Monday October 24th || by Matt King

The article below originally appeared in Masterclassing on October 24, 2016. 

The online video market is booming: According to eMarketer, brands are on track to double the amount of money they spend on digital video promotion by 2019. As consumers spend more time on their phones and laptops, brand advertising dollars are shifting from TV accordingly and marketers are looking for the best way to distribute their videos across the web.

Pre-roll advertising may have been the logical first step for brands as they translated 30-second TV spots onto the digital web, but such formats have proved ineffective at actually reaching an engaged audience. Innovative online marketers are instead experimenting with new formats that are “native” to the page, existing side by side with relevant content, rather than interrupting it, while providing value to users and advertisers alike.

In the realm of online video, native has proven to be one of the most powerful advertising channels available to brands, especially as the web gradually becomes not just mobile-first, but increasingly mobile-only. Below are five things every marketer should know about using native video to share their branded stories to engaged audiences across the web.

NATIVE VIDEO REACHES A LARGER POOL OF CONSUMERS THAN PRE-ROLL

One of the biggest limitations to traditional pre-roll advertising is that its scope is limited to sites that have an on-page video module—platforms like YouTube, or specific publisher video verticals (such as NYTimes Video or Reuters TV). Native formats, which dynamically insert relevant videos into the main text column of publisher sites, tap into a much broader pool of online audiences, in some cases making certain groups of consumers available to advertisers for the first time.

INVITATION-BASED FORMATS DRIVE GREATER USER ENGAGEMENT

Online video campaigns are often created to support branding initiatives, whose success depend on their ability to create a positive and memorable impression on consumers. Interruptive formats like pre-roll have suffered from low engagement rates, precisely because they create a less-than-positive experience for users, holding them “hostage” until they can finally enjoy the content they want to see. Alternately, videos that users can watch by choice—such as native—offer a more effective way to engage online audiences, allowing users to opt-in as they please, as they scroll through the main content on the page. Think about Facebook’s native “in-feed” experience: if you see a video that you like, you can stay and watch it; and if you’re not interested, you can keep on scrolling. Native video gives control and choice back to users in the same way.  

NATIVE VIDEO PUTS YOUR BRAND FRONT AND CENTER

The placement of native video within the main column of a page ensures that videos will have not only a higher visibility, but also a greater potential to make an impact with audiences. In particular, native video creates an opportunity for content marketers to share longer stories: While brands can’t distribute a 3-minute video through pre-roll, they can definitely promote that story through native or in-feed placements. These special formats offer advertisers and publishers the opportunity to deliver an on-site experience similar to what Facebook created with its in-feed video product. Marketers can capture audiences’ attention through high-impact, highly viewable placements that then only stay active on the page if a user chooses to engage (and watch the rest of the 3-minute video).

NATIVE PLATFORMS OFFER ROBUST TARGETING CAPABILITIES

Just because native video taps into a broader online audience doesn’t mean that it can’t support finer-tuned targeting as well. The breadth of native platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Taboola provide powerful targeting opportunities, as they can connect brands with a greater variety of target audiences across thousands of partner sites. When it comes to Taboola, which surfaces native placements on top sites across the open web, advertisers can decide to promote their videos on contextually relevant publishers (such as sports or fashion), overlay B2B and B2C customer data, retarget users who have recently expressed interest in a related product or service, promote videos to specific users identified as “video watchers,” and more.

NATIVE VIDEO CAN DRIVE ROI AND BE OPTIMIZED FOR DESIRED ACTIONS

In addition to ensuring that viewers both see a brand’s video and are more actively engaged when watching it, native video campaigns can be optimized towards a desired action or key performance metric. For example, marketers can measure whether someone who clicked on a video ended up buying something afterwards. Native campaigns can also measure other useful metrics such as the amount of time users spend on a page, how they move and interact across the site, or the referral path by which they arrived at the page (for example, from a social recommendation versus organic search results). Advertisers might also assess measurements like “total time viewed” or “click-through-rate” to uncover which creatives or audiences are performing best, then re-allocate their budget accordingly. Such learnings can serve as a kind of market research for brands, enabling them to test different video messages and figure out which are resonating most strongly with audiences.

As consumer attention continues to shift from TV to digital, native video presents a major opportunity for marketers to outmaneuver the competition and promote their story to more engaged audiences across the web. To learn more about how native video can best support your online marketing efforts, send a note to Taboola’s team of in-house video experts at: video@taboola.com.

Matt King

Matt King is a Content Specialist at Taboola. Previously, Matt worked on the Brand Marketing team at global communications firm FleishmanHillard, and his experience includes internships at Walgreens, Diesel, and 5min Media (acquired by AOL). He studied marketing and creative writing at NYU's Stern School of Business.