This guest blog is written by Chris Le May, DataXu SVP and Managing Director Europe & Emerging Markets

Recent years have seen a stampede towards video advertising. 50% of marketers are planning to increase their video budget in the next 12 months, says the Content Marketing Association. News and media organisations everywhere are investing in video; BuzzFeed, the online news feed, has an entire content arm called BuzzFeed Motion Pictures.

Instagram recently extended its video length limit to 60 seconds, while Snapchat reached 8 billion daily video views. There are several factors driving this: we have fallen out of love with traditional online display ads; the quality of online and mobile video has increased, high speed broadband and 4G are widely available and video just tends to be stronger for connecting with audiences and delivering the brand message.

Google went one step further and claimed (quoting their own research), that advertisers should be allocating up to six times more of their budget to YouTube than they currently do, because 80% of ads on the platform are more effective than TV ads in driving sales. But it was also right for TV marketing body Thinkbox to point out: "Online video should increase but this should be funded by using money from less effective ad budgets, such as online display, or finding new money."

And while I wholly agree that video and especially programmatic video is often under-represented on media plans, it might be wise not to shift all investment to one player aka YouTube but to consider buying inventory on open and private exchanges that will reach your target audience at the right time and on the right device.

Mix it up and be seen

Crucially, one of the most important elements of marketing is not just considering the effectiveness of one channel but the effect of the overall media mix. The same applies to online video.

Brands and agencies need to understand how audiences are consuming content, including video content and shape their strategies accordingly. It's about marketing to people and therefore less about channels or devices. The consumer today is expecting a seamless experience, and unfortunately an increasing number will revert to ad blockers if the content is not relevant or is too intrusive.  

As consumers spend more time on multiple devices – from phones, tablets and desktop, programmatic video has to keep up and campaigns must be optimised for an omni-channel experience. Marketers need to have a device and channel agnostic approach, while using algorithmic optimisation to tailor marketing and make it relevant to their customers.

This also means not just adding different channels, as they become the next shiny new thing, like mobile video or programmatic TV or even YouTube 360 live streaming, but demonstrating a consistent story across their entire marketing activities, delivered through a thorough understanding of how to utilise available data points and insights. Not forgetting measuring the impact of all channels on the path to purchase — no one channel on its own can ever ‘win'.

Fronting up to the issues

Google's rosy picture of the video world also shies away from issues marketers and the industry need to confront. Such as, one of the biggest challenges with video at this point is the quality of inventory due to increased demand for video advertising placements.

Access to siloed inventory is also an issue, as YouTube for example is only available via Google directly. Facebook is also following the same path and isolating its data, inventory and media buying tech, further building its walled garden. While inventory is still available via APIs, these players are certainly creating their own private ecosystem, where marketers often don't get any data back in return for considerable investments.

Unfortunately, with more money moving to video advertising it is also becoming a sweet spot for fraudsters to target. Google claimed late last year "the vast majority of invalid traffic is filtered from our systems before advertisers are ever charged" following a study that suggested it was charging advertisers for fraudulent views. While a pre-bid system is standard practice for most companies it's not the same as really stepping up to help stamp out fraud, namely offering fraud-free guarantees.

Marketers need to assess the potential of video as part of an omni-channel approach for themselves – the good and the bad - and not just take Google's word for it before they open their wallets further.