For the first time ever, our popular PLAY customer conference this month arrived in London. Hot on the heels of the opening conference in Boston, the London leg of the tour saw experts and influencers from across the European video industry descend on the U.K. capital to debate industry trends and share best practices.
One presentation, in particular, that sparked lively debate was a panel session exploring the evolution of monetisation via video advertising. With digital advertising continuing to show double-digit growth, our panel of experts, from the likes of Google and the Mail Online, sat down to discuss the impact of video on an industry worth more than £3 billion per annum.
Thanks to its remarkable growth from the outset, online video advertising was initially viewed as an upstart, set to take money away from TV advertisers, as battle lines were drawn between buying teams. In reality, the world of video monetisation is not so clear cut. There's no denying TV is a different breed to digital. One offers a lean-back experience, while the other is notably "lean-in," allowing greater targeting per the individual, thanks to the rich datasets that digital can unlock.
But, as Google's video specialist, Robert Curwen, highlighted at PLAY London, the likes of Sky AdSmart and its U.S. counterparts are blurring the TV/digital line with the onset of household targeting. Indeed – according to the PLAY panel of experts – digital and TV are not in competition. Matthew Wheatland from the Mail Online, Videoplaza's Oscar Wall and Yoav Arnstein from LiveRail were in agreement with Google's Curwen that digital is actually an amplifier for TV, repeatedly guiding the viewer back to the brand.
Ultimately, they noted, the aim is for one unified video buying team that can buy video campaigns, rather than individual platforms. Here are a few more of their observations:
- Measurement is the "Holy Grail" – The opportunity to access better targeting data is great news for advertisers looking to boost ROI and cut waste. But how do they measure it? Our panellists agreed that measurement is the "Holy Grail" for advertisers, because it enables them to prove the success of the campaign. In April, the IAB in the UK gave the green light to a set of industry standards for measuring views in display ads, which paves the way for tackling the challenges of proving ROI. Video is obviously more difficult to measure, as there are different metrics to look at, such as at what point is the video classed as viewed, and many are still being agreed.
- The future is "Programmatic" – One of the most pertinent buzzwords in video advertising is "programmatic," – the data-driven buying and selling of advertising space – something that could help address the growing need for effective measurement. Unlike other forms of automated advertising, programmatic trading is being embraced by buyers, and publishers too are beginning to jump on the bandwagon. Its success lies in its ability for the user of the platform to retain control of their content, and – when part of an integrated video campaign – advertisers can track delivery across both TV and online. As Wall noted, programmatic is the future of advertising, but everyone within the ecosystem needs to sign up for it to be really effective.
- More challenges ahead – For Wheatland, as a publisher, his biggest challenge for the next year is mobile video. And he's not the only one to recognise this, with Facebook having announced it's expanding its TV-like video advertising across UK, France and Germany, in a bid to ease access to mobile audiences. This can only be good for video advertisers, as demand for quality inventory grows.
Video advertising has come a long way since it first appeared on our TVs, and as its influence in the digital space grows across the next 12 months, we're in for an interesting ride. Ultimately, advertising can only be as successful as the supply of available inventory, and crucially – as Arnstein stressed – recognising what's "good" quality video and what isn't will be key for advertisers to succeed.