Digital Video, the Newest Advertising King


In the last month, you’ve probably seen a digital video advertisement. Let’s be honest, you probably saw at least one today. It may even have been minutes ago. But there is one major new way that digital video is starting to be consumed by the masses: native social media advertising.

Finding your brand’s niche

Brands have begun to find and capitalize on their specific social media niches. Rather than try to put ad content on every social platform, companies are seeing where they do best, and centering their choices off of that. Take Lancôme, for instance. As a very visual-centered cosmetic retail brand, it makes sense to use more than just text to advertise to their customers. Enter Instagram’s ad platform. The brand believes that Instagram’s more tried and true video ads promise more success than the new pre-roll Facebook ads, allowing for a more guaranteed cost-per-benefit analysis. Other brands, like Jim Beam, have seen more success with Facebook’s autoplay feature for ads, while choosing just to produce organic content on Instagram.

“Examine the consumer behavior within each given social platform to understand how they typically engage, not only within the platform itself, but with brands as well. With that insight in mind, understand the usage and the behavior. Then, go back and tackle the question of how to tailor the messaging.”

Brian Chang, Assistant Vice President of Media, L’Oréal Lancôme USA

Ads that don’t seem like ads

Sometimes good internal ad content isn’t enough. Brands like Nike and Mercedes-Benz hired outside talent Casey Neistat to create original content that tangentially related to a product. One example is Neistat’s video advertising a Nike Fuel Band. The content creator took all the money he was given for the video and put it towards a ten-day trip around the world, filming everything along the way. What you get is an authentic video that makes viewers want the product (I know I did).

And what about native advertising? Those tweets by people you don’t follow that surreptitiously show up in your Twitter or Facebook newsfeed or YouTube sidebar? They are specifically designed to not take you out of your online experience, unlike blinking sidebar ads the majority of internet users have become good at ignoring and still hate anyways. Sometimes they are even catered to a user’s specific viewing habits, which works to increase CTR while providing authentic content to promote brand loyalty and trust.

Lenovo took an interesting stance when they partnered with satirical website The Onion. They created a mockumentary focused on fantasy football called Tough Season. While, at first, it may be difficult to make a connection between a computer company and the NFL, this is an example of advertising without a specific product in mind. Lenovo hoped to familiarize millenials with the brand and place the company as the computer sponsor for the NFL by providing fun and specialized content.

“Your content should feel native to [your publishing] partner. That way, while the audience recognizes that advertisers are going to pay to reach them, you can do it in a way that feels more organic to what content they normally consume. And it’ll drive a higher likelihood of engagement and more positive reception.”

Kevin Berman, Director of Advertising and Marketing Services, Lenovo

Creating a new platform

For social media sites like Tumblr and Vine, their success is found in creating their own video platform. Vine, who sets itself apart by only allowing 6 second videos, has caused a turnaround usage of video on different social media sites. Since sites like Facebook can’t play Vine videos directly on the page, brands are taking the six-second video limit and using that style elsewhere. Vine has the potential to grow into an official ad platform, yet as with previous social media sites, many brands aren’t sold on its limitations (it should also be noted that many brands weren’t sold on the 140 character limit for Twitter at first either). For Yahoo-owned Tumblr, a social media platform, which started as a photo and gif-heavy blogging site, has morphed into one that aspires to be a video-centric content platform. Tumblr has experimented with native advertising for a while now, but their push to focus on native video advertising is a new twist. Music streaming services Pandora and Spotify have also integrated native advertising into their marketing plans.

The biggest and brightest upcoming platform is Snapchat. While it may seem difficult to understand why an app that allows users to send disappearing photos has become so widely acclaimed, it is easy to see in the bigger picture the company has in mind. Yesterday, Snapchat released Discover, a new way of allowing companies to get their content to users. Unlike their ad platform, which debuted with an ad for the movie Ouija, Discover allows users to pick and choose from content generators that they might enjoy: from CNN to Vice to the Food Network. Each piece of content is created specifically for Snapchat, which a seamless, swipeable experience. Don’t want to find out about National Geographic’s “Cuteness at a Baby Sloth Orphanage?” Swipe left for the “World’s Best Trips.”

“Context matters. I certainly wouldn’t put YouTube in the same bucket as Facebook and Twitter, and separating Tumblr out as the platform with context is what differentiates us. Our platform is not necessarily based on who you know, but around the passions and the things that you love.”

Lee Brown, Global Head of Brand Partnerships, Tumblr


In a June 2014 report by Cisco, it was predicted that 80-90% of global consumer traffic would be video by 2018, due to the current rapid social media push towards media. While Google-owned YouTube generates the most video traffic currently, social media platform Facebook is also rising in usage––and could potentially surpass the video platform in the coming years. Facebook’s video efficacy was demonstrated this past summer with the slew of Facebook videos for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (yeah, we did it too). Participants were more likely to upload their videos to Facebook than YouTube, according to an eMarketer report, since they could use Facebook’s tagging and privacy features. From the beginning of June to the beginning of September, over 17 million videos were uploaded and viewed more than 10 billion times.

Obviously, video is a valuable digital marketing tool, and like all marketing tools, it must be used correctly. Viewers are, now more than ever, open to being reached through the spectrum of video, in social media, and in some cases, native advertising. There is no easy and fast video ad development process yet, at least not a good one. So step back and step out of your boxes. Think outside of your other ideas. People like Neistat have already paved the way for creative invention, and sometimes, all it takes is a small spark of an idea to yield an impressive result.