Satrajit Sen

Online Advertising: The Rise of Video

Online video advertising sets a scorching pace as brands take to it with enthusiasm.

Did you know that online video advertising has gone up by nearly six times in the last three years?

Online Advertising: The Rise of Video

According to a report by the IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) and IMRB International, online advertising in India is projected to grow by 30 per cent in the current fiscal. The online advertising market grew to Rs 2,750 crore in 2013-14 from Rs 2,260 crore in 2012-13 and Rs 1,750 crore in 2011-12. This year, it is expected to touch Rs 3,575 crore.

Online video ads, in the meantime, grew sharply to Rs 330 crore, up from Rs 158.2 crore and Rs 87.5 crore during the same period. This year, online video ad spend is expected to touch Rs 500 crore. The same report states that by 2015, spends on video ads will grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 56 per cent and contribute 12 per cent to overall digital advertising spends, up from seven per cent last year.

Now for the visible side of online video advertising. When Lenovo India wanted to create a digital campaign for its Yoga Tablet 2 launched in October, Mumbai-based digital advertising agency Experience Commerce created an interactive video-based story around it. It wasn't the only one. Online campaigns like #DoTheRex from Durex, Philips' video featuring Ranbir Kapoor, Pepsi's Diwali Homecoming campaign, the Google 'Vote' Film with Shyam Negi, Ranveer Singh's Ching's Campaign, KitKat's Diwali campaign featuring an astronaut orbiting the Earth, had a video as the central idea.

In 2013, McDonald's launched the McEgg burger in India through multiple teaser videos that were followed by a launch on YouTube. The result? McEgg was well known even before the product reached outlets and the ads saw over a million hits in the first two weeks. CEAT Tyres used the medium for the first time in the #Beidiotsafe campaign with videos on YouTube and other social networks.

L'Oreal India used - and still uses - the medium actively to break new campaigns across its portfolio (L'Oreal Paris, Garnier & Maybelline New York) to create engagement with news on the official tie-ups. Even an unlikely brand such as Asian Paints has created a YouTube Channel with specific videos that encapsulate the 'painting process'.

Auto major Honda made four digital films to promote its new car, Mobilio. The brand leveraged comedy king Kapil Sharma's on-screen (Comedy Nights with Kapil on Colors) and online fame, and signed him on to feature in the digital ad films for Mobilio. Besides, Honda recently released the first episode of "Discover Amazing India in Honda Amaze" - a web series with author Chetan Bhagat. The web series explored some of the beautiful amazing places in India.

Not to be left behind in the race, the Himalaya Drug Co came out with a campaign, 'My Lakshya', where the video highlighted the disconnect between passion and profession. As people grow up they forget their passion and dreams and end up making compromises and settling for less. Other interesting digital video ad campaigns include FreeCharge, CashKaro and CommonFloor.

Here is the clincher. Of the examples mentioned above, Lenovo, Durex, Pepsi, Google, Ching's Secret, KitKat, McDonald's, L'Oreal, Honda and Himalaya chose only digital. None of these was followed - or preceded - by TV advertising.

What clicks?
Video is being increasingly deployed both for pure play advertising as well as to create branded content. Also unlike TV ads, videos are constrained not by duration, but by how interesting they are. They can be interactive, free-to-air and shared easily.

Video campaigns are largely used to tell brand stories and are not really meant for lead generation activities. So if a brand has a great story to tell, a video is the way forward. "Marketers do not want just an ad. They look for a better script that has the potential to go viral. The product, on the other hand, takes a back seat. This, combined with its economical quotient, makes the digital video a sought-after proposition for marketers," opines Manoj Shroff, producer, Equinox Films.

Online Advertising: The Rise of Video

In the Philips ad with Kapoor, there is no mention about the brand in the two-minute song until the very end. In the ad, Kapoor comes out bedecked with lights (a la Amitabh Bachchan in the song sequence from Yaarana) and goes on to dance, singing a remixed version of "Saara Zamana..." How does Philips benefit?

Vivek Sharma, chief marketing officer, Philips Indian subcontinent, explains that it is important to first entertain and engage the consumer and then reveal in the end who has made this magic possible. "Branding needs to be placed at a point in the video when the consumer begins to think 'who?'" he says. Philips decided on this unconventional approach as it provides an opportunity to make a low involvement category like lighting move into a dynamic and exciting space.

Video campaigns work best where the end result is a function of the brand and not sales. "Performance-based campaigns can be effective if optimised well but it's not really comparable to video campaigns. I don't think we can and should compare the two," states Sanjeev Jasani, sr. vice president, OgilvyOne Worldwide, New Delhi.

Measuring in videos is what Indian marketers know well and are comfortable with, and that is what is leading them to invest in digital videos as well. "Video is a medium they don't just understand but also believe in a big way. Unlike TV, which is interruption advertising, digital needs the video to be more engaging and creative for it to be noticed and - more importantly - shared," opines Rajiv Dingra, CEO, WATConsult, a digital marketing agency.

According to Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice president, marketing and sales, Honda Cars India, almost 70 per cent of the brand's consumer base researches about the car on the internet first. Therefore, launching advertisements on digital media was a perfect fit. "We have been doing digital campaigns since we launched the new CR-V in 2012. Then there was a campaign targeting smartphone users where the car was launched exclusively on the mobile platform," says Sen.

According to Madison Media, almost 75 per cent of TV ad spends was concentrated over just three categories - FMCG, telecom and auto - and these have led the online video charge. "We have also seen newer brands, especially digital and technology companies, launch video advertising on the digital medium," states Shivam Srivastava, director, business development - SEA, India and Australia, Vdopia. For example, Intel went for an online video campaign titled, Inside Dharavi, where it showed young boys using technology to attract foreign tourists to visit the slum. Similarly, used online video campaigns to push its offerings across the web.

Who clicks?
According to comScore one in five internet users watch videos online daily. Bandwidth is improving every quarter, as is mobile internet speed with cheaper 3G plans being introduced one after the other. On an average, a user watches seven hours of online video a month. There are 55 million unique video viewers in the country and that figure is growing exponentially.

With youth being the primary dwellers of the digital space, youth-centric brands favour this medium more. "Digital is where the youth is today, both in terms of time spent as well as focused attention, compared to traditional media. TV is increasingly becoming a second screen whereas a mobile, tablet and/or a PC are the primary screens," says Alok Goel, CEO,

Online Advertising: The Rise of Video
Online Advertising: The Rise of Video

Brands start being loved by consumers when they become unique in the way they communicate. This is the philosophy Himalaya Drug Co follows. "Today's youth is better known as Gen C: The YouTube Generation. Gen C is a powerful new force in consumer culture. It's a term used to describe people who care deeply about Creation, Curation, Connection and Community. And as a brand, to get noticed and loved by the Gen C, one has to come out with out-of-the-box ideas on storytelling on digital medium," explains Vineet Jain, general manager, marketing, consumer products division, The Himalaya Drug Co.

A video can establish a better connect with any audience, much more than a banner or static ad can. With a story in the armour, it has more engaging capability than most other formats. According to Srivastava of Vdopia, a banner ad has a recall value of six hours, a rich media banner can sustain recall for 12 hours whereas a video can generate a recall value of 24 hours and beyond.

From a platform perspective, 2015 will be a bigger year when brands across genres will adopt online video advertising as a preferred marketing medium. "The last year was more of a period of experimentation. In 2015, we will see the main campaign break on digital first and then replicated on TV," says Uday Sodhi, executive vice president and head, digital business, Multi Screen Media.

A compelling story
Storytelling has been at the heart of communication for eternity. Advertising folk are considered to be great storytellers - the consumer is not interested if the story is not great. Digital has freed the brand, brand managers and agencies from the 30-second limit and that has brought storytelling back into the advertising business. A 2-3 minute video, which tells the story, engages the users, makes him feel emotions and compels him to share the video.
Online Advertising: The Rise of Video
Online Advertising: The Rise of Video
Online Advertising: The Rise of Video

For Himalaya Drug Co's Jain, traditional marketing is a functional approach to advertising and is related to a problem and its solution, but with digital, the brand has been able to touch the lives of its consumers. "With digital videos, we are not selling a product, but are trying to impact a consumer's life through the content and storytelling," explains Jain. For brands, both digital and TV have their own place in any marketing campaign and also help achieve different objectives and need different budgets. "At Cashkaro, we do not see digital as an alternative to TV. Though it really helps to test ads on digital first and if they do well, can be used for TV as well," says Swati Bhargava, co-founder,

Digital videos are not substitutes for TVCs, yet. However, measurability is the biggest factor that makes digital videos attractive. Even YouTube has a skip button, which means that only those who choose not to skip, watch the ads. This tells the marketer exactly how many watched the videos and for how long.

The three metrics most used among agencies and brand professionals, when buying digital video ads (according to an October 2013 study from BrandAds), are impressions, clicks and completions. Metrics can be determined best by the marketer's objective behind the campaign. Sodhi points out a challenge. "Digital videos cannot be measured using the same lens that a TVC uses," he adds.

In India, a digital video is measured on CPVs (cost per view), especially when one is evaluating this against a TVC. But the virality factor is used as a key metric to determine the effectiveness of the campaign. The number of times the video is shared, the number of comments it has attracted and the number of times it has been viewed fully, matters as far as effectiveness is concerned.

For Honda, measuring the effectiveness of a digital campaign is easier, as all its digital campaigns are closely followed by product launches and traditional media campaigns, by which time the popularity of the product advertised on digital is already high. "We do not do digital campaigns in isolation. Both in the cases of Mobilio and Amaze, our digital campaigns were closely followed up by the launch of a TV and press campaign. For example, the Kapil Sharma campaign for Mobilio generated three million views - generating buzz about the product much before the extensive TV campaign was launched," reveals Sen.

What happens next? With large brands taking the lead, expect players from smaller product categories to follow. The new year will also see a spurt in online-only videos from categories in which most consumers are on the internet.

A Note From the Editor

Just as smoke heralds a fire, deals are indicators of massive growth in a business. Over the past nine months Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, AOL and Comcast have spent upward of US$2 billion between them to acquire companies which have something or the other to do with video advertising. This is not surprising. Online video advertising is beginning to boom and all the big boys want to be well positioned to play.

In India too, the growth of online video has been truly spectacular. Its share of digital advertising has leapt sixfold in just three years to about Rs 500 crore in 2014-15. And it is nowhere near slowing down. What has led to this spurt in India?

There have been a number of happy developments on the technology front. The continuous improvement in bandwidth means that video ads can be viewed in the first place. Simultaneously, video streaming technology has been getting smarter: video playing platforms can detect the kind of device being used as also the bandwidth available and play the video accordingly. Content delivery networks have sprung up, helping speed up video content.

Video has been a wonderful path to tempt large marketers online. Most of them swear by television advertising, so video is a medium they understand. The creative folks in agencies adore online video because it unshackles them – relatively speaking – from the constraints of time. It is becoming the norm for advertisers to run the short version on television while the one with leisurely storytelling is played online.

Because online advertising can be measured, it has traditionally attracted sales oriented messages. However, video has encouraged brand communication in the truest sense to appear online.

My guess is that after the initial enthusiasm wears off, marketers will return to measuring the performance of video more strictly. Consumers too may find ways of switching video off. There will also be the issue of creating a common metrics for measuring video performance on both television and online. While there may be some reverses, the wave of video promises to roll on.


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