Do consumers prefer personalised advertising? Is delivering a highly targeted and more relevant pre-roll ad the way forward? And are more brands turning to smart video ads? 

We caught up with Jim Dicso, the New York-headquartered chief revenue officer for SmartVideo provider, SundaySky.

The business, which also has a technology hub in Tel Aviv, generates hundreds of thousands of SmartVideos daily, and works with brands such as Vodafone, Dell, lenovo and eBay.

Q: From pre-roll ads and personalised customer bills in ‘SmartVideo’ form, to retargeting and supporting ad campaign videos, what are the top three most popular uses for SundaySky’s SmartVideo Advertising?

Jim Dicso: 1. SmartVideo for Delivering Bills: Video bill has proven to deliver a positive customer experience while deflecting and reducing the duration of billing-related calls (and costs). In fact, the top five cable providers and four of the top six wireless providers in the US, as well as several of the largest telcos in Europe are all delivering video bills as part of their customer care initiatives. 

2. SmartVideo Advertising: Specifically for retargeting site abandoners to bring them back in order to make a purchase. In addition to the top internet retailers, insurance and telecommunication brands are including personalised, retargeted video ads within their existing SmartVideo strategies, to acquire new customers and drive repeat purchases.

3.SmartVideo for Onboarding customers is quickly becoming our third most popular solution, especially among financial service institutions, insurance, and telco providers; as they understand the first 90 days of a new customer coming aboard is critical for successful customer relationships, in order to increase levels of engagement and foster long-term loyalty. 

Q: Are more brands turning to real time, personalised pre-roll video ads to retarget and bring back site abandoners and why?

JD: Yes, significantly more, and not just online retailers; wireless carriers, cable providers, and insurance brands are all turning to smart video pre-roll ads as well. 

For some time, marketers have valued video advertising for brand awareness and impact, but CMOs are now beginning to hold video advertising accountable for performance and a measurable return (return on ad spend for retailers and cost-per -incremental order for telecommunications providers and insurance companies). 

Our SmartVideo Advertising approach with the retargeting use-case enables companies to deliver personalised pre-roll ads that retarget consumers lower in the acquisition funnel to drive incremental conversions. This is different from traditional video advertising which delivers generic pre-roll ads with limited targeting, aimed at generating brand awareness. We have proven that personalised pre-roll ad viewers visit the site, convert, and spend more than equivalent consumers who do not view these ads, and deliver more than 9x return on ad spend. 

As an example, after checking out a pair of shoes online, I am then presented with the same pair of shoes in a personalised pre-roll video ad on YouTube – days later. 

Q: Do most consumers prefer this style of personalised advert, compared to viewing a generic advert?

JD: Absolutely. Much of the online video advertising is of the untargeted, ‘one-to-many’ pre-roll ads, and consumers are tiring of this experience. Consumers recognise that paid advertising subsidises much of their online experience, but also expect that if they have to sit through an ad, they at least want relevance. In the most basic sense, would you prefer a generic ad developed for anyone and shown to everyone; an ad for someone like you that is shown to you because of your demographic (i.e., 18-35 year old male), or an ad specifically for you based on your personal interests and recent online shopping experience?

It is easy for consumers to ignore irrelevant banner ads, but an irrelevant pre-roll ad is unavoidable and has a stronger impact than display, thereby negatively affecting the customer’s experience with and perception of the advertised brand. By delivering a highly targeted and more relevant pre-roll, consumers receive ads that are more interesting to them and are more likely to cause them to engage with the brand. 

Q: What about people with privacy concerns over such ad tactics? 

JD: Personalised pre-roll video ads are similar to retargeted display ads, in which both mediums leverage the customer’s online behaviour and history to feature products or services he or she expressed interest in. Therefore, consumer privacy is not typically a concern. 

Specifically at SundaySky, we never collect personal identifying information, and all gathered data is completely anonymous. For consumers who truly have privacy concerns, programmes are available that block or disable web cookies, as well. 

Earlier this year, we hosted a panel at our annual SmartVideo Summit that featured various sides of the video advertising spectrum, and asked them just that question: How personal can advertisers get within video ads? The panelists agreed they do not expect privacy to be a major consumer concern, and they expect such walls to break down due to the changing times, especially with today’s social and connected generations. We expect regulation, if any, to be government driven, rather than by consumer demand. 

Q: Where are the best spots to place a video to give high click-throughs?

JD: Smart video engagement varies across industries and use cases. 
For our customer engagement solutions, SundaySky customers see the highest SmartVideo click-through rates when delivered directly to the consumer via email or SMS, at 13% on average, and rates lift to 24% when both delivery channels are used together. Customers that add the online portal and take actions to truly optimise these channels are seeing click-through rates approaching 40% of eligible customers watching their SmartVideo. We measure click-throughs on call-to-action(s) in the video and have seen them range between five and 15% of customers’ clicks.

For our SmartVideo Advertising solutions, we are delivering videos as pre-rolls, which guarantees placement for targeted impressions. Here we measure click-through on videos before the ad ends and before the video content starts. Personalised pre-rolls deliver on average 2% click-through rates, higher than any other online ad medium.

Q: Who are the company’s biggest and/or most successful clients and why? What have these brands done? 

JD: Since launching its video bill program, AT&T has received extremely positive feedback from customers – 90% find the videos helpful. And among customers who receive the video bill, the telecom giant sees fewer billing-related phone calls to the contact centre. The first telecommunications provider to deliver video bills to customers, AT&T received the ‘2012 Global Telecoms Business Consumer Service Awards for Billing Innovation’. 

Additionally, Office Depot is effectively bringing back site abandoners at a very impressive rate, with retargeted and personalised pre-roll ads. The return on investment percentages are higher than any other display and remarketing campaigns for the online retailer, and they were awarded ‘Excellence in Enterprise Video’ last year.