Christmas ads now have three times as many shares on social media than Super Bowl ads, and with growing content overload the pressure for brands to deliver on video is scaling new heights.
Adding measurement to the sharing of social video, Unruly has been a London tech start-up success that 12ahead has tracked over the years. Now with a global focus and one of the fastest growing tech organisations in recent years, co-founder Sarah Wood looks back at the past 12 months and outlines some predictions for 2015.
The evolution of Facebook video this year, most importantly when it decided to make its view counts public, signals a wider industry concern with metrics that will only increase in 2015.
“We were really hopeful at the beginning of the year that we’d see some great commercial video, and it has been a really strong year for content,” she says. “Having the Super Bowl, then the winter Olympics and the World Cup was really good news. I was hoping for a 1-billion-view commercial video (hits like Gangnam Style have already achieved this, although nothing from a commercial standpoint has reached this). We really saw the potential for that to be a massive hit this year.”
One of Unruly’s products, ShareRank, predicts the shareability of an ad before it launches. It claims do this with 80% accuracy, with local algorithms however this increases to approximately 90%.
Wood explains the tool tallies emotional and psychological triggers as well as social motivations to get a score about who, how and where people are sharing your video. “Most importantly it tells you how much earned media you can expect,” she says.
Break away from content shock
Since 2013 the speed of sharing has doubled, Wood explains. “Now 42% of all video shares of commercial content takes place within the first three days. This has huge implications for brands launching a video. They need to go hard and go fast, the wait and see approach won’t work.”
Despite this the rate of sharing has decreased. Until this year it has always been exponential, but now there’s a decrease in share rates which is down to content shock, a term theorised at the beginning of the year, accounting for the overwhelming amount of content out there.
“There is 300 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute,” says Wood, “there are 25 million marketing posts created every 24 hours.”
While nothing is simple in creating engaging content, there are key cornerstones that brands can still take into account.
Have a strong intense emotional connection – “We have over 100 variables of sharing,” says Wood, “the one with the most impact is the intensity of psychological sharing. So it’s really important to make a deep strong connection. People need to be laughing out loud, they wont share it if they’re just smiling.”
Diversity of social motivation – “Each of these functions very differently, they range from wanting to look good – kudos, to wanting to be first, wanting to have optimum differentiation (ie be part of a tribe but different) and altruism. You don’t need to hit them that intensely but you need to hit as many as you can because they are so diverse and so subjective.”
Trends for 2015
Interestingly, Wood predicts there will be a backlash towards ‘sadvertising’ – people will be less willing to share the content brands produce that have tugged on our heartstrings. Although on the up will be the opportunities for brands to parody and satirise each other.
She points out that blanket broadcasting is an old tactic, and new technologies like beacons and geo-fencing means that more brands are exploring selective sharing. We’re nearing the point where videos will be shown in a 1 meter radius, you could be walking down a shopping aisle for instance, and see a promotional discount for a product. Making it relevant for that audience here is more valuable.
“That’s never going to be share-able but it is informational, so there are different types of content and they have different types of roles. You can think of it like Hero content (your Super Bowl or Christmas ad) which drives awareness, advocacy, owned media and brand uplift. And there’s also Hygiene content, explaining what your product does, it’s informative.”
YouTube is no longer the sole arbiter of whether a video is successful
The evolution of Facebook video this year, most importantly when it decided to make its view counts public (September 2014) signals a wider industry concern with metrics that will only increase in 2015.
“Counting views is fine but it’s usually an indicator of paid media,” says Wood. “You buy views on YouTube, or Facebook or the open web. This has differentiated because of the proliferation of different platforms like Vine and Instavideo. We’re now counting things like loops too so there are more metrics. Hopefully brands will see that there’s more to just watching a counter tick up and will look more into why people engage, what has brought them there. The smart brands are creating long-term content strategies, yes they want share-ability but they are interested in who is sharing and why.”
Delivering viewability is also a key goal in 2015 for Unruly particularly. With the industry concerned with fraud and fake views Unruly has created a platform allowing buyers to transact on viewable video impressions programmatically, UnrulyX. “This is something we feel passionate about,” Wood explains. “It’s supposed to be social video not anti-social video, putting the user in control and creating content the user wants to watch and share so it’s really important we have robust metrics to support this.”