Tuesday’s final Lightning Talk saw Marco Rimini, CEO of Mindshare, chairing a discussion between Paul Dyson, Founder of Data2Decisions, and Nick Manning, Chief Strategy Officer of Ebiquity, about the implications of recent research into the ROI value of online video.

At the beginning of Tuesday’s panel discussion on the ROI of online video, Nick Manning, Chief Strategy Officer of Ebiquity, neatly summarised the issues at the heart of the debate: “Online video is a medium that can work extremely well, but the level of success is proportionate to the effort that goes in, the clarity of objectives, targeting, and the right measurement criteria.” With TV still dominating video spend, the question of how these objectives are defined and measured is crucial, with valid results necessary to support the decision to move budgets online.

Paul Dyson, Founder of Data2Decisions expanded on this idea, explaining how different combinations of brand, category and audience profile require different targeting, different budgets, and indeed, different measurement frameworks. Depending on their category, some brands have a natural online presence, while some audiences - particularly younger age groups - watch very little broadcast media, necessitating approach through a channel other than TV.

TV still returns good ROI, but we’re seeing in about 70% of cases that online video is giving a higher ROI, which suggests that some money should move towards online video.

Paul Dyson, Data2Decisions

Over the last four years, Paul said that his team have measured the ROI of more than a hundred online video campaigns, and that in that time their data has shown the channel consistently delivering strong returns. For both panelists this demonstrates that ROI needs to be higher on the agenda for advertisers. With new media and new opportunities arising every year, the notion of single online channel is dated, and the only way to operate in this new world is to get to grips with ROI.

Nick and Paul repeatedly stressed the importance of a data-driven strategy, and resisted the easy option of rules of thumb about budget percentages and media mixes. Having seen ROI from online video outperform TV in about 70% of the cases his company has analysed, Paul is certain of online video’s ROI potential, and frequently advises committing anywhere between 5-25% of client budgets to the medium. Both panelists stressed the continued relevance of TV, with year-on-year data showing no decline in its ROI. In keeping with the discussion’s avoidance of generalities, both Nick and Paul agreed that the right way to proceed with any campaign was to begin with the audience and objectives and proceed from there, meaning that, in certain instances, if the audience dicated it, online video could constitute 0% or 100% of a brand’s budget.

Measuring the ROI of online video

Finally, discussion turned to the question of creative, with both panelists agreeing that while repurposed TV creative has returned good ROI, there is an opportunity to boost performance further with creative customised for online video. In Paul Dyson’s experience, creative has been the second biggest driver of campaign performance after brand size, though Nick Manning stressed that the extra expense incurred by creating new content makes robust measurement even more important.

At the end of the session, both panelists ultimately agreed that with the right targeting, right objectives, and the right measurement in place, online video can deliver outstanding ROI, and can enhance the reach and effectiveness of TV campaigns if the audience understanding is sound. In summing up his rigorous approach, Paul Dyson reminded everyone that in the final reckoning, marketing effectiveness always boils down to sales, making accurate ROI measurement a vital skill for both brands and agencies.