The latest round of brand safety concerns highlight the need for a diverse digital video strategy more than ever before. In the rush for scale and reach, has the ad industry become overly reliant on user-generated content (UGC) or social media platforms?
While these platforms undoubtedly play an important role in any video marketing plan, advertisers need to be mindful of their exposure to social content, which is inherently harder to police. Marketers need to ensure they have a good mix of both UGC and professionally generated and curated content from premium publishers in their video media strategies.
Professionally generated content offers advertisers a lot of advantages. For a start, ads appearing on contextually relevant, premium sites lead to higher rates of engagement. Recent research by Unruly found that video ads placed on thematically similar sites delivered improved engagement rates of up to 13% (vs. non thematically similar sites), while consumer research company Neuro-Insight found that premium sites offered levels of engagement 16% higher than social media platforms, according to MediaPost.
A study earlier this year by Nielsen also highlighted the importance of context - their findings indicated that context has a meaningful impact on a brand’s campaign performance - in some cases positively shifting brand metrics by up to 50%.
With trust in digital advertising at rock bottom, having your branded content seen in the context of a premium, trusted media brand delivers real value. Consumers perceive brands that advertise in premium environments as trustworthy (net agreement 115% higher for premium vs. UGC platforms - source Unruly and MetrixLab), while video ads that run on trusted news titles are 43% more likely to deliver market share growth, according to Newsworks.
This by no means detracts from the importance of audience targeting - which remains paramount, but there is a growing body of evidence that suggests combining audience targeting with contextual relevance on trusted sites delivers the best performance.
Moreover, the formats used to deliver video ads in premium environments offer consumers a better user experience. Research by the Washington Post, for example, has found that outstream formats are less intrusive than pre-roll, with 40% of consumers polled rating outstream as non-intrusive vs. just 13% for pre-roll, according to Unruly Insight. An added benefit of outstream formats is that they circumvent problems associated with UGC, as they’re not dependent on pre-existing video content. They also deliver better viewability and lower non-human traffic rates. Unruly analysed Moat data from video campaigns in 2017 and found the average viewability rates for outstream formats was 21% higher that the Moat global norm, while the average non-human traffic rate was 33% lower.
With US brands alone losing $6.5 billion to ad fraud in 2017, says a study by Marketing Week, the need for third party verification has never been more evident. Metrics like viewability and non-human traffic rates will become increasingly important as more and more marketers follow P&G’s lead by demanding higher levels of transparency from their vendors.
Earlier this year, P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard stipulated the $4 billion-a-year advertiser would only work with companies who have received Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) Fraud seal after December 1. This has led to the number of companies going through TAG’s anti-fraud certification process doubling since April 2017 - with 26 new seals being awarded to brand safety-conscious players, including Unruly. An additional 120 companies are still going through the process of receiving the seal - a clear indication that the industry has woken up to the need for external verification.
Hopefully 2018 will see UGC and social platforms following suit - introducing more moderation and additional layers of security to offer scale without compromising brand safety.
Unruly MD Ricky Chanana