Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Google's Search For Video Search

Last week Google announced that they are now running video ads on SERPS. While some people think that this isn't a big deal, let’s look a little closer at what it actually means if you are an advertiser.

What it means is that someone who is interested in the category in which you are selling a product is searching for more information. And that you now have the chance to not only let them see a text message, but a video message about your product.

Video, as we all know, enlists the use of sight, sound and motion. In other words, it is a better vehicle in which to create an emotional connection with a brand than is text alone.

The beauty of search is that people come to you, already interested in your product’s category. Which means that they are further down the purchase funnel. According to a recent OMD study, they are also much more engaged in the decision-making process.

If advertisers run the same thirty-second spots on the search platform that they run on broadcast TV, spots designed, at best, to create awareness about a product, they are doing a disservice both to their potential customers as well as to the opportunity Google is providing them.

Remember, people have come to you. They are already aware of the category. The objective of the brand message is no longer to create awareness. The objective of the brand message is to create advocates.

The problem facing Google and others who are trying to incorporate video search is that most advertisers don’t have these “advocate-creating” types of commercials sitting around, waiting to capitalize on this video-search opportunity.

Video search commercials will need to be different in many ways. For starters, length is no longer restricted to thirty seconds. How long should your commercial be? As long as viewers find what you are saying to be relevant and interesting.

And here is where the wicket gets a bit sticky. Creating a text ad for a search platform takes around five minutes and costs around 50 bucks. Creating a minute and twenty-second commercial for a search platform will take considerably more time.

And money.

The elephant in the room is that search ads are seen by considerably fewer people than broadcast ads. After all, search ads are only seen by those who are interested. So how do advertisers justify the cost of creating emotionally compelling, original content for the smaller viewing audiences that comprise those searching for something?

It’s much easier to swallow a $750,000 production budget when 20 million viewers will see the spot. Reduce the number to 200,000 viewers and the gag reflex checks in.

Can advertisers save money by reducing production values?

Certainly. But why would an advertiser want to do that? Look where a searcher is in the purchase cycle. They want the advertiser to, more or less, help them make a decision. They want to buy. I would think an advertiser would want to put their best foot forward here, not a stripped-down version of what could be.

The question is what to do? And the answer lies, ironically, in what search delivers besides motivated customers.

Data.

Not only will an advertiser know how few people actually started to watch their commercial, they will also know how long they ended up watching their commercial for.

What if advertisers paid their agency for the concepting of the commercial based on how well it actually worked in the search marketplace? In other words, based on how long those who started to watch actually watched for.

It’s difficult to argue with the fact that the longer a viewer watches a spot, the more value that spot has for the advertiser. Otherwise, why wouldn’t they have just made a shorter spot? Remember, length is not mandated on the search platform.

So, why not pay the agency on that basis? The longer people watch, the more money the agency makes for creating the spot. Right now, advertisers are paying their agency based on how long it took to make the spot. They now have the option to pay them for how long people watch the spot for.

In other words, instead of paying for effort, they will be able to pay for outcome.

And maybe that’s what Google needs to be searching for when it comes to video search. A way for advertisers to be able to afford to create wonderfully compelling content for the smaller viewing audiences that they are now delivering.

Of course, it’s a bigger issue than just Google. It’s an issue that faces the entire digital marketplace. Because the fact is, as viewing audiences continue to fragment and control increasingly shifts to the viewer, Time-Spent with a brand’s messaging is becoming as important as the number that see it.

Maybe even more so.

As we said in the last post, Creative is the New Data. If advertisers are so inclined, they can now pay their agencies for how good they are, rather than how big.

Which in reality, is what they've been searching for all along.

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