INside Performance Marketing
The Three-Second Audition: How to Ensure Video Ads Make the Cut

The Three-Second Audition: How to Ensure Video Ads Make the Cut

Sizmek’s Andrew Morsy on why advertisers need to give ads instant impact.

You have three seconds to persuade users they should stop scrolling and watch your mobile video ad. When Facebook first introduced this concept, advertisers were unsure, with platforms like YouTube deeming 30-second video ad views standard; was a three-second audition really enough?

Now, the majority accept this threshold, because a few seconds is all any mobile content has to hook audiences. Time spent on mobile devices may be rising, but with users squeezing 2, 617 interactions into each day, attention is short-lived. So ads have to impress, fast.  

This means advertisers must deliver instantly personalised, relevant and ‘snackable’ content if they’re to make the cut. And to do so, they’ll need smart tools that enable them to identify individual wants and tastes, and use this insight to adjust ads in real-time. More specifically, they’ll need to utilise dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) and location targeting.  

Location fuels fast personalisation

Location data isn’t just for mapping user movement. While it’s true that certain elements such as GPS do exactly that, the finished article is more than the sum of its parts. When multiple location data sources, like GPS, Wi-Fi, and in-store beacons are combined, they produce a detailed and constantly updating view of user activity. Using this information, advertisers can tailor messages and ensure attention is engaged in those crucial first few seconds.

Of course, there are some potential drawbacks. For instance, Wi-Fi can pinpoint users on the move as they link up with different hotspots, and track their unique device IDs. But it only works while users are connected, which means there are blind spots in user activity. But the good news is this issue can be easily overcome by adding data layers to fill in the gaps, such as GPS. Though it’s important to note that depends on users always bringing their device with them and keeping location services switched on.

Advertisers should also keep an eye on quality. Given the high data volumes mobile devices produce, the probability that errors will occur is increasing. This makes it essential to use a validation platform capable of monitoring location insight, identifying suspicious data — such as blacklisted or unfeasible coordinates — and removing it from consumer profiles.

Bringing location and DCO together

However beautiful ad creative is, it can still lose user attention if it doesn’t match their current context. That’s why location targeting and DCO are a formidable duo: with up-to-date location insight and the ability to automatically adapt creative, advertisers can ensure mobile video ads always have the in-the-moment relevance needed to keep users watching.

How far advertisers can take location-powered DCO depends only on their desired level of targeting. For starters, they can adjust ads to align with broader variables, such as the local language, currency or the city users are in — as Toyota did with its recent Corolla campaign, which referenced local places users could visit with its new model across 15,000 US cities.  

For those looking to go further, ads can also get personal. When combined with additional data, like past purchases or browsing behaviour, location insight can determine not just where consumers are now, but also where they have been and where they are likely to go in the future. Using DCO, this insight can inform advertising that provides real value for individuals: discount codes for items users have been searching for that reach their device as they pass a participating store, suggestions for newly issued upgrades that will improve past buys. In this way, advertisers will not only be able to boost the appeal of each ad, and the chances users will stick with it beyond three seconds, but also the likelihood of conversion.

Then there is the capacity to add interest by linking ads to external events and the weather. For example, Disney used weather segmentation for an OOH campaign promoting its emotion-focused movie Inside Out; switching the characters featured on digital billboards to reflect the skies, sadness for rain and joy for sunshine. Dove Men+Care also experimented with giving ads contextual meaning last year in its campaign for the RBS Six Nations rugby tournament, where ads were updated with the latest scores and news using a real-time live stream.  

Yet while precise targeting is an effective way to grab user attention, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that attentiveness will last the duration of a 60-second ad. Advertisers need to make sure content is snackable, key messages are conveyed at the very start and ad length is proportionate to content.

Time is limited for today’s audiences, yet content variety is endless — so when it comes to choosing which ads to engage with, the video that makes the best impression will always win.

Advertisers need to give ads instant impact. Not only is it vital for key targeting elements to be covered — user identity and preferences  — but also that context is taken into account. If ads are to make the cut, creative must seize the moment and provide an experience so immersive users ignore everything except the ad in view.  

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Andrew Morsy

Andrew Morsy

Andrew Morsy is managing director UK at Sizmek. He began his career 11 years ago at Dennis Publishing working across the Men’s Lifestyle titles as a classified sales executive, moving onto display and online packages. He then spent three years at Yahoo! working across its search and display products. He was heavily involved in the commercial roll out of the Yahoo! DR ad network product in 2008, a merger of the Blue Lithium and Right Media technologies. He has always had a deep interest in the technology underpinning advertising and has seen the term programmatic emerge as a catch-all for automation.

Andrew left Yahoo! in 2010 to join a fast growing ad personalisation start-up called Struq, where he led the sales team to great success with direct clients buying performance media. In 2013 he joined StrikeAd, which was the first mobile DSP, and has since worked to help expand the business into EMEA. StrikeAd was sold to Sizmek in 2015. Andrew has recently been appointed the UK MD for Sizmek. 

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