By the time you’ve finished reading this sentence, 30 hours of videos will have been uploaded to YouTube. It sounds like a lot (well, it is a lot) but people can’t get enough video content. As of February, YouTube users were watching nearly 1 billion hours of videos per day. At the same time, personalization helps marketers get better results. Putting the two together—should marketers focus on personalized video?
CMOs say yes. In 2013, Hanley-Wood Business Media found that 78% of CMOs believed “custom content is the future.” Nearly five years later, technology creates an opportunity for marketers to bring that personalization to video content.
“A one-size-fits-all commercial wastes our time,” says Eric Frankel, CEO of AdGreetz. “People prefer commercials that talk to them about the products they’re interested in. So we take a commercial and create a million different versions.”
The case for personalized video
The amount of video, particularly mobile video, content has exploded over the last few years. Cisco even estimates that video will account for 82% of all Internet traffic by 2021. And with demand, there is supply. Marketers are increasingly prioritizing video; 52% of them name video as the content with the best ROI, according to Syndacast.
At the same time, the amount of video content out there is overwhelming, which poses a challenge. There’s always another video to watch. Our attention spans are shorter than ever—even shorter than that of a goldfish. (Does that Microsoft stat sound familiar? You have definitely heard it at a marketing conference, but probably forgot, due to your short attention span.)
People start a lot more videos than they actually finish. Just like with emails, personalization can help videos stand out.
“It has a wow factor,” says Guy Atzmon, SVP of Creative & Industry Solutions at SundaySky. “Personalized video lights people up and brings them delight, but it’s so much deeper than that. If you’re able to tap into more personal information about a viewer and do something meaningful with it, that’s where the magic happens.”
How does it work?
AdGreetz and SundaySky both utilize the abundant data—demographic, social, purchase, viewing, all of it—available today to create personalized videos for brands.
The former’s technology adds an edit before an ad’s first frame, using a naming tool to insert any number of first names, either spoken or written on a graphic. Different versions of the creative serve ads to consumers based on variables such as demographics and interests.
“Our device tells us, ‘You live in this part of New York and the nearest Macy’s is here.’ Rather than ending abruptly, the ad will then show you that particular Macy’s,” explains Frankel. “It’s a super fast editing system that pulls data live and makes millions of commercials dynamically.”
Personalized video isn’t always so blatant. Atzmon points out that Facebook only lets advertisers get so granular; name-level targeting violates the platform’s terms and conditions. Marketers can also serve users personalized video based on product interest, subtle enough that they may not even realize it’s personalized.
“If you look at a specific lawnmower on The Home Depot’s website, we can show you that lawnmower within a video,” he says. “We’re also able to show you the relevant pricing for your area—prices vary to match local markets—and let you know if in-store pick-up is available.”
Marketo invited people to its Marketing Nation Summit with personalized video, putting their names on the famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, sign. Indian ecommerce giant Flipkart includes personalized GIFs in its cart abandonment emails. Cadbury drew on Facebook data to create custom videos, which earned a 65% click-through rate and a 33.6% conversion rate.
Marketers are already deploying this strategy, though it’s still not commonplace. Yet. Frankel, a former Warner Bros. executive, predicts a slow-and-steady-until-it’s-explosive adoption similar to the one he experienced with video on demand in the TV world.
Atzmon adds that a few years ago, consumers may have been turned off by personalized videos. But companies like Amazon and Netflix have made people value, and even expect, personalization.
“People are viewing it as the norm,” he says. “You’re always going to have the highly-produced videos, but I definitely think personalized video is going to become a bigger part of the mix. But not just doing it for the sake of doing it as a shiny new object. Creating a blend of overt and more subtle personalization using data in smart ways, that’s where it really shines value to the user as well as the brand.”