BBDO video rewind finds need for better mobile optimization

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Video is everywhere lately, and multiple screens are now the norm. With more and more people viewing video on the go, on mobile and through social channels, brands are poised to reach people at an unprecedented level. But many sill aren’t optimizing their video output to reach their target markets in the right way.

BBDO is helping change that through its new approach to video, which it has compiled in a report, Video Rewind Report: A Recap of Learnings for the Future of Video. As the agency anticipates video opportunities growing even more widespread in 2017, it is hoping its findings on mobile video will break through the clutter and help clients – both current and future – maximize their dollars.

“BBDO has always been recognized for creative excellence and storytelling. As the video landscape continues to grow and evolve, we have made a commitment to exert that creative excellence across all video formats and channel touchpoints,” said John Osborn, chief executive officer at BBDO New York.

The summary is based on an analysis of more than 4,500 video assets that BBDO produced over the past year for its clients – more content than it has ever produced before – and centers on four key ways in which marketers are using video for delivering their messages:

  • Video for social feeds
  • Video for YouTube Trueview
  • Video for Snapcat (lenses)
  • Video that makes a splash in popular culture

Nicole Landesman, BBDO, senior communications planner, group comms planning, said: “We saw towards the middle of 2016 that there were more video opportunities that were coming out than ever before. All of a sudden we had to think about video not just for TV and pre-roll but there was video on all these different social platforms … interactive video, now live is a entirely new component. We wanted to increase our expertise around video as a whole so that BBDO could be telling creative stories across video and they could be impactful in any video environment.”

The first area studied was around the newsfeed. The company did a lot of research with Facebook but looked at all newsfeed environments where someone could come into contact with video, including Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and other social feeds. They then realized that there was a big difference between how people were watching video in-feed versus other environments, like TV and pre-roll. In social, the intake is much faster, and people have the option to skip the content completely if they don’t like what they see right away.

“They’re watching it without sound and they’re typically watching it vertically, which has a big implication on the dimensions of the video itself,” said Landesman.

As a study, BBDO utilized video from four brands it works with, including Wrigley. They took their television spot, Life Happens in 5, and optimized it a number of ways for feed, then tested it against the original and found the best ways to maximize it for higher consumer recall.

Success came when they:

  • Updated the title card to grab viewer attention
  • Added supers to contextualize the narrative
  • Lightened the footage for better comprehension in the feed
  • Cut down the film to maximize action and focus viewer engagement
  • Resized to square to increase visibility in the feed

They also found they could tweak specific elements to significantly increase view-through rate and impact, including showing the product in use when sound was turned off, giving the narrative a clear focus in vertical viewing, captured people within the first three seconds, and increasing the pace of the story in newsfeed environments.

An interesting number the team hit upon was that only 16% of brands were optimizing for the newsfeed, a fairly low number considering how many brands are putting up video on social newsfeeds.

“I think a lot of people were just repurposing. I think a lot of marketers are taking their TV edits and they’re dropping them in all the different places that they can because they want to maximize those production dollars,” theorized Landesman. “What a lot of marketers are missing out on is that people are watching these videos in very different ways across those environments so we need to make sure we’re optimizing for each of those placements.”

Essentially, marketers weren’t realizing that a lot of people were watching videos with the sound off and they weren’t accounting for that, they weren’t using the right ratios and the amount of time spent on videos on Facebook wasn’t as much as they originally thought.

The three second rule

Those in radio and television advertising know the three second rule well – that you need to capture people’s attention in the first three seconds or they tune out. That rule holds true in social video advertising as well. Considering 90% of Facebook users watch video on their mobile devices, and many watch without sound, capturing them quickly before they scroll past is key.

The study found that 65% of viewers decide if they’re going to watch a piece of video content in the first three seconds.

“You only have a very short amount of time to catch someone’s attention, at that point they will have decided if they want to scroll to the next piece of content. This is really the first time we’ve really given people the option as to whether they want to view a piece of advertising or branded content or not. Everything else has really been forced – commercials, pre-roll video,” added Landesman.

For YouTube Trueview, pre-roll on YouTube can be skipped after five seconds. The study found that people who chose to watch an ad were 75% more engaged than those who were forced to watch.

“We actually talk about it in terms of two different stories – we call it passive and active. Passive would be anything that’s non-skippable media with a traditional story arc – build up, climax and end card. In these (new) types of environments we’re actually starting with the reveal or that really intriguing opening shot then we’re building the story out that way,” she said.

BBDO leveraged Google’s existing research to create 10 different creative expressions of the same idea. The top three were measured by most impact on VTR and Branded Recall. The one that topped the charts, so to speak, was a Twix ad that met all the most effective elements in the test, including branding in the first five seconds, calls to action, animation plus text, audio brand mention, no logo slap, and no inclusion of music in the first five seconds.

Snapping in with Snapchat Lenses

BBDO sees a huge opportunity with Snapchat branded lenses, and the numbers bear that out. In 2016, Snapchatters watched over 10 billion videos per day. Sponsored lenses allow users to manipulate their face and/or environment in some way, and users are spending more time with them.

The Snapchat Lenses, they found, can provide brands with unprecedented video opportunities for engagement.

“It’s the first time we’re asking to actually put branding on their face and they are doing it. We’re also seeing users spend up to 20 seconds on those Snapchat lenses … that engagement level is truly remarkable,” said Landesman.

The agency had two successes with clients and Snapchat lenses. With GE and Bacardi, both used face alteration and aligned it with a larger campaign to support other communications. GE also altered the user’s environment and voice, while Bacardi used a time-relevant campaign near Halloween and flipped the user’s head upside down in a new use of the technology. The campaigns both worked because they were relevant, contextual and had strong brand recall.

BBDO last studied longform video and opportunities to make a cultural splash with buzzworthy video content. The agency is seeing increasing interest in emotional, longer form content from brands. And the top 10 YouTube ads of 2015 were over approximately two minutes long.

“We’re seeing a huge opportunity with longform. It allows this platform to tell highly emotional and engaging stories,” said Landesman.

While they still need to study the trend in longform, they have noticed an uptick in longform being shared. It’s content versus advertising, and two of the most viral videos produced at BBDO were emotional longform stories for AT&T and Sandy Hook Promise.

The study has been received well by BBDO clients as it gives them more opportunities to optimize for the channel. It will be shared with all their clients moving forward and through social channels.

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