OPINION: Online video addresses its challenges

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James Zipeure, chief operating officer of VeNA, details recent advancements in video advertising, including two crucial capabilities: Performance measurement and mechanisms to ensure placement on only ‘brand-safe’ sites.

It’s been a fruitful time for online video. Across Asia-Pacific, video advertising is now worth around $1.5 billion, with estimates of 19 per cent compound annual growth over the next four years.

This growth rate will intensify as companies like Samsung increase their investment in IPTV operations and content. Recent deals with content distribution channels like Blockbuster will allow the company to become a new media player as well as a hardware supplier. Even more important, telcos will decrease barriers to entry through cheaper pre-paid services and new smartphones coming to market with faster download times.

Add in increasing pressure from consumers to deliver quality and live broadcast content, and this arena will become a key battleground over the next 24 months. The possible outcomes, though, are all positive. Strong growth will not only position video as an increasingly important platform for content developers and advertising businesses alike, but also help it combat escalating TV development and advertising costs—delivering in quantity what has already been proved to be a worthwhile contender.

But as the attraction of online video accelerates, so will advertisers’ and agencies’ questions around two absolutely key aspects of contention: performance and safety. Our industry must be in a position to answer these questions if we expect to see TV dollars move across to online video. As we have seen across the globe, technology is taking the guesswork out of the equation and fast-tracking the shift in buying patterns through real-time analytics and deep transparency across ads, content, viewers and performance.

It has been a potent criticism of online video that campaigns can easily drift into environments that are not appropriate to the brand. This issue has escalated immensely with growth of performance over the past four years and, more recently, audience-based buying for video. Up until very recently the capability did not exist to control online campaigns and guarantee that no elements would be directed to inappropriate sites.

So much has changed in a short time, like so many things digital. New technology available recently through the likes of VideoHub now lets us pick up not just text, but also content frame by frame, on any site. This means a site is electronically scrutinised for its suitability before an ad is served, allowing this technology to bring the digital industry complete confidence that we are not only delivering quality premium content but doing everything possible to protect and position brands appropriately within this unique environment.

So with accuracy of our online campaigns now ‘Under new management’, we must turn our attention to the other critical metric—performance. Even with numerous methods of measuring online interaction, none of these are comparable with the data developed by commercial TV companies which, right or wrong, have spent decades fine-tuning and marketing their leadership of the media stratosphere.

Greater emphasis must be placed on real-time analytics taking the guess work out of the effectiveness equation and fast-tracking the shift in buying patterns through real-time optimization and deep transparency across ads, content, viewers and performance. Comparable measurements are gaining traction, enabling not only digital geniuses to achieve greater understanding of what needs to be achieved, but also the people who sign off on the budgets—the clients.

The old methods are not dead, just being reinvigorated into a plausible structure. Video has seen extraordinary growth this year, but like any new medium we are still playing catch up, in particular financially where the video market versus broadcast TV is still very much undervalued comparable to its volume.

There is certainly some work to do, but we are getting there very quickly.

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