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Skippy cracks open auto-play video?s potential on Pandora

As auto-play video ads increasingly become the norm on mobile platforms, recent efforts from big brands such as Hormel?s Skippy reflect the importance of experiences that are entertaining and native to the environment. 

Pandora and Facebook were early adopters of auto-play video ads, but with Twitter?s recent introduction, it is clear the tactic?s role is growing. As consumers spend more time consuming content from a mobile device and marketers look for effective ways to engage them, finding the right time, place and feel for auto-play video ads will be crucial for brands. 

?There should be extensive interest from brands around auto-play videos,? said Stevie Dove, director of Social Studio at SapientNitro. ?If they?re not thinking creatively of how to leverage this, they are behind. 

?Most major social platforms are moving toward auto-play with videos, as well as video ads,? she said. ?The connected consumer is mobile ? enabling videos to auto-play in whatever feeds they?re looking at (or listening to) helps get the message across quickly and removes a barrier to entry to ?click.? 

?It makes for a better, more immersive user experience. It?s up to marketers using advertising video ? especially video that?s auto-play ? to create a message that resonates with the audience and makes it something they want to listen to or watch and to feel organic.?

Putting viewers in control
A Skippy auto-play video that appeared recently on Pandora?s mobile experience is part of a multichannel campaign that the brand launched last fall, its first ad campaign in five years. 

The auto-play video appears when Pandora users switch from one station to another and depicts talking peanuts in the Skippy factory, with only the fun peanuts going into a jar of peanut butter. 

At the bottom of the auto-play screen, viewers can see how many seconds remain in the video. Next to the countdown clock is a circle with an arrow, which can be tapped on to get to a campaign landing page.

At any point during the video, viewers can tap through to the landing page where they are urged to explore how Skippy makes everyday snacking more fun. 

The countdown clock and button for tapping through to the landing pages are best practices for helping the consumer to feel in control, which can make them more likely to engage with a brand?s content. 

Entertainment vs. integration
On the interactive landing page, there is an art section where users can draw on the screen with their finger and pick from several frames for their creation and then share it. A fun button displays a silly image incorporating a peanut when tapped. 

?We see huge demand from brands for all forms of video, including auto-play,? said Andrew French, general manager for EMEA at Opera Mediaworks? AdColony division. ?The key to making auto-play work is in the integration.

?A video that fits at a natural content break or as part of a native content feed will provide the best consumer experience and thus the best chance for a brand to influence purchase intent,? he said. 

?Advertising should be fun and engaging and this campaign nails it.?
While entertainment is key for an effective auto-play video ad, marketers should be careful of overloading the experience, which could end up merely distracting viewers and, ultimately, annoying them."

Auto-play video ads should also feel native to the experience of the platform where they are appearing. 

?While the experience is a clever one, Skippy is missing the holy grail of right message, right time, right place that is essential to any successful campaign online,? SapientNitro's Ms. Dove said. ?There are multiple calls to action that distract from why the consumer is on Pandora in the first place - are they really going to be so compelled to stop and create an artistic expression?

?It?s almost as if they?ve jammed as many things for the user to do in the few seconds they have to capture their attention, in hopes they will click on something,? she said. 

?In today?s space, creative agencies and the media agencies must to work together to create an experience that?s going to connect and be truly delightful or valuable to the user, native to the environment the user is already engaged.?

A better way to leverage auto-play video on Pandora might be to make music a more integral part of the experience, as this is what consumers are on the platform for in the first place. 

Auto-play options grow
With growing competition in the music streaming space from Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play Music, campaign such as Skippy?s as well as recent efforts from Chi-Chi?s Salsa, Bank of America and others shows that Pandora is still a compelling proposition for marketers. 

?Pandora has really stepped up its game to make the platform a truly personalized listening experience,? Ms. Dove said. ?With that, they?ve put a ton of effort into maintaining their large user base - total listening hours are still growing - and improving their ad offering. Pandora has one of the best precision targeting out there.

Mobile platforms and brands are gravitating toward auto-play video because of the potential to generate high volume for video plays and views as this is what will drive awareness and other campaign objectives. 
However, the more traditional format of click-to-play videos still makes sense for brands under certain circumstances. 

?Click-to-play video ads now tend to be associated with high-end premium publishers like newspapers, who prefer this format so as not to annoy users,? Stephen Upstone, CEO of LoopMe.

?That said, auto-play is generating significant traction in the market and you can see the industry moving in that direction supported by the success of Facebook's native auto-play video ads in-stream and other auto-play video ads from the big social network apps like Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter,? he said. 

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York