Understanding the Evolution of Video Marketing

There’s plenty of talk about what marketing means today, but where will it be tomorrow?

What’s the future of marketing? Is it stories? Analytics? Graffiti in public bathroom stalls?

The answer is probably all of them (except the graffiti—come on, don’t be a vandal). Yet there’s one medium that will almost certainly end up king of the heap: video marketing.

An IAB statistic claims that long-form video advertising has risen by 114% in the last two years. The digital advertising marketplace grew substantially in 2015, and video and mobile were the two forms of media that really drove that growth.

More and more consumers are using their handheld screens to watch video of all kinds, treating their TV and their iPads interchangeably. Advertisers now have a massive sea of mediums  to go after. And there are new forms of video emerging all the time, such as outstream video, which plays automatically.

I recently interviewed Sarah Fay about this evolution of video. Sarah is an angel investor and advisor, former CEO of Aegis Media, President of Carat Interactive, and about 50 other really impressive things. She shared a wealth of information about the ever-evolving direction of video and cross-screen.

Here are some of the key takeaways from that interview.


There are constant innovations in the world of video, making it much more attainable for advertisers to make their mark. For instance, Sarah works with a company called Celtra, which has an app-creation platform and distribution mechanism for video. One of the things they’ve done is change the delivery of video on a smart screen to be vertical instead of horizontal.


Snapchat does this too, but that’s one of a very few places that you can go for vertical video. Celtra is helping advertisers get vertical video everywhere else.

This is enormously innovative, and here’s why.

If you think of the normal way you receive video, it’s just a little square in the middle of your screen. You have to turn the phone sideways to watch the video fully, and very few people actually bother to do that. So to have the video delivered in a vertical format that’s meant to be seen that way changes the viewership and response rates dramatically.

Such a simple idea, but it’s an innovation. And because video is still emerging, these are the types of things companies can trailblaze on.


You’ve probably seen a video piece that Unilabor created called “Real Beauty Sketches,” where women describe themselves to a sketching artist, and the self-described drawings came back ugly while those conveyed by others were beautiful. That’s not an advertisement; that’s a captivating video that a brand got behind.


This is the new form of content creation that’s taking on steam. It’s more interesting to consumers, they’re more likely to share it, and the brand captures the halo effect of all of the sharing. It isn’t self-promotional, but if the content is great, it has undeniable promotional benefits.

Measuring the Impact

Every company takes a different tack in terms of what’s important to them, so there’s no one way to measure the impact of video. Some people use video effectively all the way through to ROI in a sale. But a lot of performance marketers use it as a top-of-funnel part of the mix that makes everything else more effective.

The point is, it doesn’t stand on its own as a performance driver. Yet, any amount of research will show you that video is highly effective, and that it’s not necessarily the last click. There are simply a lot of lenses to look through to see what is or isn’t effective.


We’ve been talking mostly about digital, but what about TV, digital distribution, and automation in the next few years?

Sarah says that “nirvana is achieving cross-screen in the single view of the viewer or the consumer.” Everybody’s trying to get to this; it’s not easy to get to.

Marketers are now in a much better place to be able to append data to inventory and really understand the value of the audiences that are being reached in the TV medium. This is so different: traditionally, it’s been an insights-based medium where you make your best guess and accept that though there will be a lot of waste, you know TV is effective. Little by little, we’re starting to apply the same buying techniques that we use online to TV, eliminating that waste as we go.


There’s a misconception about TV being unapproachably expensive. The truth is not so daunting. For larger companies, it may be the most efficient medium. For smaller companies, who may not know what they’re getting for their dollars, it may be harder to pursue. But Sarah has talked to B2B media buyers who say that programmatic TV makes TV more affordable, because  they can buy in smaller increments and know that they’re reaching the audiences that matter to them in efficient and addressable ways.

The TV platform can work for everyone. Big advertisers may want to use it to extend their reach and bring their frequency down a bit. They can mesh programmatic with traditional buys to just make it more efficient. But for advertisers who have felt on the outside of TV looking in, it’s now more accessible.


Last year was the first year that the banner ad took a major dip. That should tell you how important video is.

We all need to take video seriously. Not just that: we really need a creative content strategy that will make it sing.

How’s yours?

This episode is based on an interview with Sarah Fay, angel investor and advisor. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the Hawke Media Podcast.

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