This column originally appeared at MarTech Advisor on November 2, 2018.
We’ve come a long way from when I first started in digital media. During my time at Yahoo!, advertisers were still resistant to shifting to digital in fear of losing traditional TV budgets. Now, advances in programmatic buying, artificial intelligence, and measurement have driven the industry forward, and digital is in a pole position, helping to more effectively connect brands and consumers online.
But there’s still a long way to go. In particular, there’s plenty of work to be done to take full advantage of the opportunity presented by video and specifically, by video-dominant domains like YouTube and Facebook. Agencies have made the shift to digital, but now we’re facing our next challenge: the industry must reorient itself around video.
Let’s Read The Writing On The Wall
Despite changing consumer behavior and all of the associated technological advances, many agencies are still not set up to accept the video revolution — and aren’t approaching it holistically or strategically. Belying the great strides in technology and advertising over the past several years, many marketers are still primarily utilizing a technology that was invented in 1969 — the spreadsheet — for planning purposes. While ubiquitous and dependable, spreadsheets are far from capable of handling the vast scale and dynamic nature of managing and reporting on digital video in this age of data oceans.
Additionally, many agencies still silo their teams by digital channel — one handles YouTube, another social/Facebook, another still buys on Connected TV — and rarely is there a video-only team. Despite supporting the same client, these siloed teams will often have separate media budgets — even though they are addressing the same audiences, and working against toward the same end goal. When teams are siloed, there’s an inevitable gap in knowledge sharing between teams — successes and best practices aren’t always repeated, but work often is. And media dollars are rarely — or easily — adjusted between marketing channels to chase performance. Across Adland today, you’ll find agency teams are inevitably dependent on outdated tech, channel-specific results, and native advertising tools built for those channels — all of which fail to empower agencies to maximize success for their clients.
So How Can Marketers Do Video Better?
As important as digital video is to consumers now, marketers have lagged far behind in addressing this fundamental change. Here are some basic steps marketers can take to catch up quicky:
1. Video First: Video can no longer be bolted on to marketing strategies — agencies need to entirely reorient their thinking, and make video their true north. In the past, the industry struggled to reprogram itself to become digital-first. But today, agencies must think video-first. It’s the fastest-growing medium in the marketplace, offers high performance against brand KPIs, and reaches audience eyeballs at a massive scale. With video swelling to 25% of U.S. digital ad spend, and the duopoly (soon to be triopoly with the addition of Amazon) driving the lion’s share of ad growth, marketers can ride the wave of investment and remain competitive by making video the core of their strategy.
2. No More Silos: Instead of siloing the teams that are managing campaigns across the two major sources of audience growth — YouTube and Facebook — agencies should innovate by bringing all of their video teams under one digital roof, and use sophisticated technology to drive video success at scale, all while minimizing waste. The complexity and dynamism of digital video demands that agencies adapt — after all, when siloed media teams are analyzing and managing performance through divergent metrics or tools, it can be difficult to properly identify opportunities, assess results consistently and move fluidly to achieve their client’s business objectives. Agencies must bridge the gaps between media teams, and empower them to collaborate. Together, they can develop and share the best practices, targeting parameters and video strategies that maximize performance for clients across video holistically — rather than starting from scratch with each campaign and with each platform.
3. Take Ownership of Your Technology: It’s critical that agencies adopt sophisticated technology that can objectively determine where their video investment will drive the most impact. By equipping their newly-unified teams with software that maximizes KPIs across major video domains, agencies can reduce media waste, and drive efficiency. Sophisticated technology can help marketers more easily and more precisely isolate the right consumers for their advertising strategies, and can deploy machine learning to optimize thousands of times throughout a campaign flight across all platforms — managing the campaign holistically rather than assessing results platform by platform, based on the results that platform reports through its native tools. By utilizing real-time data across video domains through technology and machine learning, agencies can accelerate their video acumen and, in turn, drive better business results for their clients.
The three tactics recommended above will result in a more effective video strategy and one that’s better prepared for marketing’s video-first future. Agencies must continue to demonstrate their value to the brands they represent by always evolving and taking the next steps to driving performance and efficiencies — and agencies can showcase that value through the effective and intelligent deployment of a video-first mindset.
Innovation is always happening, and agencies must uncover the solutions and platforms that best fit their businesses to empower them to scale. Otherwise, they’ll be left knocking on the doors of former clients, begging for their business back.