What exactly is "social video advertising?" Is it better than traditional online video advertising? What are the ways to optimize a social video advertising campaign? To help answer these and other questions, I enlisted the expertise of Dan Greenberg and Chris Schreiber of the social video marketing company, Sharethrough.
What Is "Social Video Advertising?”
Toreally do justice to understanding what social video advertising is about takes a intellectual framework for understanding how people are motivated to both create and share video. For a proper explanation, I've asked the folks at Sharethough to help me out, and this is what we've managed to come up with:
Advertising is generally understood as the business mechanism and expertise for drawing attention to something or someone (usually oneself). When any kind of paid transaction or paid program is behind the push for attention, traditionally we refer to this activity as "advertising." That leads me to offer the following definition for social video advertising:
Social video advertising involves a push to intentionally draw attention to a video or video campaign (and it's product, service, solution, event, etc.) in a public medium in order to promote one or more conversion goals (views, shares, leads, sales, attendance, or some other form of engagement).
"Social video advertising is an opportunity for video advertisers to engage with audiences in a new and social way," says Dan Greenberg, CEO of the social video marketing company and ad distribution platform, Sharethrough. "You can think of social video advertising as paid media optimization, which done successfully will go viral and become 'organic' with earned (free) attention… It's about thinking how to have paid media drive earned media; how you get consumers to actually embrace your video content as part of their social lives, and share it with others.”
Social Video Advertising is Ultimately about Sharing
Sharing Emotions – "Sharing feelings is a basic human need," says Schreiber. "If your videos capture an emotion that resonates with its audience, users will share it, because they are not just sharing your content — they are sharing the feeling your video has created. This is one of amazing things about social media for brands - sharing allows brand content to become a vehicle for human connection.”
Sharing Identity and Self Expression – "When you share something, you're saying, 'This is who I am,'" he continues. "From the books we read and the movies we recommend, to the bands on our Facebook profiles, the content we share online increasingly defines our personality to our friends. For brand videos to trigger sharing the message needs to be clear and it needs to be something people will want to align themselves with, whether it's a reflection of their humor, fashion sense, tech-savvy or popularity. If people don't want their friends associating a video with their identity, they won't share it.”
Sharing Information – According to Schreiber, "People are hard-wired to teach and learn. Online video is one of the most creative and effective ways to share information; and videos that include genuinely new and interesting information get shared."
Sharing Reciprocity – This one is actually my own addition. I've found from my own experience when someone is actually willing to create and/or share a video, there may come an expectation for their efforts to be rewarded or reciprocated in some fashion. Starting a conversation with video, or participating in one with a video, is expected to highlight one's own extra effort over a text entry, and may either come with an increased likelihood of receiving a response or some other form of communication or reward.
Video by its very nature is "social." It brings up strong emotions, it gives others a feel for one's identity and expressiveness, and many of us learn better when video is incorporated. When we engage with a video, we feel more inclined to share in return. By understanding the Internet culture of sharing, and the impact video can have, we find ourselves in a much better position to know what type of video to create and how to market it. Which brings us to the next question for businesses…
Why Should You Care About Social Video Advertising?
Dan explains that the reason to care about social video ads are that more brands are seeing a competitive advantage to including a social strategy in their video advertising. "Video content is one of the most powerful mediums for driving brand engagement and user sharing today, and will continue to grow as an advertising market" says Dan.
Here are some statistics and claims that Sharethrough has cited on it's own Website for why the social aspect is becoming almost crucial to have today with doing any video advertising:
- Users are more engaged with friend-endorsed content; and people heavily share videos they find interesting with friends.
- Video engagement drives purchase intent. People who watch a video are more likely to purchase what is being offered, than something without any video.
- Word-of-mouth: Over 81% of users search internet word-of-mouth when making purchasing decisions; and video reviews are becoming more prevalent in being found in search engine results, along with ease-of-sharing.
- Growing views: The Internet measurement firm Visible Measures reported social video ad campaigns generated more than 2.7 billion views in 2010, up from 820 million in 2009.
- Increased investment: "YouTube has a sponsored videos marketing that's doing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue." says Dan. "We now have agencies that work in our space that are created specifically for branded content. I.e., they simply create the content, and not to do the media buying or distribution technology. "If you count the creative agencies and ad agencies and publishers who are dedicated to this space, I'd say it's already a billion-dollar market and growing.”
Social video is certainly a step ahead of the display (pre-roll) ad market, but still a step behind in spending. Dan estimates the social video ad market to be at a billion dollars, compared with the pre-roll ad market estimated at a billion-and-half dollars. However, Dan forecasts increasing spending in social video advertising as brands become more willing to accept the consumer culture online becoming more and more about sharing.
"As the industry grows, the best way to distribute a piece of (video) content is to find the people who care to watch it, choose to watch it, and them empower them to share with their friends." says Dan. "That's the definition of a viral video, really: If someone watches it, then they just feel compelled to share it.”
Social Video Ad Optimization
Dan and Chris say that Social video advertising can be distinguished from conventional ad units (such as pre-roll video ads, display video ads, and overlay ads in a video) from both the type of creative (i.e., the original video work) and engagement (how one manages to occupy, attract, or involve one's attention), by stressing the following areas:
- Content, not ads
- Views, not impressions
- Shares, not clicks
"These three areas cover the creative assets, distribution mechanisms and KPI's that make social video advertising distinct," says Dan. "Along each of these categories there are opportunities to optimize campaigns for best possible performance.”
Dan Greenberg and Chris Schrieber are the CEO and Director of Marketing for Sharethrough, a social video advertising platform and distribution network. Sharethrough provides advertisers with repeatable, scalable and transparent approach to distributing creative brand video content that guarantees reach and maximizes shared engagement. "From viral videos to webisodes to tv ads, we take the uncertainty out of building engaged audiences for brand content.”
Check out Sharethrough's impressive list of social video ad campaigns and social video ad case studies with well-known brands, including The Gap, LEGO, Chevrolet, Muscle Milk, Activision, and Orbit gum (shown below).
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