A new service from Dynamic Video is hoping to solve one of the most vexing issues direct marketing and e-commerce retail advertisers face with online video ads. I thought I'd take a moment to talk about why I think this has tremendous potential.
Video Advertising = Motion = Engagement
One of the main reasons that video as an advertising medium is growing so fast has to do with motion. Like motion-sensitive security cameras, our eyes are conditioned to notice motion—even on the periphery—and then almost subconsciously hone in on the source of that motion.
Of course, as with any "rule," there are exceptions. Blinking and scrolling text also create motion that draws the eye, yet both are now considered a nuisance rather than a valid attention-getter. But for now at least, video ads possessing more quality creative are still in good favor with consumers, and will continue to for quite a while.
And advertisers like them too. Video ads on a website trigger that motion-sensitive aspect of our vision, and that leads to more engagement (which, in turn, tends to lead to more conversions).
Targeting = Relevancy = Action
But, for e-commerce retailers and direct marketers in particular, it's not enough to simply create a video ad and start syndicating it across the web. In fact, despite video's impressive ability to grab a user's attention, the development time in creating video ads can result in some of them being obsolete before they even go online.
Another of the interesting things we're learning about video ads is that consumers are much more engaged when the product or service being advertised speaks as closely to their situation as possible. For instance, Sears sells a lot of tools. As a new homeowner, I am in the market for some tools. But a Sears ad that highlights baby strollers and children's books isn't going to attain the level of engagement with me that one focused on Crafstman Tools might (damn those are nice tools).
And the issue of relevance can go deeper than just product type. If your favorite color is blue, and the product featured in the ad is blue, you're more likely to be engaged than if the product were another color. They key is targeting for greater relevance. The more relevant a video ad is to you—or any ad in general, for that matter—the more engaged you are.
There are a lot of ways an ad can be relevant to a viewer—perhaps they share the same need as the one featured in the advertisement. Maybe they identify with the people in the commercial. Maybe they've been thinking about buying whatever you're selling for several days, and the ad came at just the right time of need. Generally speaking, the more you identify with an ad, the more likely you are to buy something after seeing it.
But video ads can be expensive to produce, especially when trying to create video that highlights time-sensitive offers, products, available inventory, etc... Video ads have traditionally took a lot longer from conception to flight than traditional text-based or print ads - leaving retail advertisers with a dilemma. How can I create measurable, cost-effective, and profitable video ads that promote the right products to the right people, even when my inventory, pricing, and catalog is constantly changing?
Where Dynamic Video Comes Into Play
This is the fundamental dilemma that Dynamic Video is trying to solve. What if you could create ads dynamically, on the fly, based on your actual products, real-time price points, as well as the user's actual behavior?
Dynamic Video is primarily aimed at retail businesses (and their ad agencies) that sell many products—the exact type of advertiser that struggles the most with creating high-relevancy ads. When you have 100,000 product SKUs, with new ones being added daily, traditional video ads are simply far too slow to stay current.
Dynamic Video ads are animated ads, with motion, that feature the actual products you sell. The product data is pulled dynamically—product information, thumbnails, sale prices and specials—and then a "video" ad is generated in real time. Essentially, this means that there are potentially thousands of ad variations being pumped out by this one system, all based on the changes to the advertiser's shopping feed.
They just recently worked with Cortica to create a dynamic ad campaign for Shopzilla, which you can see an example of here. Cortica identifies image content on a page that a visitor is viewing, reading, etc, in this case, a page about iPods. Their technology then identifies the image content and extracts relevant key words from this visual content. Then, utilizing those keywords, Dynamic Video creates - on the fly - ad variations with (i) promotions from the Shopzilla API that are relevant to the content/keywords identified by Cortica (ii) images of other similar products, and price comparisons.
My only real misgiving is with the name…Dynamic Video creates rich media ads vs. video ads… at least in terms of the way I traditional conceive of video.
Additionally, I think that it is worth noting that Dynamic Video doesn't actually produce product videos. Rather, Dynamic Video's focus is in creating dynamic, rich media ads that work outside of a product landing page. All that being said, if a retailer has product video footage, it can be mashed up along with other data to create a rich media ad experience. I spoke with Tal Even, VP Marketing and Business Development for Dynamic Video, and he clarified, stating that,
"We should probably be called Dynamic Content, because we take any form of rich media and we infuse that rich media with live data streams - those live data streams can be anything from a product or a price API about promotions and updates or as sophisticated as events, contextual feeds, enhanced targeting, etc... It can be delivered on a customer's site or off a customer's site through any ad campaign or email blast. That being said, we can and do use video footage when available.
Our unique proposition is that every piece of the content is dynamic and we do real-time targeting, testing, and optimization."
That's A Wrap
Overall, I think this is a pretty promising service. It's essentially taking the way that Google's Adsense displays contextually-relevant ads on a page depending on that page's content and applying it to video ads—though I'm sure the technology and the effort behind this service aren't accurately reflected in my over-simplification.
If Dynamic Video can deliver what they're saying they can, then there's every reason to believe they can easily find market share in the rapidly-changing landscape of online video ads.