Alibaba’s Video Platform Youku Test Drives Mirriad’s 10-Second, Nonskippable Ad Unit

Alibaba’s video service Youku Tudou is deploying video ad platform Mirriad’s 10-second nonskippable video ad unit, which launched Wednesday.

The video unit aims to be less disruptive and more engaging than traditional pre-roll by applying 10-second video overlays into contextually relevant video content.

“Early on, a lot of big brands used pre-roll because it was very measurable and guaranteed exposure,” said Enfys Luk, senior manager for integrated marketing and innovative ads at Youku. “But consumers aren’t interested in pre-roll anymore and either skip it or look away from phones while they wait 30 seconds for the ad to load.”

Mirriad’s technology scans and analyzes thousands of videos across video publisher partners like Youku, Univision 20thCentury Fox syndication, Star India and RTL, and creates a database of products and brand exposures.

Mirriad’s algorithm then benchmarks the quality of an exposure by scoring the content according to a video impact score.

“We use machine learning and AI to analyze all of the places that might be contextually relevant for an advertiser within a video stream,” said Mark  Popkiewicz, CEO of Mirriad.

For instance, if a video features a family sitting around a kitchen table, that scene might be an opportunity for a CPG brand to insert its own messaging.

In Youku’s case, auto-leasing brand Tangeche wanted to increase exposure and brand recall with younger consumers, so it ran a five-month test campaign on Youku using Mirriad’s 10-second ad units.

Mirriad identified videos that were contextually relevant and embedded Tangeche’s auto-focused ad creative. It resulted in 800 million impressions over the course of the campaign with 67% of viewers in its target demo recalling the brand’s slogan.

But Youku’s Luk said advertisers aren’t just looking to increase brand metrics like awareness, recall and favorability using contextual information around video.

Because Youku’s parent company Alibaba is so entrenched in ecommerce, it has access to a lot of other information like search, sales and audience data.

“We’re connecting user behavior on Youku based on what they have watched, to what have they bought on TaoBao or T-Mall,” Luk said. “Understanding the consumer journey and brand funnel requires a bigger pool of audience data, so the brands wanted to collaborate with us and use [different] data sets to reach different target audiences on Youku as much as possible.”

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