By Phil Townend, Gavin Buxton

Don’t value meaningless reach over meaningful experiences, say IAB Singapore board members Phil Townend of Unruly and Gavin Buxton of SpotX.

At its core, a media planner’s job is pretty straightforward: Plan and deliver media that would, based on available data, deliver the best outcome for our client. That hasn’t changed in a digital world of increased fragmentation and complexity, and if anything this tenet has as much if not more relevance in 2018.

However, what we see are increasingly similar media schedules for all types of video assets and KPI’s, even to the point where justifications of the media choices are backward engineered to rationalise use of certain platforms or partners.

For example, a media schedule that recommends a two-minute video would be best distributed in a social newsfeed known to be excellent at delivering short, sharp video views but fractional view throughs on ads longer than 15 seconds. Or a recommendation that a 90 second video be played out programmatically on a ‘forced CPM pre-roll’ execution that results in a 2% full completion rate.  

In both of these scenarios the client invested a significant amount in production and the creative agency crafted an emotive brand asset, which never was really seen by audiences who closed the video player when faced with a non-skippable 90-second ad.

The danger here is that the lower completion rates associated with interruptive video ads are being interpreted as falling consumer attention and clients are being advised that storytelling no longer works. This against a backdrop of consumers binge viewing for hours on Netflix!

In a world where we seem to value meaningless ‘reach’ exposures over meaningful experiences, the brands and agencies that win will be those that understand their consumer touch points and employ a creative strategy which employs different lengths and assets to support those touch points.  

This emerging art of platform-sensitive creative planning needn’t be expensive or arduous if we understand the role of the different platforms and video buying models available. For example:

  • A 90-second emotive story bought on a skippable or completed view basis, where the user can choose to leave or stay, delivers very strong VTR’s even in longer content but is probably more effective served over wi-fi connections or in the evenings. Video KPI: Emotion and Experience
  • The 30-second and 15-second product and brand-heavy TVC is still hugely important in driving awareness and are proven to work brilliantly via TV or programmatic CPM video which employs a TV style interruptive delivery mechanic. Video KPI: Attention and Awareness
  • Social newsfeeds drive huge reach and scale in delivering 6-second reminder or response videos, which are more reliant on visual than audio for the ‘sound off’ mobile generation. Video KPI: Response and Reminder

The optimal mix of investment to drive maximum profitability and market-share gains is 60% long-term brand build and 40% short-term sales activation, according to an IPA / Binet and Field study.


The EEAARR model above simplistically captures the online video ecosystem and provides a framework for creative and media planning.

The danger is when we try and squeeze a 90-second creative into a 30, 15, or 6-second ad slot and wonder why it doesn’t work. It’s the metaphorical equivalent of trying to squeeze an elephant into a hatchback car and expecting the car to still hit top speed


Getting personal with mobile

Rather than focusing on repurposing ads into the mobile screen, we should be thinking about creating new engaging experiences that utilises native mobile functions.

It can be as simple as adapting creative design and messages to the device, language setting, time of day or understanding location and surroundings such as the weather or local events.

For example, Ikea has had success in Singapore by leveraging such an approach to increase footfall traffic to its stores with its The Pop By campaign, executed by Vizeum Singapore in November to December 2016.

The mobile campaign leveraged dynamic weather triggered mobile banners and geo-location targeting, and time targeting. Tapping into Singaporean’s love of food, users detected in the proximity of an Ikea outlet were sent relevant messages. The food-themed creative sent changed depending on the weather, inviting people to come to the store and eat.

The brands that will succeed in the mobile space are those who put individual users at the heart and forefront of their strategy with UX and storytelling methods that are sensitive to mobile trends. They will also be the ones that will fare best against the rising tide of ad blocking. 

The opportunity to tell a story through dynamic creative optimisation is real. Marketers can engage with consumers at significant identified moments of the consumer’s path to purchase. This can be achieved through sequential advertising that leverages device ID retargeting.

A detergent brand could deliver a longer form emotive video to parents in the evening and follow this up with a reminder message when the parent is later seen in the local supermarket.

When creating for digital we should not think that one size fits all. Desktop marketing has established its own consumer’s path to purchase over the last 20 years, but using the same strategy for mobile will not deliver the same results.

The objective and desired response from consumers needs to factor more heavily in plans, as all assets in varying lengths and formats have their roles to play.

Source: Unruly

Data from Unruly Pulse, shows that it takes over 60 seconds to create intense responses around some of the more complex emotions such as warmth, happiness, pride and inspiration – key triggers for mothers in Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, hilarity and amazement can be done in six seconds. So tell a joke, show a slapstick moment, maybe a man jumping out of a space balloon wearing only a jumpsuit?

Fit for platform, fit for purpose is especially important in an era where ‘in control, on demand’ consumers are becoming increasingly allergic to interruption.  

More engaging brand stories delivered politely, with consideration for usage context and device type, means better campaigns and less alienated consumers.

A win-win.

Phil Townend
Gavin Buxton

Phil Townend is an IAB Singapore Board Member and Chief Commercial Officer, APAC, Unruly. Gavin Buxton is an IAB Singapore Board Member and Managing Director, Asia, SpotX. This opinion article was originally published on Campaign Asia-Pacific.