Advertisers like what they see in video opportunities on digital platforms says Alistair Burton, digital media director at Initiative  in an interview with Gulf News.

Here are Alistair’s thoughts on the topic – some of which were featured in the Gulf News article…

Q: The likes of Facebook and Twitter have introduced video ad possibilities – have these found a take-up among local/regional advertisers? The consumption of video on digital platforms is a phenomenon that is growing at an ever-increasing rate in the MENA region as well as across the globe. This is something that can be attributed to the engaging nature of the video content, which has given the platforms hosting these videos a fantastic opportunity to sell advertising to a known audience before, during or after the video content. Advertising can also be integrated into the programme itself to target specific users. YouTube is by far the biggest such platform, although many global channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, and regional digital media channels, such as MBC and DMI, also offer their own video advertising opportunities. The phenomenal growth in watching videos online has resulted in all of these platforms growing, with advertisers taking advantage of this trend to communicate to their audiences. The most successful digital video advertising goes beyond the traditional format of a 30-second TV commercial. It uses engaging stories, celebrity endorsement and interactive aspects to make the experience a bespoke and absorbing one for the individual user.

Q: Would you agree that display ads on digital platforms are maturing and that future growth will be limited? In these markets, which are the growth platforms within digital?

Yes, I would agree that the display ad platform is maturing and that future growth will be limited. In fact, I believe that we will start to see fewer display adverts that cause annoyance to the user, such as overlays, which appear as semi-transparent banners typically across the bottom of the screen during the course of a video broadcast. Digital platforms need to prioritise the user’s experience, not their short-term advertising revenue. If they don’t react to demand in this respect, they will face a shrinking and less engaged audience. Traditional display advertising won’t necessarily suffer, as this format will always have a place in the market for general awareness to a relevant audience. Real-time bidding (RTB) is an area of marketing that is showing significant growth.

This is a method of buying display advertising by targeting a specific audience at a tiny percentage of the traditional display advertising cost. Going beyond standard display advertising also offers opportunities and forms part of a wider story-telling communication strategy that can involve multiple aspects. There are a number of digital platforms that will continue to grow in the market. Overall, the more beneficial the platform to the user, the better opportunity for growth – either with the platform itself or the advertising around it. Developing truly engaging content is essential for brands to tell their story to a receptive audience. This will have better results than the pushing of a ‘Buy Now’ message. With regards to specific platforms:

  • Mobile has the largest opportunity for growth due to the increasing proliferation of smartphones in the region, with ownership rates here among the highest in the world. Additional technology within these devices, such as GPS, gyro and swipe technology can facilitate a more bespoke and interactive experience for the customer.
  • Search engine access will continue to grow, as Internet users seek out more complicated products, services and information.
  • Video and visual social experience. The rise of the visual web, from image-based platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat (and to some extend What’s App), to video platforms such as Keek and Vine, all show the growing trend of users engaging with image and video content in a social environment. The most interesting content is naturally self-selected and will always rise to the surface in the democracy of the Internet.

Ultimately, how display advertising will change will depend on the individual advertiser and the digital platform.  The more thought input from the advertiser on providing an engaging story and their greater understanding of the audience, the more impactful their advertisement. These are the pointers that marketers need to understand if they are to most effectively use digital platforms in the future. In terms of the success of the media platforms, the ones who will reap the most benefits and will have the most success with their video advertising will be those who best adapt to users’ desires and meet their demand for future content channels.