Don’t Slouch – How Campaigns Can Create More Compelling Video Content
If 2014 taught us anything about the content of video ads, it was this: don’t slouch.
It has been reported this cycle how the ability to target individual segments of voters has created a new challenge for political campaigns: tailored digital content and contextual messaging for each audience. There is no content medium where this question has become more relevant during the 2014 cycle than with online video.
In many cases, video ads served as the most compelling and best performing medium to get a message across, particularly during persuasion efforts. However, it is also the easiest place for advertisers to fumble, by running content that is out of context online – like running a 30–second TV ad with the key message buried in the last five seconds before a user watches Taylor Swift’s latest music video. While there are occasionally TV ads that work online like testimonials, what we learned in 2012 – and put into practice this year – is that general market TV ads typically don’t perform as well as videos created specifically for digital.
How did we come to this conclusion? Through data. Every week, we measured how many people watched the video ads we promoted online from start to finish and each time, the result was the same. While we do still need to make sure that our digital campaigns are visually connected to television – they need to have creative synergy – the ads that performed best were shorter versions of those TV ads or unique digital–only ads that placed the key message at the beginning of the spot.
For example with the DCCC IE, by producing video ads tailored to digital for we saw on average a 50% lift in performance in terms of completion rate vs. the traditional TV ads. Below are two examples from the DCCC IE of how we tailored video content toward online audiences during the 2014 campaign season:
- In the winning race for California’s 52nd Congressional District, we highlighted a candidate’s positions with a play on a popular card game – Cards Against Humanity:
- And in the successful race for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, we laid out the consequences of staying home on Election Day:
In our experience, the best performing ads were those that carried messages tailored to the audiences they targeted and had a tone as well as look and feel produced for the web. The truth is that you can’t always expect to put a TV ad online and see great results. Message, length, and tone matter the most. These metrics can’t be tracked on television, but we can do it online. When we do track the viewability of our video ads, it has led us to a universal recommendation for all our clients – political and otherwise: don’t slouch.
Brands have become increasingly user-driven in how they talk to consumers and this year, political campaigns began to catch up. Many major companies have already invested tens of millions of dollars to make their audiences’ experience better by acting like publishers and creating content newsrooms where tailored website variations and unique digital-only content reign.
It is time that campaigns start to focus on matching their online content to the context in which their audience will see it.