While video advertising has established itself as an effective channel, brands continue to search for ways to improve engagement and conversion. This article encourages advertisers to explore the use of branded videos as a monetization medium in online games and suggests some strategies to achieve superior performance and increase engagement through user incentives.

Marketers Are Embracing Branded Online Video Marketing

On-demand video platform Brightcove and video analytics company TubeMogul recently released their Online Video & the Media Industry Quarterly Research Report – Q4 2010 , a comprehensive account of online video discovery, usage and engagement. Coincidentally, research firm eMarketer also published 7 Trends for Video Advertising Engagement that highlights the emphasis marketers put on engagement metrics as a measure of campaign success.

The numbers are telling. Online video advertising spending continues to grow and is expected to reach more than one-third of US display ad spending in 2014. Concurrently, brand engagement has seen a massive 98% increase and completion rates have passed 50% for the first time. Interestingly, the 25-34 age range – especially women in this group – demonstrate the highest engagement rates, as do those in the $150K+ annual income bracket. Therefore, as the Brightcove and TubeMogul report notes, online video “presents an ideal opportunity for advertisers seeking highly engaged audiences with substantial disposable income”.

Just over a year ago, TechCrunch ran an excellent piece about the 12 Surprising Things Holding Back Online Video Advertising. Many of the hurdles highlighted then still remain, such as the lack of definitions and standards as well as unpredictable consumption patterns among users. However, the use of branded video content as a monetization medium in online games via an ad-funded payments platform helps overcome some of the challenges related to more controlled distribution as well as relevant targeting.

Social games are potentially giving daytime TV a run for its money as budgets move online from television. Interestingly, studies reveal that these too appeal strongly to younger women across the globe. Therefore, video advertisers are well advised to consider this still relatively new but fast growing channel. Also of note is that advertisers who extend their footprint to online and social games now deal with ‘users’ rather than simply ‘watchers’. This significant switch from passive to active consumers is of considerable importance.

Branded Video Engagement via Virtual Currency Incentives

The idea is simple – users watch branded videos and, in return, receive virtual currency for their favorite online games or apps. This option is either presented to users at the point-of-sale within the game or app (evidence shows this alternative method enhances regular payment options in the long run rather than cannibalizing them) or promoted via banners and other notification tools, both in-game as well as across the site.

For advertisers, this is an excellent channel to develop tangible brand engagement for a variety of reasons. First, effective targeting helps deliver specific content to desired viewers. Next, since users are only rewarded when videos are watched in their entirety, campaigns have lower risk and are easier to track. Finally, monetization platforms usually allow users to choose from an assortment of videos, thereby ensuring the engagement is voluntary rather than obligatory. Additionally, being perceived as a ‘sponsor’ of virtual currency by users also helps advertisers build positive brand sentiment.

How to Maximize The Impact and Monetization of Brand Videos

Those looking to maximize the benefits of this particular medium should also explore one or more of the following ideas:

1. Make the video interactive

While something along the lines of the Tippex campaign is not necessarily the ideal way to go (unless you’re aiming purely for viral distribution), a touch of interactivity can help keep users engaged.

2. Include a call-to-action at the end

This can be something as simple as a share feature (post to Twitter/Facebook etc.) or something more involved such as a short survey. Remember that the user at this point has already fulfilled his/her part of the original contract (watching a video in return for virtual currency) and any further action(s) might need to be incentivized via special discounts, promo codes, more virtual currency etc.

3. Use in conjunction with branded virtual content

Branded virtual goods are an excellent advertising opportunity in their own right and an area most games publishers are ever eager to discuss since research reveals they achieve ten times the interaction level of their non-branded counterparts. However, specifically in this context, they can be particularly useful in exploring an ‘end-to-end’ campaign of sorts that has users interacting with branded videos to earn branded virtual content. While such an undertaking certainly demands more effort, it allows advertisers to reap the rewards of a truly immersive experience for users.

PS If you’re new to the concept, it’s worth checking out the Branded Virtual Goods Market Report from our friends at Viximo.

Branded Video Presents a New Opportunity for Direct Marketers

From our own experience, branded videos as a monetization medium have achieved excellent results with conversion rates higher than 80%. Indeed, the channel has come a long way from didactic infomercial-esque content and presents tremendous opportunity for new types of brand management, customer engagement and direct-response marketing. As the channel continues to grow and develop, we look forward to more innovative campaigns.