We’ve been talking about the expansive eMarketer report, “7 Trends For Online Video Advertising Engagement,” for most of this week, breaking down the first four trends they’ve outlined over two articles (part 1 & part 2). This is our third and final look, focusing on the final three video advertising engagement trends: user control, viral video marketing, and social activity.

Even though we’ve broken our coverage of this report down over three articles, it’s still not doing justice to the mountain of great graphs, data, and case-studies it contains, and I’d encourage you to make some time to read through the whole thing–at least… if you’re concerned about the engagement levels of your videos’ audience.

Trend 5: Control Can Contribute To Engagement

Not only to consumers want choices in their search for video content, they also want choices when it comes to the ads they’re served. Specifically, they’d like some measure of control. And many sites are experimenting with this kind of thing. Some are letting users choose from a list of potential ads. Others give viewers the option to pause or stop an ad.

Bottom line: when the user feels like they have control over the ad experience, they are often much more engaged with it. It’s human nature, really. Think about it… parents and sports coaches and teachers have been doing this sort of thing for ages–let the students (or children) be involved in setting their own goals, challenges, or routines, and they’ll end up more passionate about it than ever.

eMarketer uses a recent Harris Interactive survey to illustrate how much consumers are starting to value “control” online:

Giving viewers a choice related to their ad experience gives them power, and invests them in the outcome whether they realize it or not.

Trend 6: Why Viral Video Ads Engage Consumers

Videos only go viral when they’re shared. Sometimes they’re shared by word of mouth, or by email. Sometimes they’re shared on Facebook, Twitter, or blog networks. But the sharing behavior seems to suggest a level of engagement that is higher than normal.

But making a video go viral is nearly impossible. By definition, viral clips are driven to popularity or obscurity by the viewers, not the brands. But that’s not stopping brands from trying. In fact, half of the brands surveyed have used viral video as a marketing method:

Even though there aren’t any guarantees with viral video marketing, there are things that brands can do to help increase their chances of finding success–like the use of social media campaigns, distribution technology, and more. The report cites 2010’s Old Spice Man phenomenon as an example of how a good roll-out and marketing support strategy can help drive viral activity–the campaign actually began with traditional television spots that were then ported over to the web and supported with a robust social media strategy.

Trend 7: Video & Social Together Can Generate High Engagement

What they’re talking about here is what we’ve started seeing referred to as “social video“–the combination of social media and video. Viral video is good for engagement, as is social media interaction with customers (giving customers a voice and a choice)… put the two to work together, and the odds of high engagement start climbing.

At the end of the day, brands just want to sell more products and services, and pretty much all marketing efforts support that goal in some way. But few people see a Twitter message or branded video and whip out the credit card right away. Because consumers that are more engaged with advertising tend to be more likely to make a purchase (now or in the future), engagement is viewed as a bit of a silver bullet.

In fact, engagement is the #1 reason brands list for why they get involved in social media:

It’s also the most important measurement for brands in evaluating the success of their social media efforts, as illustrated in this chart:

But social media alone likely can’t do the job for brands. It’s a strange, cyclical thing… video actually drives social interaction from consumers, and then that social interaction can help further video marketing efforts. Surveyed customers–a whopping 75% of them–said that an advertisement or a direct social invitation played a direct role in their decision to “like” or “follow” a brand’s social media efforts.


The common denominator is video. I’ll let eMarketer sum up their report themselves, because they do a pretty eloquent job of it:

“If there is a single takeaway from all seven of these trends, it’s that advertising isn’t engagement by itself, but is one of the main catalysts for engagement happening down the line.”

Brands are after engagement with customers, that much is plain as day. While there are many avenues to get there, advertising–specifically video advertising–plays some role in almost all of them. We’ve been saying it for years, but it’s nice to see it supported by such a report: video is more engaging than traditional content forms online. While there are miles to go before brands perfect their strategies in this new digital world, you can bet video will be a part of it regardless.

You can get a full copy of the report here @$695 from eMarketer – and it’s well worth it.