Planning video effectively

A guide to planning video ad campaigns across screens and devices.

  • Marketers must prioritize objectives for video ads: brand behavior will be different when launching a new proposition versus selling as much as possible during a promotional period.
  • At the “mass impact” end of the scale, bigger screens like cinema and linear TV are best suited to making a new brand proposition famous; at the “targeted” end, social video and VOD enables personalized messages where an in-market user can be identified from data signals.
  • OMD calibrated the data it inputted to the IPA’s TouchPoints Mediaplanner+ tool to establish the optimal levels of spend per chosen video channel.
  • The type of campaign – be it launch, promotional or maintenance – will influence the balance of broadcast and addressable video ad investment.

Smarter video planning

This article is part of a series of articles on smarter video planning. Read more.

The video landscape

Brand building has arguably become more important than ever. In the price-led climate we now live in, filled with aggregators and price comparison websites, many services have become commoditised. This means it is more crucial than ever to deliver a reason for someone to choose your brand over another.

Video has always been crucial to building a brand as the emotional area of the brain associated with long-term memory gets lit up to an “astonishing degree” by audio visual stimulus.”1 As a result, TV has always retained top spot for building a brand.

It is not new to suggest that it has become much harder to build reach on TV alone over the past five years. Recent analysis from Ebiquity’s TV at the Tipping Point paper published in February 2019 highlighted how this decline had begun to accelerate in the past year, with predictions of a steep decline into 2022.

BARB analysis carried out at OMD demonstrates how audiences such as ABC1 adults – which, despite the decline from younger audiences aged between 16 and 34, had always held firm on TV – have now seen a dramatic decline. For example, the graph below demonstrates that even though adults have only decreased by five percentage points, 83% of this drop occurred in 2018.

The declining trend in linear TV viewing can be seen in reverse for on-demand video platforms, such as broadcaster (eg ITV Hub) and subscription (eg Netflix) services.

There is no doubt that the rise in viewing on ad-free services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime is taking away from linear minutes. However, all is not lost, as even the heaviest 20% of Netflix viewers still watch 97 minutes of TV and BVOD (broadcaster VOD) per day.

We know that diversifying the video mix outside of TV will improve reach.

A plethora of providers can now distribute video ads, with almost all claiming fantastic abilities to drive incremental reach to TV. But, just because you can put an ad somewhere, should you?

Many platforms offer varying experiences for the viewer and, with that, a different mindset or mood. Is it fair to compare three seconds watched with the sound off on a mobile screen to the fully immersive experience of watching 60 seconds on the big screen in the cinema? Not all video is the same.

I don’t believe that it is either/or, however. Rather, it is important to recognise that both experiences provide value, and to understand when and how content is being consumed. This way we can align our brand KPIs in a way that ensures the ad is received in the best and most appropriate way possible.

To navigate this ever-changing video landscape, I prescribe three core pillars to follow that will ensure the effective planning of video ads:

  1. Back to basics
  2. Interrogate data sources
  3. Find the right balance

I will elaborate on these pillars theoretically, sharing some learnings along the way of how I arrived at solutions to challenges that arose. I have purposefully omitted referring to a specific campaign, as these principles can be applied across the board.

1. Back to basics

Before getting stuck into the nitty gritty, it is vital to go back to basics and assess what your campaign’s overarching goal is by prioritising objectives. It is tempting to squeeze in as much as possible, but identifying a crucial must-have goal will ensure focus for the plan. This irons out any debate about what mode your campaign is really in.

Brand behaviour will be different when launching a new brand proposition versus selling as much of your product as possible during a promotional period. Understanding these factors will unlock the mode of communications, which, in turn, directs us more neatly to the type of video channel that will fulfil specific criteria.

Campaign types can then be mapped onto a diagram of the video ecosystem.

At the “mass impact” end of the scale, we have bigger screens that are often watched in shared occasions such as cinema and linear TV. These are great for talking to everyone when making a new brand proposition famous for a launch campaign.

At the “targeted” end, we have the types of screens where messages can be personalised or an in-market user can be found from data signals. These are great at reaching someone with a promotional message when we know that they are in market for the product we are selling.

Once the main campaign task and priority video platforms are decided, it is then important to put ourselves in the shoes of the people watching the ads.

A Millward Brown AdReaction study surveyed respondents’ receptiveness to advertising by screen type. We must always assume resistance to advertising – or at least expect that most people will not admit that they are responsive to it. However, the results of this study did enable a relative evaluation of receptiveness to video advertising on different kinds of screens. This allowed the number of respondents by screen to be collated and indexed, creating a receptibility index by screen type.

Unsurprisingly, TV came out as the most receptive screen. Watching a few ads in return for the glory of high-quality broadcaster content seems like a fair value exchange.

It is then tempting to think that size of screen equates to the highest levels of receptivity, but that was not the case. The least favourable is laptop/desktop, as usage here is often more goal-orientated, with interruptions from advertising not so welcome.

We can then deduce some guidelines for length of content by device.

It is crucial to collaborate with the creative agency at this point in planning. Content time length and video platform for distribution may not always be as clear cut as this, but often having guidelines in place can aid creative decisions when faced with the vast possibility of anything.

2. Interrogate data sources

With guidelines established by campaign type and device, it is time to navigate which platforms to run the content on – and how much of each. There are many to choose from, with a variation in broadcast and/or addressable targeting.

This is the part where data sources really come into play. The industry is currently at a point of convergence. Video planning of old was nearly entirely centred around the one single source of the BARB panel. We now find ourselves in a melting pot of multiple sources, where we still rely on panel-based survey information, but alongside data we receive from ad servers and walled garden worlds.

Combining disparate sources is presently a challenge. The IPA TouchPoints Mediaplanner+ is currently the best industry wide tool for understanding cross-channel measurement. It combines multiple media metric sources with the TouchPoints time diary, so that we can get a read on reach over multiple media sources, against the backdrop of a variety of different audiences.

As fabulous as this tool is, there were some calibrations to be added to the data inputs, which were identified from questioning the results:

  1. TV reach is best identified via specific BARB planning tools and manually locked into the tool
  2. Broadcaster VOD data now includes a factor to account for app-based viewing
  3. Apply a factor to cinema admissions so that you are only accounting for the likely number of the audience seated before the ads are shown

Accounting for these factors empowered a more rigorous approach to establishing the optimal levels of spend per chosen video channel.

3. Finding the right balance

The final pillar of rigour to be added to a fully optimised video plan is to assess the targeting requirements. Now that most video platforms can deploy some form of addressable targeting, it poses the question of when the potential cost premiums of using this targeting are out-weighed by the reach and response benefits.

Referring to the role of a video channel in broadcast or addressable mode is instructive in understanding this.

Returning to the Targeting Focus section for campaign types in Pillar 1 will ensure clear alignment with either the Broadcast or Addressable role of a video channel.

Cross referencing these two grids establishes that for a launch campaign, only broadcast targeting is required. A maintenance campaign could use the right balance of the two – there is still the need for broad cost-efficient reach, but the sales focus of this campaign may benefit from a highly targeted addressable buy.

Once the suitability of broadcast versus addressable targeting has been established by campaign type, it is then crucial to assess the level of addressable targeting required by analysing the reach and/or response benefit versus the cost premium.

The example below demonstrates that even though the addressable TV universe is -89% smaller than the broadcast TV universe, that it is much more efficient at reaching this in-market audience, with the reach being +425% larger.


1. Back to basics
  • What is it that you really want your campaign to do – inspire brand love or tell as many in-market people as possible that there is now 20% off?
  • Don’t be afraid to give yourself constraints – often a clearer sense of direction will lead to more simple and smarter solutions
2. Interrogate data sources
  • Hypothesise on what you think the answer will be
  • Question data sources
3. Finding the right balance
  • Don’t think about either or – return to campaign objectives to assess what the best solution is across reach, response and cost

About Author

Leave A Reply