John Wanamaker

Why Marketers Need AI to Scale the Effectiveness of Their Video Creative

Video in marketing is booming right now. Bolstered by a surge in mobile viewing and a host of innovative new digital media formats to choose from, video is firmly at the top of marketers’ wish lists, predicted to account for 80% of all online marketing content by the end of 2019.


And it’s showing no signs of slowing down. A study by Kantar indicated that 84% of marketers are planning to increase their investment in online video advertising over the next 12 months.


That’s a lot of video...a lot of video being pushed out by marketers who have little or no idea whether they’re any good or not. 

Why? Because the emphasis on metrics in the billions of ad dollars committed has been on media distribution and optimisation, not measurement of creative effectiveness of the digital ads themselves. 

Such a huge investment in video comes despite huge concerns from advertisers around measuring the success and impact of their online media campaigns According to Nielsen’s recent CMO Report only 26% of marketers are confident in their ability to measure ROI on digital


Meanwhile, because of the time, cost and drain on resources for already overstretched marketing teams, evaluating the effectiveness of their digital creative is left mainly to what the brand manager’s gut is telling them. A lot of money to put at risk based on a best guess. 

A recent Nielsen study found that good creative is the most important element of any successful ad campaign. More important than targeting, where the ad is shown and even the brand it is promoting, the research revealed. 

But while marketers struggle to measure the effectiveness of their media campaigns, decisions made around an ad creative’s ROI are still largely decided by agency hunches.

So, it’s no surprise that another recent study, this time by Havas, revealed a growing disconnect between brands and consumers. The research, released at the start of 2019, suggested that 77% of global brands could disappear and consumers wouldn’t care, with the quality of content being produced a key contributing factor.




It’s a telling statistic for an industry seemingly obsessed more with the quality of the plumbing than what’s flowing through the pipes.

But this isn’t new. A quote often attributed to the retailer John Wanamaker, over 100 years ago could easily be the lament of any CMO today:  "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."


Something has to change. As video is incorporated into more and more channels in the marketer’s toolkit, including product videos, social ads and digital OOT kiosks, the need for better and affordable creative effectiveness measurement has never been greater.  

Rather than relying on guesswork, brands need to know which of their creative executions will generate the most return on their considerable video and media placement investment.


With 72 hours of video footage uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds and a third of time online spent online watching video, it’s no surprise that brands want to capitalise on the internet population’s seemingly ravenous hunger for online video.

But faced by a number of online distractions every single day, getting consumers to sit up, engage and take notice has never been harder.

Brands need all the help they can get. Add into the mix an avalanche of untested content launched every day by attention-hungry brands and you can see where the already brittle fault lines are starting to open up. Before launching a campaign, advertisers need to know their content will engage consumers emotionally and maintain their attention. 

The problem is traditional market research companies’ methods struggle to deliver the scale required by brands to keep up with the sheer volume of video content being created. 

While self-reported surveys can reveal how respondents think they feel, the responses can only be filtered through rational, conscious mechanisms. The data collected can also be vague, inconsistent and unhelpful.  Worse it is not even actionable at the speed of production required to satisfy the need for rapid content creation.

Artificial intelligence can help. Called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, AI is driving incredible benefits across many different sectors thanks to the proliferation of connected devices all around the world and huge technological strides in computing power and machine learning.

AI is already being used across the ad industry to power the buying and selling of ads and inventory at machine speed. So why shouldn’t marketers turn to AI to help ensure their digital video assets will engage their audiences at scale and at a low cost across a wide range of formats and platforms? 

One particular strand of AI, Emotion AI, which teaches computers emotional intelligence, can measure the likely impact of a creative asset at the rate brands are churning out new videos.

Using opted-in webcams to record and analyse viewers’ facial expressions, head movements and body language in real time while watching a piece of content, an advertiser will know every smile, gasp, yawn and eye-roll their creative generated. 

With a large enough database of tested video evaluated using this technology, norms can be established for measuring potential effectiveness, and machines learning can be applied to parse the data at lightning speed. 

It means before committing a single penny of budget, marketers can not only know exactly how people will react to the content, but also how it compares overall with other ads in the sector. No more risk. No more guesswork. No more relying on gut.  Just a lot of videos optimised for viewer engagement.