What can we teach TV planners about YouTube?

When I began my career ten years ago my initial desire was to be in TV (or on TV I hasten to admit). The glamour, wealth and fame factors drove me to apply for an ad operations job at a television sales company. However, the sheen soon wore off and my ambitions were muted when I realised that television was not as glamorous as I expected it to be, well not in ad operations anyway. How ironic then that 10 years later, having honed my craft in digital media planning and optimisation, I should find myself ‘working in TV’ again.

The world of television has moved online, with YouTube launching 100 new channels alone. Interestingly, and for the first time, we have traditional media planners including YouTube on their schedules alongside traditional broadcast media, and digital marketers also adding YouTube to their plans, next to search and display. YouTube has become a place where traditional media buyers and digital specialists collide. What can we learn from one another to understand how we can get the most out of this channel? From a digital specialist’s perspective my advice to traditional TV buyers would be the following:

Treat the optimisation like you would the planning in traditional media.

Unlike traditional media where most of the hard work happens before a campaign launches, on YouTube success is dependent on the optimisation; video analytics can be crucial to success. YouTube’s video metrics can help you understand what creative works best, how long users stay engaged, and what people are saying about your video. This data can be used to inform not simply your next creative message or audience target, but also how to plan future above the line campaigns; why commit to one creative asset offline when you can test multiple assets online first?

Forget TVRs, it’s all about sharing now

In traditional media, reach and ratings are king. Online video’s success is defined by how much the video is shared, liked and commented upon as much as it is on clicks and conversions, YouTube calls these ‘earned views’. In Kevin Allocca’s words, “the audience defines the popularity”, this means success metrics and evaluation will be different. I’m not of the opinion that success should only be defined by click through rates and conversions for online video advertising; it is still a broadcast medium and should be treated as such. To measure success you will need to evaluate multiple metrics, but the key to doing this is to always have a baseline target which you should continue to build on and improve over time.

Get used to multiple formats and approach each differently

In traditional media, TV spots occur between scheduled programmes in increments of 10 seconds in duration. When it comes to paid online video formats ad duration is only one consideration amongst many. For example, on YouTube ‘skippable’ ads require you to grab the user’s attention at the start of the ad, ‘in-search ads’ allow you to target users based on their search query, some formats will click through to external pages and others won’t. Each format requires a different approach and different evaluation metrics. You then have to consider your organic media strategy and how you plan to seed your videos. You may decide on different formats for paid than you would for organic.

There a numerous more considerations for online video advertising, but what do TV planners think of YouTube? How are they approaching this new channel and what can we learn from them in turn? To gain this perspective, I spoke to Richard Davies, Media Partner at VCCP, who has over 20 years’ experience as a traditional media planner, and asked him what he thought about online video in comparison to traditional broadcast media.

“For me in my aged luddite ways it’s about strategy and tactics. Many successful brands continue to build their advertising strategies around TV and tactically enhance them with online video. In many ways I feel the parts pull in equal and opposite direction. Brands need to act like leaders, show conviction and laser in on meeting their target needs and wants. Tighter strategies equal better advertising and greater effectiveness. The flip side of this is the arms race to a dynamically personalised real time creative nightmare where everything is permanent beta; I think that used to be called direct marketing. Both need to advance and both need to exist, the challenge is not to get caught compromising betwixt and between your strategies and tactics”.

Online video is still in its infancy, I believe that in the future more new businesses will consider this channel as a strategic launch pad and not simply as an ‘add-on’ or tactic; Richard and I shall continue to debate this no doubt.  YouTube and online video as a whole is offering new ways for us to reach and engage with audiences, it will be interesting to see how traditional and digital specialists work together (or not) moving forward.