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Emi Gal of Brainient: what does YouTube’s new TrueView interactive format mean for video advertisers?

Last month saw the fifth anniversary of YouTube’s cost-per-view (CPV) TrueView ads. YouTube celebrated by introducing some interesting new features – one of them being interactive cards. Interactive video advertising is what we do at Brainient and have been doing so for the last five years, so naturally we’re keen to explore this addition and analyse what it could mean for marketers. Here’s a run-down of the facts:

The state of play – engagement is key

YouTube has been a favourite of advertisers for some time. The platform boasts more than a billion users worldwide and the hours of video watched increases by a staggering 50 per cent each year. On top of that, video is the most engaging form of content out there. At the latest Breakfast and Brains, a quarterly industry meetup hosted by Brainient, our panel referenced a piece of Insivia research that showed viewers retain 95 per cent of a brand’s message when they watch video, compared to just ten per cent when reading text.

Engagement is the Holy Grail for marketers. An AdAge/Google study shows that more advertisers are now buying media based on online engagement, as it drives a host of other key metrics such as brand recall, propensity to purchase and ROI. One increasingly popular method of driving engagement within an advertisement is by adding interactive features.

TrueView has had to keep pace in proving its comparative value to brand marketers, and so by launching interactive cards, YouTube has hugely improved the potential two-way conversation between its viewers and advertisers.

So what has changed?

The interactive cards in the YouTube TrueView skippable ads allow advertisers to include extra content in overlays to their in-stream spot. The cards will appear when a user clicks on a call to action on the top right hand corner of the video, placed here in order to not obscure the video pre-roll.

Interactive TrueView cards work across all devices, making them more advanced than the platform’s previous foray into interactivity with ‘annotations’. Given that half of YouTube’s viewers access the site via their smartphone, this is crucial if advertisers are to reach a wider audience.

YouTube has promised to roll out specialised cards that cater for specific use cases over the next year. But despite this, the current card system will not be as sophisticated as ads built in an interactivity studio. The bespoke design and wider range of formats available to the latter will still give them the edge.

Why interactivity?

Interactive layers open up a whole host of options for brands. For example, they can contain additional product information and links through to the website to buy items featured in the ad. In existing interactive campaigns, such as the recent ‘Very’ ad (below), overlaid hotlinks have been hugely successful in driving engagements. These links create a seamless transition from the point of advertising to the point of purchase, driving a higher return on investment for advertisers.

In other formats, viewers are invited to create their own experience within the video by selecting different ads to watch or different components of the narrative. It puts the consumer in the driving seat, allowing them to be a participant in the advert, leading to higher brand awareness and recall.

The release of interactive video on TrueView supports the fact that interactive video ads are more effective than the standard formats. Our data shows that a viewer is much more likely to engage with in-video interactive features than move away from the content they are online for in the first place to click to an advertiser’s website. On top of that, the Ad Age/Google study mentioned earlier shows that 93.6 per cent of people engaging with ads frequently make their purchasing decisions based on those interactions.

The average engagement rate for interactive ads created using our platform is five per cent, and we’ve seen instances where the engagement rate was as high as 30 per cent. It remains to be seen how TrueView will compare, but we can expect to see a boost in its ads’ click-through rate, which is currently four per cent, and view-through rates as well.

Interactive ads are the future of video advertising, and it’s great to see that giants of the industry, such as YouTube, have finally realised this.

unnamed-5Emi Gal is the founder and CEO of Brainient

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