Video Marketing: When to Say Yes and When to Say No

This post is a guest post by Cory Henke, Founder and Business Development at Variable Media Agency.

In one sentence for those with short attention spans, Video advertising is not for everyone.

If you decide not to read further, you’re now in the right space of mind when thinking about video.

As an advertiser or marketing professional, we all face that moment when we choose to add video into the media mix or test a new video solution that will be a significant piece of the budget.

In making the decision to launch a video ad, I can’t stress enough how important it is to create useful content that provides value to a consumer through a combination of entertainment, education, and inspiration. Moreover, I would recommend that you test multiple creative and targeting variables if possible while also taking a hard consideration of specifically on YouTube. These variables could be the length or version of a video but could also be a higher income vs. a lower income and even split testing age and gender. Additionally, the power of long form allows advertisers the opportunity to layer in all aspects of a video (education, inspiration, and entertainment) to ensure you are providing value and creating a higher view rate which ultimately lowers your cost per view. Lastly, evaluate and analyze the performance metrics against variables to understand user engagement regarding clicks, views, and conversions.

There are many marketers, companies, and Fortune 1000 companies that have never run a video ad. Think about the many affiliate marketers, multi-level-marketing companies, and many others that could relay a message that was highly effective through articles (native advertising), display and search. While the majority of businesses will be very direct response driven, I honestly believe that a brand can’t come alive without sight, sound, and motion – also known as video, specifically on the YouTube platform. It can be the difference between your company and the competition, and we see this ecosystem heating up all the way down to the local level. Adding another layer to the marketing is social and how viral videos can be on both YouTube and Facebook. Our devices are fragmented which has fractured our viewing habits, and while we run away from every horrible ad experience (Think TV / Display Ads), we do engage with ads on platforms that provide value regarding education, entertainment, and inspiration based on my experience.

Here’s when I think you should consider saying Yes or No to video advertising.

When To Say Yes:

When you have the budget

Don’t half ass it. If you don’t have the funds to create some variation and a good spot with enough media spend behind it, leverage a lower funnel strategy that is more cost efficient from a creative standpoint. These mediums still work very well at scale, however, squeezing your lower funnel can limit your audience increasing your CPA in the long run.

When you need all boats around to rise

Video provides a large halo and effects of this highly effective media goes largely undetected due to the human aspect as well as last click attribution usually sourced to search & display efforts. Brand Awareness, Purchase Intent, and Search Lift can all measured through YouTube TrueView campaigns

When you or your client is curious about creative and video metric testing

There is no better time in advertising to test video. You have multiple platforms, formats, and targeting capabilities to provide an immense amount of information that can be analyzed and optimized to maximize campaign efficiency. Moreover, what you can learn from user cues within the video analytics can be incredibly impacted to your marketing campaigns and business strategy.

When you want to take the brand to the next level

You will not find a better way to increase brand awareness and introduce your product or service than video. Platforms may vary based on budget, target audience, and campaign goals, but who you can reach and the scale attached combined with the programmatic (Real Time Bidding or RTB) environments allows for any advertiser small or large to start today.

When your product needs demonstration

This type of advertiser needs video and what I would recommend is an actual investment into creative, testing strategy, media planning, buying, and optimization. Video capabilities today work the best by providing so much user detail in the viewing habits. This data can help improve the product as well as the story or reasons to believe.

When you’re introducing a product

There’s no better way to introduce a product than video. Just be careful by having your testing and optimization strategy aligned with a great hook to engage users. I’d recommend a combination of the problem followed by a solution to illustrate the value or your product or service. YouTube and Facebook are incredible platforms for product discovery. Facebook is especially useful as you can take advantage of social proof through multiple engagement touch points.

When you’re ready to shake up the media mix

There is no problem in becoming competitive and stepping out on a limb with a media channel like video. Specifically, with the platforms of today, it has never been easier or cheaper to learn if a video can be a valuable media channel for your marketing mix. If we don’t innovate as an industry, we will be cleaned out by our competition and every day is an opportunity to be better than those around you in the race to get in front of a relevant audience.

But it may not be for everyone…

When To Say No:

When there are budget constraints

In building creative specifically for online, and more specifically YouTube, you want to be able to create what you want. And while this is unique to the brand, one must consider that variation for a video advertising campaign is significant and in combination with longer formats for YouTube as well as shorter formats, this could be out of your budget. If you can’t build a video variation or a long enough video that will introduce the product, solve a problem with your brand and then continue with reasons to believe or try, there just might be other online platforms and placements that would generate a better Return on Investment (ROI).

When you are happy with results. Why fix it, if it isn’t broken?

Another reason to not test video will be if everything is running smoothly. Video creates a large halo and is very difficult to compare on a Cost Per Action (CPA) basis or ROI standpoint to search and display in most cases. Essentially if the core Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is sales and conversions, thus everything is delivering, then my suggestion would be to continue with the current efforts and wait to put your dollars into video.

If you’ve tested video in the past on YouTube, Facebook, and other platforms

If past performance holds true and no new creative is present, this could be an opportunity to cut your losses. However, there are always new targeting and ad format opportunities on both Facebook and YouTube    so I believe you should always be testing, but in some cases, an additional inefficient channel isn’t worth it to your overall marketing objectives.

When you do not have the capability to analyze and optimize the results

Due to the cost and ROI of running a video advertising campaign, optimizations and data review needs to happen almost immediately. We must remember that YouTube is a dynamic real time bidding (RTB) platform with increases and decreases of competition usually surrounding seasonality and taking advantage of this can be the difference between a mediocre and successful campaign. If analysis is lacking or you can’t slice the variables by device, demographic, and targeting, you will end up spending and sending your ads to people that will not meet your goals

When the person buying your media isn’t Google AdWords Certified with a Video specialty

I’ve found that AdWords professionals and others not familiar with video treat it like their specialty – either search, display, social, or traditional advertising – which can in some cases cause a problem. For example, in search, landing page quality has a huge impact on score and rank while landing pages are not or have a small impact on your video quality score. What matters to your score for video is ad engagement and view rate. These algorithmic differences have a huge impact and would always recommend working with someone who is experienced in the video space.

When it just doesn’t feel right

What I found in my experience is that running a successful video campaign is very similar to creating a successful video. The preparation from a pre-production or pre-campaign standpoint is vastly important and has a huge impact on how all other pieces after that fall into place for success. Starting to create, edit, buy, manage, optimize, and analyze a video campaign is a multitask, multi-person effort but could have a large impact for your brand. And when you compare it to smart ads where you take a few headline, description, images, and a logo and are up and running within 10 minutes you find a significant difference when compared.

 When you transition your video from one platform to another

Last but not least is the issue I see happen most often. When you transition your YouTube creative to Facebook or, even worse in my experience, from TV to YouTube or Facebook, please optimize the video. If you take anything away from this article, please build all your creative for the platform the user will engage with. I explain this by looking at YouTube as a lean-back platform and Facebook lean-forward here.

Critical to the conversation when thinking about video must be the end user. What we know today more than any other day prior is the power of video based on the data that we have access to calculate. Previously we could assume the impact, but today we are aware. While each advertiser must take precaution today when it comes to development and implementation as our industry improves, even more, users are making video consumption a higher priority. We will see competition, quality, and performance improvement. If not prepared or equipped today, be prepared for tomorrow by testing the most powerful medium on the web when ready.

About the Author:

In addition to consulting for a variety of small to mid-sized advertising agencies, Cory Henke founded Variable Media in early 2017 and currently handles all business development, client growth and decision making. He writes and presents on a variety of topics each month about YouTube, Facebook, and the growing social landscape from a paid media perspective. He brings over ten years of experience, beginning on the direct response agency side at ID Media under the IPG Holding umbrella before obtaining publisher experience at Yahoo! working with Fortune 500 brands in both the Los Angeles and San Francisco offices. Before launching Variable Media, Cory led the media & analytics department for Molio Inc., a pioneer in the YouTube advertising space combining creative & media analysis to understand, improve, and scale social video campaigns.