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Time’s ticking: Holding on to attention on video

Full engagement video experiences remain a hot topic as online video has now become the fastest growing digital advertising category worldwide, especially in Asia-Pacific.

Globally, the consumption of mobile and online video has skyrocketed. Many reports also point to higher-than-average screen minutes spent in many Asia-Pacific. A global study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) earlier this year showed how mobile video consumption is not limited to short clips. Longer form content also performs exceptionally well on mobile, with nearly 44 per cent of consumers in countries like Singapore watching videos longer than five minutes on their smartphones.

In another report, We are Social come together with IAB Singapore to shed light on digital usage in Asia-Pacific revealing that video also sees a remarkable share of online activity – with 8.4 billion videos watched on YouTube each day. These impressive figures point in a very clear direction: users simply love the interactivity of online video.

However, high mobile and online video consumption in this markets also means that brands are competing for share of voice and visibility much more aggressively. The question is – how can brands hang on to user attention for as long as possible?

Video as the main act
Brands love television and they love creating video content. There’s nothing quite like the blank canvas of 15 to 30 seconds of sight, sound, and motion that video provides.

And yet, when it comes to online or mobile video,designers and brands are repeatedly tempted to wrap the video in animation and other elements. Sometimes, the video gets forgotten altogether and advertisers rely on games and other rich media to capture audiences.

While this can be a successful strategy, particularly for innovative and authentic designs, our experience shows that using video as the main act and maximizing its prominence provides more consistent results.

Now that smartphones have more superior displays, brands need to be capable of capitalizing on one of the fastest growing activities on the web – mobile video viewing. Videos remain as the main act, but it is imperative that these videos play out well and without any lags on a mobile platform.

Multiple video assets
We often see average time spent in the ad unit (in other words, the ad that has not yet expanded into a full-screen canvas until the user decides to hover the cursor over the ad)greater than the length of the primary video spot. Why? On average, shouldn’t users leave the unit before the end of a 30 second video? Sometimes they stay with the brand experience because of engaging interactive elements and a desire to explore those. However, again, by far the most consistent way to achieve great results is to have multiple video assets and to have those cycle on auto play, similar to the ‘up next’ functionality in a YouTube channel.

Authentic interactive elements
After maximising available video assets, there is then a golden opportunity to leverage interactive elements and allow engaged users to explore the brand further and improve their experience. However, directing a user straight to your website can be jarring for many users.Instead advertisers should look at providing additional information and interactive elements within the ad, keeping in mind that the interactive experience needs to be authentic to the brand and the brand category.

One prime example is the first interactive video ever launched in India by Dalmia Continental, titled ‘Cooking with Love’ for brand Hudson Canola Oil. With an interlinked loop of 13 videos, viewers were able to direct the course of the story; helping the protagonist decide what course of action he should take. Giving the audience autonomy and likening their experience to difficulties encountered while cooking,adds to the depth of interaction they have with the brand.

Be consistent but recognise the device
Responsive design technology provides the opportunity for a creative developer to build a single full engagement experience and then have that work the same across different screens and devices, irrespective of the launch teaser. This maximises the design time spent on creative concepts rather than production. Over time and exposure it also helps users learn what to expect from a unit.

However, there are unique opportunities, particularly on smartphones and tablets, which should not be ignored for the sake of consistency, e.g. a virtual reality store for a retailer, the ability to pan around a car interior for an auto manufacturer, etc.

Respect the consumer journey
Finally, keeping these four tips above in mind, remember to always respect the consumer journey. In instances where your video directs the consumer away from the page they were originally on, make sure you clearly direct them back. The user will want to return to the page they were on in order to continue browsing. Brands that respect the value of the viewer’s time by striking a balance between the levels of advertising with the actual content viewed, will see it becoming a strategic advantage in their brand building.

Kelvin Tan

Kelvin Tan is the General Manager, SEA & North Asia at Exponential.
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