Video Content Targeting is King

It feels like I can finally tread water after all of those case studies that we’ve released over the weeks. If you haven’t taken a gander at them, yet, head over to the ‘Dailies’ main page here to educate yourself.

In the wake of all of the scrutiny aimed towards Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, there has been a discussion about data, privacy, and how they relate to ads. I mean, you look up nightstands one time and then you’re inundated with sponsored ads featuring — wait for it — nightstands. Ridiculous.

According to a new study conducted by IPG Mediabrands resource Magna and IPG Media Lab and reported by Adweek’s Lisa Lacy, content targeting is the preferred method of getting your video content in front of eyeballs. Today, we’ll dissect what content targeting is and how it applies to creating compelling cinematic productions.


Content Targeting?
Content targeting is the method in which video ads will play before other videos of like-content. For example, if you’re going to watch a YouTube video of cats, then the content targeted ad would be something like Meow Mix (I want chicken, I want liver…). That method is different than demo targeting, which uses demographic signals to reach audiences, or channel targeting, which will play appropriate ads according to the channel.

Simply put, audiences reacted more favorably towards content targeted ads because it was relevant to the thing they were already watching. A representative of the study, which focused on YouTube, asserts that “because YouTube is an intent-based platform, aligning video ads with relevant content is a key for consumer experience, without the broad strokes targeting of channels and demographics.”

People will seek out content, actively, on YouTube––shouldn’t the advertisements be a reflection of that intentionality? The numbers don’t lie. The content targeted ads boasted a 34% higher completion rate than the other methods of targeting. Furthermore, they found that content targeted ads were 33% less intrusive than demographic or channel targeting, since it doesn’t rely on data. That seems like an odd stat… “Oh, this knife in my gut is 33% less intrusive than those other knives.” Weird.


The Implications
We see this study as a confirmation of what we’ve believed for a long time. People crave stories, and they’re willing to hear them when they align with content they’re already consuming. As creatives, we see the emotional potential in the numbers––those numerical indicators mean that we can resonate with someone as they’re connecting with another piece of storytelling. Let’s go through some of our most recent examples of exemplary storytelling and how they’ve been applied to target audiences with similar content:

Audio-Technica and Twitch Gamers
Our collaboration with Audio-Technica and Twitch gamers has been one of our more fruitful endeavors. On YouTube, there is a huge market for watching gamers play and their highlight reels. It’s astounding how influential these online gamers can be––how could we tap this market?

Audio-Technica’s team smartly partnered with Twitch gamers to create story-driven, comedic spots to highlight the sarcastic, pithy gamer culture, especially the community’s affinity for genre storytelling. The ‘Gamer Monk’ spots, directed by Sean Davé, harnessed the Tarantino-style, Lord of the Rings-esque situation of a gamer climbing the tallest peak in the realm to find the mystical mentor with the magical headphones. Leveraging the influence of Tim the Tatman and Summit1G worked like gangbusters. The playthrough rates for those content targeted pieces was 28%. Typically, brands strive for 22% playthrough rates. Not bad.

Likewise, the ‘Alien’ spot was a huge success. Again, we leaned into the corny, self-deprecating humor tinged with Sci-Fi with popular gamers, Lirik and GoldGlove. The video on YouTube has garnered almost 2.9 million views. That piece played in front of YouTube videos as well as, so it’s been seen by many more people than the natural views indicate. Even more impressive, only about ½ of the comments are trolls, which I count as a win.

Sony Pictures
Another huge market in the YouTube space is the film criticism/discussion. Well… more like petty bashing in the name of snarky entertainment. How do you reach audiences of that magnitude to make them aware of new Blu-ray for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle? You tell them a story.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is Sony Pictures’ highest grossing film to date, which is wild (ha). Clearly, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is like King Midas––every project he touches with his muscular, demigod-like hands turns to gold. Paired with Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black… that’s almost unfair. We created two pieces of content alongside Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, focusing on the irreverent comedy and the immersive, family-oriented spectacle of the film. Our ‘Weakness’ and ‘Family Movie Night’ spots, directed by Sean Davé, were content targeted. Their Blu-ray/DVD discs debuted at Number 1 for the week of March 24th. Also, it’s been reported that 58% of their total units sold is comprised of their Blu-ray/DVD discs (Variety). Not claiming full responsibility for that success… but we’re success adjacent.


Our whole belief system behind video content is how can we reach an audience with a story. When you hook someone emotionally and they become invested in what you’re doing, then you’re going to achieve a much greater success than trying to sell them something. The study as reported by Adweek only bolstered our commitment to creating story-driven content. As the year progresses, we’re antsy about the opportunities we have to create even more compelling, cinematic productions.

By Benton Olivares