By Stacy Lambert - June 10th, 2015

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At this very moment, YouTube ad viewers everywhere are hovering their little cursors over the infamous rectangular “You can skip this ad” button. Their eyes are glued to the 5-second countdown as they anticipate their next move. When it reaches zero, they will hammer the skip button and begin watching the video of their choice without further interruption.

Trigger-happy in-stream ad viewers are opting to skip the commercial before they realize what the video is advertising, and therein lies the problem.  STRATA, a leading company in media buying and selling software, conducted a survey on 654 online video watchers from March 30 – April 6, 2015.  Their study revealed that 41% of viewers skip the ad before they recognize the product or brand being advertised.  Of these viewers, 12% skip because they weren’t interested, 15% skip because the ad was too lengthy, and 20% skip because they’ve seen the ad before.  
STRATA’s survey results do not support the Media Rating Council’s (MRC) leading industry advice for ad viewership.  In the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s State of Viewability Transaction 2015, the MRC stated that ad viewership should be calculated when videos are in view for at least 2 seconds with 50% of pixels in sight. According to STRATA’s survey, only 25% of respondents were able to identify a brand or product within 2 seconds; all other viewers needed at least 3 seconds to establish brand or product recognition.  Furthermore, the survey revealed that 44% of respondents needed 4 seconds or longer to identify.
As 21st century video ad marketers, you are faced with an interesting challenge:  How do you establish successful brand and product identity before running the risk of ad skipping within 5 seconds?  Better yet, how do you minimize the occurrence of ad skipping?  Here are 3 ways to achieve successful branding in video advertisements:

Announce Your Brand and Product Within the First Few Seconds 

In Coca Cola’s 2012 “Move to the Beat of London” ad, the product image is first to appear on screen. Within the first 4 seconds, a hand lifts open a shiny red cap labeled “Coca Cola,” inducing a mystic-like carbonation fizzle.  Immediate product placement allows viewers to recognize the purpose of the advertisement before they have a chance to skip it.     

Establish Engaging Content that Viewers Will Not Want to Skip

Not all successful video ads announce brand and product immediately.  As long as the video hooks viewers and plays to their emotions, they may stick around to watch the entire ad.  In fact, the STRATA study revealed 45% of respondents would voluntarily watch an entertaining ad instead of skipping it.
Budweiser’s 2014 emotion-gripping commercial, “Puppy Love,” was voted top commercial by Hulu viewers and was ranked high on USA’s Ad meter.  
The opening scene featured several young Labrador retrievers so lovable that even the most stone hearted person wouldn’t resist watching.  Brand recognition was not prompted until the introduction of the famous Budweiser Clydesdale at the 10-second mark and the small appearance of the logo on the right corner at the 25-second mark, nearly halfway through the video.

Whether you decide to evoke emotion and entertain viewers through humorous celebrities, exciting special effects, or tear-jerking puppy love, be sure to engage viewers in a gripping story from start to finish.  

Target Your Viewers

In the 2015 STRATA survey, 57% of female respondents and 43% of male respondents indicated that video ads were targeted accurately to their interests.  33% of all respondents said they would voluntarily watch a targeted ad.  
Through a simple video ad, the Dollar Shave Club succeeded in marketing towards their niche group of young adult males. The company brilliantly used self-deprecating humor and authenticity to address the needs of their target consumers.  Matching the voice and tone of their target demographics, their slogan, “Our blades are f**cking great,” was a hit among viewers.
Humor plays a large factor in viewer success rate.  52% of STRATA survey respondents said they would voluntarily watch a humorous commercial.  Through humor and a relatable voice, the Dollar Shave Club successfully engaged their target group.
As you can see, there’s more than one way to achieve successful branding in online video ads.  By taking reliable research and best practices into consideration, you will increase product and brand recognition. 
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