracking within your video content. This also works very well with funnel activity (where your visitors most commonly start off and end up on your site, all the way up to exiting). When you can see patters and trends with use activity from entry to exit, this will give you a better idea of what video content may be most relevant to their purchasing intent.
- Advanced - off-site behavioral tracking: Setting up your site to implement cookies, which will allow you to follow what the visitor does after they leave your site. Because this can be very complex, an easier way of controlling it is to just go with search engine referrals, and categorize those searches however you wish. So when the visitor returns, you can now serve up the returning visitor to a special landing page with video content (that matches any of your pre-set video categories)
As you can tell, behavioral targeting vendor solutions may be out of reach for most businesses today, but online video marketers and especially video SEO's can learn a lot from how to better optimize websites and video content with do-it-yourself strategies, just by matching search activity with engagement analytics.
Special thanks to Sheffield Marketing for their sponsorship of our SMX East coverage.