Online Tests for Video Ads Still Not Common
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Marketers airing just a few TV spots have an easier time attributing sales to ad activity, but big-budget TV ad campaigns tend to have big-budget research to go along with them. Many marketers employ services like Nielsen’s Media Tracking service, or Nielsen IAG Engagement Measurement service to see how well their TV ads fared. While this is certainly a valuable service, and far better than any reporting available just a few years ago, it still requires a significant spend on both media and measurement.
One tactic that many boot-strapping video marketers have tried is to create a portfolio of relatively inexpensive video ads, then test them online before committing major media dollars. The easiest way to do this is to simply post an ad on YouTube and sit back to see what the reaction is. YouTube provides a public forum where your ad can be watched by anyone, commented on, lauded, or mocked. For marketers more concerned with the bottom line than with guarding their reputation, this can be an attractive option. For marketers that do need to protect their brand, however, there are a lot of options for online video testing that won’t result in possible PR disasters.
The availability of cheap ad impressions within online airings of prime-time TV shows offers an excellent opportunity to pre-test TV ads in a safe online environment that most closely approximates the audience and experience of the actual TV program. By using pre/post ad effectiveness surveys instead of public postings to gather results, only the marketer sees the praise or backlash, protecting herself from copycat competitors or bad publicity. Judging by the abundance of house ads and PSAs (a.k.a. unsold inventory) within shows like House, The Daily Show, and The Simpsons on the TV site Hulu.com, buys on these sites will still be relatively cheap. Only 3% of the marketers we surveyed are already doing this, so there’s not likely to be much competition yet either.