Video Ad Targeting Isn’t Behavioral Because It’s Not Direct-Response

gregsmithtremor“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Greg Smith, vice president of programmatic at Tremor Video.

Display ads are most commonly used for direct-response campaigns that rely on behavioral targeting. Video ads, by contrast, generally do not rely on behavior targeting for their success. Marketers who try to use video as a direct-response vehicle are going to be very disappointed.

For display advertising, data derived from online behaviors is like gold. A consumer can look online at buying a set of golf clubs, for example, and maybe even put them into his cart. Then, thanks to cookies and real-time big data analysis, a display ad can be served prompting him to complete his order, with more ads following him around the Internet with offers for other golf accessories or even travel and resort packages.

Some Data Is More Important

As with our golfing example above, retargeting data is the most important piece of behavioral information used for display and direct-response campaigns. Via the magic of cookies it’s a simple matter to show reinforcing or complementary display ads wherever a consumer goes digitally.

Also important to display ad targeting is intent data from a consumer’s behavior on the Internet as a whole. Here, a visit to a particular product page, a search query or a content download each provides information about a particular consumer, and informs the display ads he later sees. By contrast, demographic and modeled-data targeting are not nearly as useful for direct-response as retargeting and intent data.

Display ads work because of their end goal, which is a transaction, either via click- or view-through. If I’m interested in those golf clubs or a trip to Pebble Beach, all I have to do is click through and I’ve completed the transaction the advertiser set out for me to do. Voilà – a direct response.

Video ads, like television, are a branding vehicle. Video ad targeting is greatly informed by site targeting and the demos associated with those sites. Branding segments are generally larger than direct-response segments and broader in nature. Nonetheless, specificity in branding segment have come a long way in the past few years via actual modeled data with inferred attributes of a consumer’s locale, aggregated down to the ZIP code level from dozens or hundreds of different sources.

The granularity can be significant, and may include affluence, credit worthiness, home ownership, education, marital status, presence of children, purchase behavior, religion and politics. Knowing this information allows video advertisers to serve up the right video ad to the right person at the right time.

Types Of Targeting For Different Campaigns

All this is why, generally speaking, marketers who have applied direct-response goals to video campaigns have been disappointed. Video, as a branding channel, relies on completely different types data than display ads. As a general rule, do not use video ads as you would display ads.

One more piece of data informs the success of video ads: the value of surrounding video inventory on a site. Here, a strong video ad placed on a premium site benefits from other powerful videos on the site because people are drawn to quality. Inventory quality prompts engagement and video views right down to the very end.

None of this is to say that you should never use behavioral data for your video campaigns. The halo effect of a behaviorally targeted, multiscreen approach to video ads can pay big dividends to both direct-response display ads and other branding efforts. But when it comes to online video ads, don’t assume that display behavioral targeting segments will be the defining factor for KPI outcomes at scale.

Follow Greg Smith (@webadsguy), Tremor Video (@TremorVideo) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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