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Why 2015 is video advertising’s breakout year

When it comes to video advertising, a lot can happen in a year. In 2014, digital video advertising experienced huge gains in spend and viewership, took a giant leap into automated programmatic buying, and saw a continuing wave of consolidation with Facebook buying LiveRail and Yahoo announcing the acquisition of my company, BrightRoll. After such an eventful year, 2015 will be the year that digital video advertising fully ‘grows up’. We’ll continue to see IPOs and industry consolidation in 2015, and as a result the video ad market will settle into a more mature phase.

Here are my predictions for the year ahead…

1) Programmatic goes mainstream for digital video.

In 2014, advertisers and publishers laid the groundwork for a fully automated video ad future, with $700 million worth of video inventory transacted on programmatic platforms in the US, according to eMarketer. By the end of 2015, buyers and sellers will transact more than $2 billion worth of video ads on programmatic platforms, more than tripling 2014 spending.

Advertisers and agencies are already sold on programmatic, and in 2015, publishers, will finally fully embrace programmatic technology, realizing it represents a huge opportunity to improve efficiencies and boost profits. Top-tier publishers will begin to shift to automated processes, adopting private marketplaces and programmatic direct platforms to gain operational efficiencies while maintaining control over how and to whom their premium inventory is sold. Gains will also be made in open, RTB-based video ad exchanges, as advertisers seek to consolidate their video ad buys across publishers via single programmatic platforms.

2) Mobile video spending skyrockets.

Consumers around the world are moving their media attention to smartphones and tablets, so it makes sense that advertisers will look to put their messages in front of these mobile eyeballs. However, despite the rapid consumer move toward mobile, in 2014, supply outstripped demand in mobile video, with many advertisers unsure of the format’s measurable impact. A lack of standard practices about how to effectively target, measure, and frequency cap mobile video ads across devices has also held back mobile until now. Thus, mobile video CPMs generally remained lower than desktop video in 2014, but that’s set to change in 2015.

Sophisticated mobile targeting and measurement has finally arrived, allowing advertisers to target and measure in the same ways they have on desktop devices. Publishers will offer mobile video inventory that more closely mirrors (and integrates with) desktop video. Significant progress on device ID mapping will enable cross-screen targeting and measurement, while more precise geo-targeting capabilities will also emerge. These advances will generate more premium inventory, causing average mobile video CPMs to rise. In fact, research by Business Insider predicts that over the course of the next few years, mobile video ads will grow almost five-times faster than desktop. That said, by the end of 2015, there’s a real possibility that advertisers will spend more on mobile video ads than desktop.

3) Programmatic performance guarantees will become the norm.

In 2015, advertisers will expect publishers and ad tech platforms to guarantee some performance metrics such as completion and clickthrough rates, as well as targeting metrics such as audience, inventory quality, and viewability. With 2014’s rise in awareness around fraudulent ad activity, advertisers will also demand metrics identifying non-human traffic. Providing such ‘guarantees’ will require many ad tech platforms and publishers to upgrade their data analytics and measurement capabilities, helping the video ad industry tie ad investment to concrete returns. When advertisers trust their investments are going to high-performing, viewable, and non-fraudulent inventory, they will spend more so we can expect to see advertisers focusing more on performance, rather than price.

4) Ad tech will come back in favor in capital markets.

2014 was a challenging year for ad tech in the capital markets, as newly public companies saw their share prices decline. 2014 was also a year of big exits via acquisition for video platforms, as larger technology companies began to understand the value in video. With such a tumultuous year behind us, 2015 will be the year top ad tech companies rise back to favor in the capital markets. Video platforms that provide a full-service ad buying and management solution — including programmatic trading, metrics and measurement, cross-channel targeting, and partnerships with anti-fraud providers — will emerge as leaders, attracting more of advertisers’ video budgets. Investment banks, like Woodside Capital Partners, are bullish on the space and “foresee continuing disruption of the traditional media advertising landscape, with video and mobile Ad Tech driving the change.” On the other hand, video platforms that offer point solutions will be acquired by larger players or fail to gain critical mass.

When we look at how ad tech companies have performed in the market lately, it’s easy to forget ad tech is still a young category, especially programmatic video. The future potential for automated, targeted, and measurable video advertising is tremendous. As we move into 2015, ad tech will continue to grow in step with its potential, bringing investors back to the strongest players.

Vehicle Graphics: Think Before You Wrap

Thinking about installing vehicle graphics or refreshing an old design? Here’s some advice from the pros: Keep it simple, work with marketing, and plan ahead.

March 2012, Work Truck – Feature

by Lauren Fletcher – Also by this author

Also considered “driving billboards,” vehicle graphics help identify a fleet’s vehicles, build on a company’s brand, and can even increase the resale value of a company’s fleet.

However, there are several factors to consider before determining whether vehicle graphics are right for a fleet. Once the decision is made, the process has only just begun.

Branding the Fleet

Before graphics are installed, a fleet must first determine if it wants them in the first place. Reviewing the value of potential graphics and fleet vehicle types can  help identify the best options for the fleet before proceeding.

“Fleet managers considering vehicles must see a value in what those graphics will do as a benefit to the company that they represent,” said Trace George, CEO and president of VSP Graphics.

Also, remember one key to vehicle graphics is that the vehicles become “moving” billboards.

“Keep it simple,” recommended Jim Soppelsa, president of Sun Art Decals, Inc. “When a vehicle is on the move, your message needs to be understood quickly. Also, keep in mind how long you plan to keep the vehicle in a fleet. You may need a removable material versus a five- or a 12-year material. There are many adhesives for different applications.”
Be sure to maintain the company’s brand and use wording that management and/or marketing approves of, to ensure a standard within the whole fleet.

“Many fleet managers responsible for the graphic layout hire a sign person to design and install them. Some mindsets are to just put logos and copy wherever there may be space available on the vehicle surface,” George noted. “Fleet managers should only be responsible for making sure whatever is installed on a vehicle benefits their fleet in surface protection and that proper steps are taken to ensure warranties of installation and eventual removals.”

Fleet branding can be very beneficial for many reasons to the company that values it; however, before a plan is begun to implement fleet graphics, a fleet manager should contact a material manufacturer to specify the materials that would best fit his or her project plan.

“3M, MACtac, Arlon, Avery, and Oracal are the best-known fleet graphic manufacturers available to contact through their websites,” George noted. “A local sign shop may not be the right direction for information, as many sign shops only carry one or two types of material to keep inventory costs down. Many sign shops are not gauged to offer proper fleet graphics because they may only use short-term materials or may not follow proper printing/overlaminating standards for specified fleet needs.”

Fleet vehicles are never one size, one shape, or one brand.

“Keep in mind the variety of vehicle types and body styles. While it may seem like you’ll only be in one or two types of vehicles right now, who is to say what you’ll be in five years from now?” asked Jamie Knakmuhs, senior graphics designer for National Fleet Graphics, LLC. “Try not to cater your graphics too specifically to the details of the vehicle body, but rather let them work across a wider variety.”

When considering full or partial wraps, Knakmuhs also recommended keeping in mind such items as door handles, that will weather faster, or bumpers, which will increase the cost.

“Full vehicle wraps will help increase the resale value of your fleet vehicles,” according to Knakmuhs. “By being covered in a quality vinyl, the paint will be protected and you can avoid any paint fading, minor scratches, or ghosting that may occur with contour cut spot graphics.”

Vehicle Graphics Do’s, Don’ts, and Advice

Vehicle graphics are a way to advertise a business or create an identity for fleet vehicles. To explore the “do’s and don’ts” of vehicle graphics, and gather advice for fleets, Work Truck spoke with Scott Morrison, director of operations/logistics of SkinzWraps, Inc.; Steve Whitaker, vice president of sales of Signature Graphics, Inc.; and Trace George, president/CEO of VSP Marketing Graphics Group. Graphic examples are displayed throughout this article.

Vehicle Graphic Do’s

What steps should be taken in determining graphics to place on fleet vehicles and which vendors to select? Here are some helpful ideas.

  • Use an experienced vehicle graphics designer to create the original version of the image and text and have an experienced vehicle graphic professional measure the vehicle.
  • Consider and communicate durability requirements.
  • Review the graphics provider’s financial strength and developmental support tools.
  • Request references and/or the design company’s portfolio. Because a local sign company can make signs doesn’t necessarily mean it can produce vehicle wraps, lettering, etc., for fleets.
  • Understand the value-added resources available from a supplier.
  • Use a certified graphic company to design and install fleet graphics.
  • Prepare an image that works appropriately with the vehicle.

According to George of VSP, many companies invest in products and services for their fleet display needs and often find they are left “holding the bag” when a problem exists.

Certified material companies follow industry standards. Every certified company must follow strict guidelines in material usage and proper installation methods, and are tested with stringent techniques.

“When a fleet desires graphic marketing, etc., it is a good idea to shop for certified graphic companies, as they have a strong backing from each product manufacturer. When a non-certified graphic company is used, it is likely a warranty issue would not be honored by the manufacturer, based on that company not using proper standard installation methods,” said George.

Vehicle Graphic Don’ts

Mistakes involving vehicle graphics can be costly. From the time and money it takes to fix a mistake to how a company is viewed, avoiding costly vehicle graphic mistakes should be a priority.

Mistakes that can and should be avoided include:

Vendor Selection

  • Do not base a decision exclusively on price. Numerous variables influence durability and may or may not influence the ultimate price.
  • Do not work with a company that doesn’t understand your fleet specifications. “It’s critical that your supplier understands your actual vehicles and how the design executes on your fleet,” said Whitaker of Signature Graphics.
  • Don’t choose a company that doesn’t understand your business requirements or doesn’t invest the time and energy to know exactly what is expected from your brand campaign over the life of the program.


5 rules for effective vehicle wraps

These guidelines will help you deliver high impact vehicle wraps
By Dan Antonelli, President and Creative Director, Graphic D-Signs, Inc. and 

Last month Bob Behounek had an excellent article on building more effective layouts for signs.  He had three examples of the same sign, but made simpler with each revision until it was reduced to a more basic, and pure, layout. His points about why sign painters from a generation ago understood how to make effective layouts were spot on. In those days, speed certainly was an issue and the more bells and whistles added to a sign resulted in increased production times. Budget often dictated that they make the most effective use of their time to deliver the most impactful message. They couldn’t simply click a button to make a drop shadow, outline a letter or add a bevel. If they wanted one, it could mean a few hours of labor, which they likely didn’t have in the budget. Layouts for signs present many of the same challenges as vehicle wraps. Distance legibility is, of course, a primary concern. You have very limited time to capture the viewer’s attention, then have that brand and message be understood and remembered.If you examined most wraps on the road today, you’d think this concept was really hard to pull off, and that it must be really hard to design an effective wrap. It’s really not, once you understand the fundamentals of what it takes to build a good wrap.

Rule #1: Start with a great brand

One reason why so many wraps fail from a marketing perspective is due to the fact that the business has a poor brand identity and logo. The brand should always be the primary message for a vehicle wrap, unless you have national brand recognition. But for small businesses trying to make an impact in their community, the message is always about the brand. Starting with a poor brand means you’ve already failed before you’ve begun. The business owner has not only wasted their money on a wrap, but they’ve missed a huge marketing opportunity. We generally only do wrap design for clients whose brands we’ve first created, because the others who come to us with an existing brand often have a terrible one. And if they won’t change it, we won’t design it. And what’s surprising is that we’re usually the first ones to tell them that. I guess the other sign companies never mention that, because they don’t want to lose the job. I guess I can understand that, but a surprising number of clients really appreciate the candor. They appreciate the fact that we only have their best interest in mind. It’s too much money to play with, and I’m certainly not going to be responsible for wasting it by trying to work with a brand that has no business being implemented on a wrap. The brand is the message, period.

Rule #2: Don’t use photos

I’ve had the discussion often with other sign makers, and some may not agree on this point, but you won’t find many effective wraps that use a photo of any type. And I’d argue that any wrap that uses a photo could have been more effectively done without one. Photos are usually a crutch for  a poor brand. The photo is not a brand identity: it doesn’t connect me with the business name. Maybe it connects me with what they do, but that’s really the point of a good brand.Take the example of the HVAC company with a big picture of an air conditioner. Great, now I know you do air conditioning. But who are you? I don’t know, because I only had 2.5 seconds to view the message. Or the contractor and the picture of a house. Great—a house. But are you a siding company, a roofing company, a window installer, power washer, a landscaper or an electrician? I have no idea because the photo is the dominant element. After my 2.5 seconds are up, your message is lost amidst all the other things trying to grab my attention. Perhaps on box trucks or trailers, you can use a photo, but I’d still argue a more powerful brand integration would be more effective. National chains have an easier time using photography, because, once again, their brand is already known, and the message need not be 100% focused on who or what the brand is.

Rule #3: Limit your copy

There are only three or four things a good wrap needs: a strong brand implementation and perhaps tagline messaging, a web address and maybe a phone number. Bullet lists that are more like shopping lists have no place ona vehicle. This isn’t the Yellow Pages. Would you rather list 10 things and have none remembered or even be able to be read, or maybe one or two that might be remembered?If this truck were a billboard, how much copy do you think would be on it? Billboards have the exact same challenges as vehicle advertising. If you prioritize your copy, it will be more effective. In general, the hierarchy should always be: Brand, Tagline, Web and/or Phone.

Rule #4: Design to stand out, not fit in

This isn’t the part where many might say diamond plate, carbon fiber, tribal flames will make that truck wrap stand out. Quite the contrary. By eliminating all those frills, noisy backgrounds, photos, bevels and glows, you’ll be on your way to designing a wrap that eally stands out. The wrap market is so littered with visual noise, that when you see something that’s impactful, which you can read and is actually memorable, it can’t help but stand out among the visual clutter that viewers are now so accustomed to seeing. That’s what’s so ironic to me. People think our designs are so innovative, simply because they’re unlike what everyone else seems to be doing—therefore, they can’t help but stand out.

Rule #5: Simple and obvious is good

If the viewer needs to work too hard to figure out the primary brand messaging, it’s an opportunity lost. The medium isn’t the same as print design, where the viewer can stop, absorb the advertising and try to understand the message. Consider that one primary take-away you’re hoping to leave with the viewer. What is it? Does the wrap effectively communicate it?  Is it lost in the imagery? Here’s an example of why simple is good. A local butcher shop recently had their brand new truck wrapped, and proudly parked the truck in front of the store. I drove by the truck every day for a week before I could actually discern what the large photo on the side of the truck was. It was a piece of rare steak sliced open with some lettuce next to it. It literally took me five days to get that part. Then I spent the next week of commuting, trying to find out what the actual message was. So after about two weeks, I got  the message. Do you think the average person is as obsessed with studying wraps as I am? Buried in the photo amidst a Photoshop glow was Free Delivery.  Great! I can get steak delivered. Oh, unfortunately I don’t know the name of the butcher shop, for that also is buried on top of the photo with yet another Photoshop glow, which was apparently supposed to make this legible.  And the company logo? That apparently was reserved for the rear of the truck, which I never see because the truck is always parked in same direction, and I don’t pass by the same way on the way home. Sadly, when I did finally see the logo, it was poor, and I couldn’t read that, either. Failure? Wasted opportunity? You bet. Tragically, the owner doesn’t know, and seemingly, neither did the wrap company. It’s yet another wrap design that simply blends in and is ignored by the viewer.