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Has the disappearance of cookies reignited creative video advertising?

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The invention of cookies in 1994 changed the web forever. And with their 'death' in 2023, the fate of the internet hangs in the balance again

The disappearance of cookies has kick-started a new era of innovation in online privacy, and reminded us of techniques honed before the advent of web technology – where creativity and context reigned supreme. 

The difference now is that technology allows creativity and context to be refined like never before.

The impact of the cookie phase-out 

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Tracking is still core to advertising but is now done differently without the support of cookie-based targeting. New tracking methods have encouraged the adoption of alternative advertising strategies. Semantic or text-based analysis forms part of this increasingly advanced contextual matching process. These functions use on-page data to place adverts onto sites and within content that has the highest relevance.

Unlike brands relying on third-party tracking to target their audiences, those using recommendation platforms on the open web rely on sophisticated software to compile and analyse user interests and personas. 

Marketers are looking increasingly to contextually matched or native advertising channels because they do not rely on cookies. Additionally, these methods provide easy, automated placement, and higher Click-Through-Rates (CTRs).

Since the use of native and contextual advertising is increasing in popularity, advertisers now have to think not only about the right advertising method. They need to execute attention-grabbing and perfectly executed advertising content that captures user attention over competitors’ efforts. 

Adverts need to be creatively superior to the competition to stand out and achieve optimal engagement, awareness, or conversions. Flashing banner adverts encourage ad-blindness and low engagement. Similarly, images often fail to capture audiences in the time Google counts as an ad view. 

This has heightened the importance of high-quality video productions to grab people’s attention and beat the saturation of web advertising.

Video advertising - what the research says

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Studies in recent years have proven the efficacy of video advertising. Cisco estimated that 82% of all web traffic will have a video format element by 2021, suggesting web users prefer the medium for entertainment and information. Further research indicates that 50% of consumers would like to see more video content from their preferred brands, with one 2021 study detailing that 60% of marketers see more engagement on video when compared to images on Facebook ads. 

Therefore, video adverts create an optimal environment for top-funnel discovery. Research reveals that the spend on video advertising will double between 2020 and 2023, to a total of $211billion. This suggests the ad format will be a key focus of further exploration for brands.

How to get the best from video campaigns

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To get the best from video channels, quality must be prioritised. Invest in quality production values to capture people immediately and overcome the ever-tempting ‘Skip’ button. 

Aside from quality, creativity is equally vital in garnering immediate user attention. There are several ways to achieve this; engaging narration with a voice resembling the targeted demographic is effective, as are interesting narratives, originality, and visual action. Pacing relevant information throughout the 6-22 second range is a great way to achieve maximum impact.

Advert intent should align with the call to action (CTA). This means an advert designed to drive revenue and boost conversion should direct to products, promotions, or commerce landing pages. Likewise, an advert designed for awareness should ask users to find out more through additional video content or home site navigation. 

When it comes to formats, if the goal is developing leads, skippable in-stream ads are worth considering as users that stay beyond the skip button are primed for further targeting because they have demonstrated interest in the content. For brand awareness and reach, non-skippable in-stream ads will sustain user attention, delivering more brand information, recognition, and recall. 

Regardless of best practices, video adverts will deliver better results if they appear in contextually relevant places, to interested audiences.  

Contextual advertising - creativity’s counterpart

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Consumers don’t want to see generic, irrelevant ads that interrupt their user experience - whether in video or other mediums. Not only do irrelevant ads undermine brand credibility, they actively decrease trust and return on ad spend (ROAS). 

With contextual advertising, marketers focus on the user's recent online discovery, interests, and page content rather than bombarding users with spam messaging that does little else but irritate them. This means adverts are considered an addition to existing content, rather than a distractor. Indeed, the IAB found 84% of consumers feel advertising within news publishers’ environments increases or maintains brand trust.

Research from Lumen tested the attention received by adverts with varying degrees of contextual matching. An advert with no contextual matching in image or text received the lowest engagement, while a test advert that matched contextually to text but not video did marginally better. The advert contextually matched to video and text engaged the test group the most. With 95% attention gained, the fully contextual advert delivered a 10% increase in engagement, directly supporting the efficacy of contextual targeting.

Once the right environment, context, and creative methods are applied, video ads will be granted more time and attention from users, increasing awareness or conversion-based KPIs. Naturally, choosing the right tech vendor with the experience and technology to implement contextual video advertising is crucial

Harnessing context and video creativity going forward

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Video can increase top and bottom-funnel objectives over traditional image formats. However, ad producers must first adhere to the best visual practices for adverts to be successful, as poor production values are easily spotted by users. 

Above all, advertisers and businesses must understand that the contextual relevance of an advert is a key determinant in user reception and engagement. 

To enable video advertising, budgets need to be adjusted, and channel mixes must move beyond paid social and image-based methodologies to extract the best performance possible from advertising campaigns. 

By Kai Henniges, CEO & Co-Founder at Video Intelligence

Header image by Atticus Durnell

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