Online Video Advertising May Be the New TV—How Does it Work?

monitor showing online video

If you have not yet heard of video-based advertising that uses the internet to show what are essentially TV commercials to automotive consumers, you may be missing out on one of the hottest new marketing strategies being used by many of the most competitive and successful dealers. However, like most emerging media segments, it is important to understand the tactics and tools that must be put into place in order to be successful with it.

I have found that there are two schools of practice when it comes to marketing and advertising suppliers providing video placements on the web for car dealers as an advertising campaign. Basically, the first type is the more widely established ad networks that provide marketing professionals, dealers, and their ad agencies with access to the tools and ordering systems to buy placements. An example of this, and a company, which I have used often over the past three years is TubeMogul. The second type of Online Video Advertising (OVA) provider are companies that specialize in serving the auto industry by providing a more turnkey bundle of services, including video production, while handling the placements using whatever tools they build or access from the first type. An example of this would be Car-Mercial.

So, how do these online video ads work? Using recently launched, web-based tools provided by multiple OVA networks (including consolidated campaign management consoles), car dealers and automotive marketing professionals now have the ability to create, manage, and “flight” dealership OVA campaigns using video placements in the following six types of advertising formats:

  1. Pre-roll

  2. In-display

  3. Social
  4. Mobile

  5. Editorial

  6. Connected TV

Before any ad agency or marketing services provider sells you any one of these six types, let’s make sure to understand how each of them works so you can make a knowledgeable decision and be able to ask the right questions. What I am seeing is that many suppliers seem to focus on one or two of these OVA types, while few are offering dealers all six. Let’s go through each of them…

Pre-roll OVA

The most widely used and popular OVA format, pre-roll video advertising places your dealership’s ad in front of the content that consumers are seeking on premium video sites. Most of us have seen these on YouTube as the 15-second clip you have to watch in order to get to the longer and typically non-commercial video content that you want to watch. Pre-roll is ideal for a dealership’s repurposed TV spots or any video that is 0:15 or 0:30 seconds long.

In-display OVA

When using in-display video ads, the dealership’s videos become the content. This provides automotive consumers with a more engaged, non-interruptive type of video based communication that they either choose by clicking to watch, or not. In-display OVA is ideal for videos that exceed 0:30 seconds, such as road tests, Features, Advantages and Benefits (FAB) clips, and new model introduction news-style videos. Dealers should add branded overlays, social sharing buttons and calls-to-action for this type of video advertising.

Social media OVA

Dealers can leverage paid placements of their video advertising within social networks such as Facebook and YouTube. This can be an effective way to reach automotive consumers who are increasingly spending time playing social games on Facebook and other platforms. TubeMogul’s research shows that social media OVA has longer viewing times, and targeting the right audience results in a greater likelihood that the viewer will share your video across their personal networks.

Mobile OVA

This is one of my favorite types of video advertising because of the growth trajectory of mobile smartphone-users visiting automotive websites on their hand held devices and tablets. While I was at Ken Grody Ford last week, they showed me data indicating that well over 20 percent of their dealership website traffic is now coming from mobile devices. Mobile OVA allows dealers to reach automotive consumers across the major mobile platforms, including iPhone, iPad, and Android. This type also supports delivering dealership videos within specific games (such as those featuring your vehicle models) and apps, as well as multiple mobile browsers.

Editorial OVA

This is the type of video advertising that I refer to as “stealth videos,” because it places dealership videos so they appear to be editorial content. When done using the right video content, this type of paid editorial placement on relevant web pages can engage automotive consumers without using more obvious or explicit forms of advertising.

Connected TV OVA

Ahhh…now I have your attention! This is exactly as it sounds, and places your dealership’s video ads in front of automotive consumers right when they are loading an application on their web connected TV, or a connected TV device such as Google TV.

Now that you have an overview of the six major types of online video advertising, the next time a service provider’s sales rep visits you and wants to pitch you on one of them, such as pre-roll, ask this person “What about the other five types of OVA? What can you do for me there?” You will be in a better position to evaluate available buys and inventory, and make better decisions around whether the type of OVA being offered is right for your campaign objectives.

Ralph Paglia is vice president of digital for Tier 10 Marketing and editor-in-chief of the Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community (

Cody Larson


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