From collaborating with influencers and live streaming to interactive and shoppable content, digital video has made a number of significant leaps forward this year, opening new opportunities for brands to engage shoppers during the holiday season.
Digital video can connect with consumers on an emotional level that helps drive results for marketers, which is why global spending on video advertising has skyrocketed in recent years and is expected to continue to grow rapidly. Making an emotional connection during the hectic holiday season, is especially important as shoppers' attentions are being pulled in many different directions. And with digital video consumption on the upswing thanks to trends like cord-cutting, increased mobile use and the proliferation of hardware devices like the Amazon Echo Look and Google Home Hub, the need for a video strategy that runs the gamut from heartfelt stories to performance-drive snippets is crucial.
"Advertising plays an essential role in helping consumers fulfill their shopping lists. Given that spend on digital video advertising increased by 32% year-over-year to $11.9 billion in 2017 and that spend on mobile video overtook spend on desktop video for the first time ever, mobile video advertising should be a core focus of marketers this year's holiday season," Eric John, deputy director of the IAB Digital Video Center of Excellence, told Marketing Dive.
Savvy marketers will take a lesson from what worked and what didn't last year as they look to engage consumer in 2018. Below is a look at some of the biggest trends in video marketing and how they are evolving as the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear.
Shoppable and interactive videos
Digital video is no longer simply an awareness channel. During the holiday season, more brands will look to make static video ads interactive by adding direct response elements to videos. Advances in rich media and overlay technology are making it easier to create videos that are shoppable while platforms like YouTube continue to enhance shopability on videos. Brands are taking a similar tack as well: Walmart is reportedly working on creating a shoppable video ad format for its Vudu video sreaming platform.
The fashion industry, in particular, will be looking for ways to engage consumers via shoppable videos this season. Last year, apparel brand Levi Strauss & Co. presented a shoppable video on its website for last-minute holiday gift inspiration. "The Holiday Getaway" video, which ran one minute and 45 seconds, had more than a dozen shoppable moments.
"Historically a lot of people have thought about video ads as a very top of the funnel approach to create awareness, but in 2018 a video ad can also be used as a direct response tactic," said Adam Aslatei, vice president of marketing at Jun Group. "We need to widen our approach to video because in today's day and age, a video can literally lead to a purchase."
One way the strategy is likely to be updated this year is by layering on data and personalization to shoppable video. For example, L'Oréal teamed with video platform Innovid to create 2,000 video versions across four Giorgio Armani campaigns that used data-driven overlays to highlight the nearest retailer and pushed viewers to click-through to the retailer's website. L'Oréal saw double-digit growth in CTR, Innovid found.
"Anything that you can do to have the consumer be part of the experience will increase engagement," said Aslatei. "I anticipate we'll see a lot of this during the holiday season. It's about creating immersive experiences and taking the experience and elevating it."
While the holidays have always offered marketers the opportunity to incorporate seasonal themes into their content, the growth in digital video offers a few ways to extend the length of interactions beyond a simple 30-second ad so that brands can be a bigger part of the holiday experience.
Last year, Procter & Gamble brand Old Spice ran a one-hour long advertisement on YouTube promoting its Old Spice Holiday packs. The tongue-in-cheek video starred a static shot of a Yule log in a fireplace, while Old Spice brand pitchman Terry Crews occasionally appears in the fire chanting things like, "Ho, ho, ho — marketing!" before exploding. H&M in 2017 created a short holiday-themed film starring Nicki Minaj to show of its clothes while making an emotional connection.
The big news this year in long-form content is Instagram's IGTV launch, which a number of brands have already jumped on as way to engage the Facebook-owned platform's large audience. One of the first was Mercedes-Benz, which debuted a black-and-white two-minute short titled "The First Drive" in June. With mobile expected to play a bigger role in holiday shopping this year, IGTV is likely to prove one avenue brands will explore.
Short but sweet
Unraveling the mystery of how to pack an emotional punch into a six-second video ad will be a priority for marketers this holiday season. Video ads under 10 seconds developed as a result of the growth in mobile but now can be found on TV, too.
As the shorter format matures, brands are no longer simply cutting down traditional 30-second TV ads, but are developing content specifically for quick engagements. In fact, more than half of marketers and agencies worldwide use six second ads, according to research from Adweek and GumGum.
Despite, the growth in viewership for shorter video ad formats, recent research shows these ads struggle to elicit an emotional response from viewers. Focusing on context is one way marketers can boost the impact for their shorter ads.
Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats earned a spot at the top of YouTube's list of best six-second ads, called bumper ads on the platform, for a holiday campaign that ran last year. By dedicating 90% of its online video spend to targeting people who had already shown interest in Christmas shopping, cooking, toys and travel, the brand found success with a series of six-second ads for a new line of festive mini treats.
"We expect an accelerating trend towards the shrinking ad formats leading progressively down to six second and three second video ads, especially from brands with high consumer awareness," said Seraj Bharwani, chief strategy officer at AcuityAds. "Shorter formats are highly efficient for brands with media retention and recall established from other channels running longer video formats."