Five ways programmatic video can help SMBs reach the right audience

Five ways programmatic video can help SMBs reach the right audience

By Norman Birnbach

Instead of watching TV shows on an actual television set, millennials are busy consuming video content on their mobile devices. While that’s bad news for traditional broadcast networks, cord-cutting can be good news for marketers. These days, reaching a mass viewership isn’t as important as reaching the right audience.

According to AJ Jordan, vice president of digital media at Sound Communications, a full-service advertising and marketing agency in New York, the secret of reaching the right audience is YouTube, the longtime No. 2 search engine (behind parent Google).

“YouTube is the how-to guide to live your life,” Jordan says, noting that people are increasingly watching YouTube on their mobile devices. Statistics from YouTube back that up: “The number of hours people are watching on YouTube each month is up 50 percent year over year … (while) half of YouTube views are on mobile devices.”

Jordan is a big believer in programmatic advertising. “For millennials and digital natives, a major benefit of programmatic digital media is that it offers web visitors the experience of having an “online concierge” or personal shopper, delivering the kind of content they want,” Jordan says. “Ads are only annoying when they have nothing to do with your true interests. Programmatic ads serve up tailored messages that are in tune with the web visitors’ lives – custom messages for a custom customer.”

Jordan believes small- to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) should consider YouTube for at least three reasons.

Reach actual customers. Advertising rates for traditional broadcast can be too expensive for SMBs, especially when you factor in that they’re paying to reach people who are not their target customers. For example, teenage boys who watch sports on TV are years away from being able to buy the beer, trucks and insurance advertised during games. Instead, with programmatic ad buys on YouTube, SMBs can identify and reach viewers with the attributes most important to them. “Instead of shouting to reach millions of non-customers, you can whisper and reach thousands of people (who are) actually likely to buy,” Jordan says, and do so more cost-effectively.”

Generate brand awareness for less. YouTube TrueView ads are skippable, and if people skip an ad in less than 30 seconds, YouTube doesn’t charge for the ad. The five seconds before the viewer decides to skip is the equivalent of free brand awareness (as long as your ad leads off with your company logo and/or brand). And if they watch more than 30 seconds, you know they’re captivated. 

Search plus video is effective. Because your ad is served up according to the user’s specific queries on YouTube for content, you are more likely to reach motivated customers than with traditional TV advertising. As a result, your ads are more likely to be seen as relevant and less intrusive than banner or pop-up ads.

Outmaneuver larger competitors. It’s hard for SMBs to compete against larger companies whose deep advertising budgets give them a significant advantage on TV buys, but YouTube can level the playing field. Jordan cites an example of a regional bank in Queens, New York, that generated views among tens of thousands of profiled individuals within a specified geography; it generated more views on YouTube than TD Bank, despite the latter bank’s deeper pockets. Jordan says that the viewers who “chose to watch 100 percent of the video rather than skipping was proof in the pudding that we reached and educated the ‘right audience.’”

Make real-time adjustments. With programmatic advertising on YouTube, you can make real-time adjustments based on a range of factors, changing the video ad that visitors are shown based on whether they have seen any of your YouTube videos prior, or if they had engaged with your YouTube channel by sharing, liking or subscribing to it.

Using YouTube, you can also select banner display ads based on which pages on your website the users previously visited. If they went only to your landing page, they can get served with a general ad about your company. But if they visit a product or services page, they can get an ad specific to that offering. The ability to do real-time adjustments also enables companies to do A/B testing to determine which ad is more effective.

“We find that YouTube can be a really effective option for SMBs” Jordan says, “because it targets millennials by the way they watch video content on their devices, not on traditional TV sets.”  YouTube’s effectiveness will continue to grow when more carriers offer cost-effective unlimited data plans, he notes, which is already the case in Europe.

Norman BirnbachNorman Birnbach is the president of Birnbach Communications, an award-winning Boston-based PR and social media agency. He writes on a broad range of topics and tweets at @NormanBirnbach. He can be reached at   


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