3 ways to boost video engagement
U.S. Internet users watched nearly 37 billion online videos in March and viewed more than 8 billion ads in those videos, according to comScore. While the majority of those views funneled through YouTube, the numbers speak highly of the increasing acceptance of digital video across the entire Web.
That's why video content represents a high-ceiling opportunity for premium publishers. Original videos can be a highly engaging asset for publishers looking to grow their audience - and their ad revenues. Here's how to increase the odds of users finding and watching your video content.
1. Improve discovery
Content must be optimized for search. Video is content. Ergo, video must be optimized for search. Don't overlook the fact that properly tagging and indexing your videos will make them more discoverable by your target audience.
Google offers six best practices for properly indexing video content:
- Mark up your videos with schema.org
- Submit a Video Sitemap or mRSS feed to Google
- Tell Google when you remove videos from your site
- Create high-quality thumbnail images
- Create a great user experience
Google also provides some basic tips in this video:
Third-party indexing services are also available. I wrote last month about Incus, from a startup called GreenButton, which uses next-generation speech-recognition technologies to index audio from multimedia files to make them searchable via standard text queries. Incus is a commercialized version of technology developed by Microsoft Research called MAVIS (Microsoft Audio/Video Indexing Service).
2. Make the ads skippable
Plenty of people would love to kill the 30-second pre-roll ad, especially when placed before short-form web video that runs 2 minutes or less. That probably won't happen anytime soon, since brands and ad agencies have been slow to develop creative specifically for shorter web video programming.
The short-term solution: skippable ads. YouTube introduced its video audience to the concept of skippable ads last year, a practice that users adopted quickly, to no one's surprise. Even the Interactive Advertising Bureau has grudgingly come on board, adding technical support for skippable ads in the latest release of its in-stream video advertising guidelines. The IAB made a point of saying it did not endorse the concept of skippable ads, but was adding technical support to give publishers an option for creating pricing models "based on ads that play to completion."
Nevertheless, skippable ads pose a problem for publishers, because they can't monetize ads that are aborted after a few seconds. Solve Media is offering one solution: a version of its "type-in" ad technology for pre-rolls.
The premise is the same as Solve's type-in CAPTCHA ads. When a pre-roll begins, the viewer receives an option to type in a short brand message to skip the ad. "Consumers can get to the content much faster, simply by typing in a marketing message," said Solve Media CEO Ari Jacoby.
Jacoby says the technology benefits all players: Users get an option to skip the ad, advertisers can improve ad effectiveness, and publishers can still monetize ads that are skipped.
"For any pre-roll ad, there's a choice to participate or ignore," Jacoby said in a phone interview. "Unfortunately, almost all pre-roll ads are ignored. We provide a better choice: participate in order to get to your content faster."
Solve-commissioned research by Analytics DNA found that type-in campaigns provide brand lift across all "upper funnel" stages, including awareness, recall and purchase intent.
Here's how it works:
3. Add context
A 2011 Yahoo study found that consumers were more twice as likely to watch a video when the video was featured next to or as part of an article. This means that creating a landing page/dumping ground for all of your videos is not nearly as effective as integrating video with other relevant content across your website.
Companies such as MeBox Media are addressing this need with services that contextualize videos. The MeBox Media player lets publishers insert assets - articles, white papers, etc. - that offer additional information to support different segments of the video.
ABM, The Association of Business Information and Media Companies, has adopted the MeBox Media for video content on its website; it's currently using the player to promote its upcoming Annual Conference. The video featuring ABM President and CEO Clark Pettit includes a downloadable conference agenda, speaker bios and a link to the event's registration page.