By David Spencer, commercial director MENA, FreeWheel
Video advertising is a highly engaging format and with digital video revenues and viewership across MENA set to grow more than 20 percent a year until 2021, it represents an exciting opportunity for advertisers to connect with audiences.
But, to take full advantage of video, advertisers need to adapt to continually evolving consumer habits. With TV and digital video increasingly fragemented across multiple platforms, viewing on mobile devices increasing, and second-screening now the norm, advertisers need to ensure their strategies capitalise on these trends.
A solid plan of action is particularly crucial during prime periods such Ramadan, or major sporting events when TV and video viewership peaks, and well-executed campaigns can make a significant difference to audience engagement. Just this year, the participation of five MENA teams in the 2018 World Cup, saw associated content consumption escalate, providing unique opportunities for advertisers. This is likely to be even more marked when the World Cup is held in the region in 2022.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at changing behaviours shaping TV and video consumption, and explore how advertisers can use these to boost the effectiveness of video advertising.
While linear TV is still by far the easiest way to access content, the video consumption options available to consumers are continually expanding. Despite over-the-top (OTT) delivery being restricted by limited broadband penetration in some parts of the region, online viewing is still making significant advances, accounting for over 30 percent of total TV viewing. As broadband and mobile Internet services improve, the growth of OTT viewing will continue, driven by consumer desire for high quality, localized video content that can be accessed whenever and wherever they want it. And for the viewer, no distinction will be made between live broadcast content and on-demand video. It will all be TV.
Advertisers don’t need to shift their entire TV budget to AVOD solutions and digital live streaming to make the most of this OTT trend, but they could consider incorporating some of these premium channels into the video advertising mix to achieve incremental and powerful reach. With on-demand platforms, viewers have more control over what they watch and when they watch it, selecting programmes that suit their state of mind, meaning they are more engaged with content and more receptive to ads that accompany it. In addition, multiple targeting opportunities add significant value to the digital video market.
Another advantage of providing TV-quality content in a digital environment is that it allows for better measurement of major KPIs, such as viewability and completion rates. Premium video also allows for the use of sophisticated tools to ensure brand safety, fraud protection and transparency.
A second behavioral shift in video consumption is a move away from the traditional TV screen towards mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. Even for live broadcast TV, 30 percent of viewers regularly watch on a laptop while 22 percent use a mobile phone, and these figures are higher for on-demand viewing.
To make the most of on-the-move viewing, advertisers need to ensure ads are executed seamlessly across all screens and devices, delivering a positive user experience. Video advertising on connected devices opens up new opportunities to engage users through dynamic, customized and interactive features, for instance by enabling viewers to control or customize their ad experience.
When it comes to devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, advertisers can also access insightful data that can be used for audience targeting and personalization, ensuring the ad aligns with the viewer’s interests or needs. As programmatic advertising grows deeper roots in the MENA region, advertisers can leverage this technology to increase speed and efficiency, ensuring that their ads are seen by the right audiences at the right time, via their channel of choice.
Even when viewers are accessing video content via the traditional TV set, they are highly likely to have a second screen to hand. With over 70 percent of Internet users in the Middle East and Africa – across every generation from Baby Boomers to Generation Z – engaging with their mobile phone while watching TV, second-screening is now mainstream viewing behaviour.
Given the distraction of the second screen, advertisers must take extra care to ensure their TV ads are captivating, delivering a relevant and entertaining message and paying attention to ad length and frequency. But advertisers can also use the second screen to their advantage, encouraging viewers to visit the brand website or interact via social channels to gain exclusive content or offers.
The new TV and video ecosystem presents both opportunities and challenges for advertisers. If they develop their video strategies in line with TV fragmentation, mobile video viewing and second screening, they can reach their target audience with an engaging message that delivers an optimum user experience. In order to do so, they must be willing to deal with the complexities that these many devices and user journeys create, to ensure the highest standards are being met when it comes to measurement, viewability, and completion rates.
To thrive in this competitive and complex environment, it’s crucial to build long-standing and trusted relationships with innovative industry partners, to ensure maximum transparency, reach and performance.
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