A Brighter Future for Video Advertising Vs. Search

By Cory Treffiletti, Chief Marketing Officer of Rembrand

“The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades”.

These infamous lyrics were originally uttered by a not-so-famous musical group who proclaimed them in 1986 (Timbuk3 to be specific).  They foretold a bright future ironically stated by the writer’s wife.  Those lyrics could be taken alongside the prescient “Video killed the radio star”, by Buggles which was the first video played on the nascent MTV back in 1981, when MTV played music videos.  These two one-hit wonders can be taken out of context and viewed as eerily accurate when considered alongside one another and applied to the video advertising industry.

One could argue that in 2024, video advertising is the single most important form of digital advertising, overtaking paid search in terms of applicability and impact if not revenue.  I realize paid search is still approximately double the total spend that video saw in 2023, but search is mature, and while it is growing, it is not growing at the same pace as video advertising.  What’s more, video advertising is rising because it is starting to weave its way into other channels for video, not being focused solely on YouTube and online video channels.  The opportunity for video is wider and stronger, especially when you consider that search is going to suffer disruption at the hands of generative AI over the coming years (more on that another time).  Streaming is on the rise, and more people are looking to ad-supported streaming.  I would also argue video is far better for building a brand and driving engagement with new customers outside of the primary way search is utilized with people in the consideration set, looking to build their options.  Video is more top of funnel, and therefore more important at driving growth.

Unfortunately, we operate in a world where the industry tried to adopt the old format of commercial interruption and apply it to digital video.  That model is not sustainable for the future because too many people ignore the format or skip it altogether.  Advertisers like to build brand, but they like the engagement metrics even more, and you can’t deliver engagement if you weren’t seen.  The Opportunity to See, or OTS, is a great metric for understanding the way video can be evaluated, and engagement metrics determine its performance.

That leads me to state the future of digital video advertising is about OTS and engagement that can be delivered in a non-interruptive, highly engaged format.  Commercial interruption will not go away, but it is going to become less interesting as new models arise.  In an effort to be open and honest, I work for a company called Rembrand and we focus on Enhanced In-Scene Advertising.  This format represents the natural evolution of virtual product placement meshed with rich media, where brands are inserted into the content people love, delivering the engagement of a sponsored post with the ease and scale of a media buy.  This is but one form of video advertising that will be useful in 2024 and into 2025 because it is not skippable and is always noticed.  The other is shoppable links, or clickable video.  This is something the industry has been asking about for years, and now seems on the precipice of being scalable.  These are links in video that can be clicked to open a window for more opportunities, like tapping into buying behaviors.  There are companies in the space working with the larger platforms to create the meta data essential for the shoppable and clickable links to work, and these are starting to grow.  Retailers want these.  CPG wants these.  Even B2B advertisers want these because they make all video actionable in a way they have not been in the past, and this changes the game.  With non-interruptive, clickable links in video, you can use video for both brand and demand, and at scale.

Video advertising as a category will grow double digits even without these innovations, but these innovations tap directly into the needs and wants of the advertising agencies and brand advertisers who work with them.  When I speak to brands, they universally want to reach an audience, know they were seen, and enable an action to be taken.  The combination of clickability with OTS delivers.

As for search, search advertising stands to be disrupted because generative AI and generative search results deliver what you need without you being tasked to click through and visit a site with the relevant information.  As generative search negates the need to click out, so goes paid search.  This opens the door for video advertising to grow even more rapidly because younger audiences are spending far more time with video than they are with search.  Search is functional whereas video is fun AND functional.

2024 is a year where these innovations in video will deliver the initial seed of growth that could overtake search in the next 5 years.  If your brand is looking to prepare for the future, you should be gathering insights and testing these new formats now.

About the Author:

Cory Treffiletti is Chief Marketing Officer of Rembrand, the product placement platform powered by generative AI.