Not a week goes by where research houses fail to highlight the growing contribution that video is having on global ad spend, and for very good reason.

Well-constructed clips seek to attract, entertain and allow the advertiser to showcase exactly what they have on offer. When considering the global audience that video gains with its connection to the web, the possibilities are vast and growing.

The big conundrum for marketers when planning an online video campaign is how best to capitalise on such a rewarding platform. Should the goal be to increase awareness of a certain product or property with insightful, non sales-oriented content? Or should brands be focusing on the bottom line by embedding clickable links and getting viewers to ‘enquire within’.

Ultimately engagement plays a huge part in the achievement of either goal, and there is plenty to be said about the role of online video in encouraging a strong response.

Growing demand

The global demand for video marketing is still some way below the levels achieved by display and social media. Yet the most pertinent reminders of online video’s potential are in its realised and projected growth, both of which provide subtle warnings of the heights it could scale with a little more time.

Figures released by ZenithOptimedia in Q1 2014 predicted spend on traditional display advertising to grow at a rate of 15.8% per year between 2013-2016. This highly respectable total was trumped by the performance of video which, after witnessing an impressive rise in adoption the year before, was tipped for an even greater increase – of 23.9% per year, lasting up to 2016.

Many would have predicted the two findings to run in tandem with each other. A rise for online display could have easily come at the expense of a decline for its static brethren. However, the same research was quick to debunk this logic, highlighting that online video appears to be offering credible brand-building alternatives to its offline counterpart – in good old TV advertising.

Irfon Watkins, founder and CEO of video affiliate network Coull, has seen this all unfold before his watchful eyes, and has a number of reasons for why companies are choosing to invest in this way.

“Video is simply the most engaging way to tell a story, so for businesses looking to deliver their message it’s an incredibly effective way to communicate,” he believes

“Plus it’s a format that travels well across multiple devices, so its popularity has piggybacked on the continued growth in smartphone and tablet usage.”  

ZenithOptimedia stated video advertising as a whole will remain the best way to build brand awareness and engagement “for many years to come”, helping online video and TV account for 41.3% of all money spent on advertising. However, with TV poised for a 4.4% lift in spend per year up to 2016, questions have to be asked about how online is managing to steal its ground.


For many, the explanation for online video outpacing TV is very simple. The key is in engagement and internet marketing is primed for attracting viewers, converting them into loyal followers of a brand via seamless link-up with social media and ensuring they stay there for as long as possible.

TV drives engagement by a variety of means, and advertisers will point to its ability to stir conversation through the likes of Twitter and Facebook. But online is already at the scene. Viewers can share a video to their social accounts with just one click of a button, embed a link into their blogs, or even interact with a clip to shape how they prefer the content to play out.

Social shares are the holy grail to boosting engagement as viewers link to sources in order to encourage their own following to view their favourite clips. This brings the content out of its intended target range, with viral opportunities and mass engagement in the offing.

According to Jayant Kadambi, co-founder and CEO at video ad tech firm YuMe, the fact that any engagement generated by online clips can be measured is a quality worth utilising.

“Smart brand advertisers are recognising that not only is digital video a great approach to reach consumers across all the screens they use, but data science also provides advanced measurement and targeting capabilities unmatched in the offline, linear television world,” he states.

In fact, Kadambi believes online can come to the aid of TV advertisers, helping them maximise their spend.

“In essence, the efficacy of the marginal dollar spent on TV brand advertising is diminishing due to fragmentation and distraction. TV brand advertisers can address fragmentation of video viewership by adding digital video across platforms – complimenting their TV spend and increasing their reach and frequency.”

So that’s how things should play out, but are tests on the format reading along the same lines?

Engaged and ready

Online video advertising has long been destined for a place in the stars and research has more than proven its worth in terms of engagement. New studies based on millions of clicks, views and minutes spent in front of the screen continue to affirm its stance as the key to campaign interaction, constantly forcing brands to reconsider their spend on the channel.

In 2013, AOL surveyed over 700 marketing professionals from the UK, Europe and North America to find that 58% believe online video offers better engagement opportunities than TV. With this in mind, 87% valued targeting as the most important aspect of their online video campaign planning.

In the same year, it was the turn of Adobe’s US Digital Video Benchmark Report to demonstrate the benefits of investing in online video advertising for use on social channels. The group looked into likes, shares and comments on Facebook to find that daily average engagement on video is twice that of non-video content. This caused online video to obtain a 70% share of all engagement for posts on the site, up from just 42% in the year before.

From there it is up to the company to seize on their influx of customer response, which could result in a number of different actions.

User interaction

When reacting to engagement through video, good social media teams are worth their weight in gold.

After all, user interaction can almost determine success in this high-cost medium. Its presence indicates that brands are connecting with the very people they wish to reach out to and attempting so much more than the ‘quick sell’.

Analysts have even gone as far as to explain why basic metrics like click-through rates (CTR) are unsuitable for judging video’s effectiveness. With brand awareness, social sharing, traffic driving and even its impact on brick-and-mortar sales all worth taking into consideration, it is no wonder why.   

As for how online video plans to build on this early success, the general consensus is that things are about to get much bigger and much better. Watkins sees video following the footsteps of so many channels by becoming much more relevant to consumers, thus tying into the focus on targeting.

“This will enable brands to execute campaigns that reach audiences that don’t just fit a broad demographic profile, but who have demonstrable interest in relevant content,” he says.  

“That’s going to make video advertising a hell of a lot more effective.”