Using online video ads to reach new customers

Feb. 18, 2010

The popularity of online video has caused a major shift in the way Americans consume media. Nielsen estimates that in December 2009, there were 137 million viewers of online video in the United States, watching an average of 193 minutes of video each. 

With more people than ever watching video on their computers, does it really make sense to pour money into TV commercials rather than tap creative content for online distribution? 

Online video ads offer premier engagement metrics, and offer one of the best ways to use your videos online. Many of today's online video-ad platforms also enable you to pinpoint precisely which customers you want to reach by demographic, location and more. 

Round Table Pizza, a restaurant chain from Menlo Park, Calif., with more than 500 locations, worked with its media agency to create and run a series of 30-second online video ads using their existing TV spot. They ran the spots on a network of local newspaper, radio and TV station Web sites as in-banner placements. 

Taking advantage of the flexibility of the online medium, Round Table added custom interactivity in its ads to boost response rates. After viewers watch a Round Table commercial, they are given options such as finding a restaurant near them, accessing a coupon for that restaurant, or sharing the ad on Facebook. In fact, their video ad acts more like an interactive app than a traditional online video. 

The in-banner video ads yielded strong results, performing nearly twice as well than typical online display ads both in terms of click-through rate and interaction rate. 

Here are some tips for successfully making the leap from TV to online video ads: 
Include calls to action in your ads Unlike a TV commercial, where advertisers can only suggest that customers "come in today" or "visit our Web site," the online video format allows you to add immediate calls-to-action. When transferring a commercial online, make sure you include a clickable link to your company's Web site, as well as your phone number and address. Also consider including a printable coupon and maybe even a link to your local online directory listing using a teaser such as "Check out our great reviews on Yelp!" 
Make your ads interactive If you really want to increase the power of your marketing videos, consider turning your videos into interactive apps. Some online video ad companies now allow you to add custom Flash or HTML applets directly into your video ads — such as a store locator, interactive maps and menus — so viewers can interact with the ad without ever leaving the player. Interactive video ads instantly measure viewers' responses by tracking their real-time interactions, instead of just measuring views or clicks. 
Ensure your ads are reaching the right audience Getting your ads onto premium local Web sites is critical for fast casual restaurants, because effective local targeting will ensure you're hitting an audience that is most likely to take action. Whichever way you choose to distribute your ads, make sure you're able to control which audience sees the ad and that you're targeting within an appropriate geographic radius. 
Measure results One of the best things about online video ads is that they are instantly measurable: You should be able to see immediately whether your ad is actually working to bring new customers in the door. Make sure you review your results as often as possible to see what parts of your online video marketing campaign worked best and which were less successful, and then optimize your ads as needed. You can even carry these lessons into your next TV spot or use online video as a testing ground for more expensive TV campaigns. 
TV spots may still be an important advertising medium for local and national businesses, but with the shift in people's "screen time" rapidly moving from the TV to the Web, it makes sense to turn your TV commercials into online video ads. With just a little bit of work, you can reach both traditional TV audiences as well as highly targeted online audiences with essentially the same content. 

Diaz Nesamoney is founder and CEO of online video advertising service Jivox. He can be reached at


Topics: Marketing / Branding / Promotion

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