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True Paradise: Video Ads Served to the Right Consumers

AcxiomMarch 10, 2017

I really don’t want to go to Paradise Island in the Bahamas. My non-existent shiny happy nuclear family and I will never splash in its cerulean waves, sculpted bodies gleaming. So why does YouTube keep serving me an ad for a Paradise Island family package? I see it again and again on both of my smart TVs.

Video is soaring—is ad relevance, too?

I ask because I saw the recent report in The Wall Street Journal that YouTube has passed one billion views a day—on track to surpass the audience for traditional television viewing. The brains behind the platform are doing a lot of things right, including projected 2017 ad revenue of $2.59 billion, accounting for 20 percent of the U.S. video ad market.

With that kind of ad growth, you’ve got to believe YouTube is serving relevant ads at a decent clip. Parent company Google claims that YouTube ads are 80 percent more effective in driving sales than old-school TV spots.

But imagine what even greater identity management capabilities could do for YouTube and other video platforms. Yes, video is a relatively cheap investment, so the cost of missing the mark here and there isn’t disastrous. Still, why wouldn’t you want more bullseyes?

One consumer’s experience

I’m doing my part to rack up those one billion-plus daily YouTube views. I probably watch at least an hour a night, mostly music videos. Some of the videos don’t come with ads, not that I’m complaining. Last night I watched half a dozen videos by the great Alejandro Escovedo and none were preceded by a pitch for a credit card or a car.

But I do get ads. How many have I voluntarily watched all the way through? One. It was an ad for Utah tourism, featuring a real person who rock climbs to get in touch with her bliss. Amazing scenery, believable story and a “product” I might buy one day, minus the part where you claw your way up a cliff without any ropes.

Did the ad server just get lucky? Or did it know about the pricey Patagonia boots I purchased, now caked in mud and living in the trunk of my car so I can slip them on whenever I’m near the Appalachian Trail, just 40 minutes from home.

I’d like to think the latter, but I haven’t seen any other outdoorsy ads, though I spent at least three minutes beholding the splendor of Utah, nearly as long as the content I was on my way to enjoy. So, one hit in several years and a whole bunch of misses, starting with Paradise Island and including ads for luxury cars and, um, I don’t remember.

Think of the opportunities better identity will bring

And here’s the crazy thing. Unlike most, I watch about 95 percent of my YouTube videos on my TVs. My phone is too small and my laptop is mostly a work tool. But when I plop down on the sofa, IPA in hand, and click on YouTube I’m in the perfect context for a video ad—if it speaks to me.

If it doesn’t, click. Gone in five seconds. Another missed opportunity. Or, if it’s a YouTube TrueView ad—one I have to watch in its entirety—and it’s equally irrelevant, then I’m one more prospect turned into a hostage.

Last year, Comscore and YouTube produced a study on video content engagement. The authors noted that video lets consumers “immerse themselves in their passions,” a nice way of saying binge-watch. They added, “This is good news for advertisers because when consumers are deeply engaged with content, it’s a great opportunity for your brand message to resonate.” Also a chance to drive sales in more surgical fashion.

It’s not an opportunity brands want to leave to guesswork. Another report predicts that the global video streaming market will grow from USD 30.29 billion in 2016 to USD 70.05 billion in 2021.

Exactly the right message in context is what every marketer wants. It’s the very promise of the data-driven marketing world we live in. And it starts with getting identity right, and understanding what’s relevant to that consumer—more than once in three years.

More mountains, please. Less fake-smile beaches. The couch is comfy. I’ll be sitting there waiting.