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Identify ‘Micro Moments’ That Will Make Or Break Your Pre-Roll Video

Pre-Roll Ad settings to which car consumers can really relate decide whether prospects will keep watching or opt out. BY PHIL SURA

Dealers and their marketing directors need to get familiar with the concept of “micro moments,” as they are becoming a core focus of all types of retailers and their ad agencies. Micro moments have the potential to make pre-roll video an even more powerful marketing tool, but dealers could miss that opportunity by relying on traditional messaging with roots in the 1950s.

What exactly is a “micro moment”? The practitioner’s definition is for “a mobile moment that requires only a glance to identify and delivers quick information that you can either consume, or act on immediately.” In layman’s terms, examples of an advertising micro moment could include a driver who has suffered a flat tire on a busy highway and is searching for a repair shop. The subject’s need is immediate, and he or she will decide to act within a moment while using a mobile device.

People have such micro moments every day, addressing issues with vehicles (“What is the towing capacity of a new Jeep?” “How can I help my daughter who is having car problems in a different town?”) and with other aspects of their lives (“Where is the closest Starbucks? What are the best books to buy for my 7-year-old?”). Many of us turn to our smart phones for help in answering these questions, and Google suggests identifying such moments and settings to create an effective marketing message.

Dealers need to remember that a micro moment’s impact goes beyond immediate needs for minor purchases. At their core, Google VP of Marketing Lisa Gevelber wrote in an article, micro moments focus on these key desires: I want to know, I want to go, I want to do and I want to buy.

In a separate and recent article, Kim Larson, global director of Google BrandLab, suggested that retailers identify micro moments for their pre-roll advertising spots. Pre-roll advertising is typically a 15- or 30-second spot that viewers in most cases can skip after the first five seconds, because the key message has been delivered. Pre-roll video can be tremendously effective in increasing brand recognition in a geo-targeted area, and Larson believes the spot should be viewed as a tool for story making (as opposed to storytelling) in which targeted consumers take part.

Balancing OEM’s Brand-Heavy Message

Dealers can develop the “sweet spot” intersection between the brand and consumer by working outside the box with a 30-second video ad. While the manufacturer may emphasize toughness of an F-150 truck, your dealership audience may need to have it shown in a variety of ways. Here are some other ways I’ve seen dealerships develop their own brands in micro moment ads:

  • We have been serving the community for 20 years and have the largest selection of certified Toyotas in the city.
  • We will not let you make a mistake in buying a pre-owned car, because we let you return it within two days.
  • We provide free oil changes for life for every new and pre-owned vehicle we sell.
  • We are a best-price dealership, meaning we offer all customers the best terms up front so that you avoid negotiations.

A potential story making moment could have customers discussing how the lack of negotiations comforted them, or how the wide selection of certified vehicles made the entire process easier.

Pre-Roll Ad settings1st 5 Seconds Must Be Memorable

The first five seconds of any pre-roll spot are critical, since the viewer can opt out immediately afterward. Impactful and memorable micro moments can be leveraged to keep a prospective customer engaged beyond those five seconds. If a dealership is serving ads to the right audience (prospects looking at automotive content) and has a memorable message, it has an opportunity to drive those prospects to its website after the pre-roll is viewed (post-view clicks).

Data suggest that to keep the audience engaged after the first five seconds of a pre-roll spot, it is important not to overemphasize the brand name from the outset. Those data also suggest that humor helps drive higher completed view percentages. Prospects do not like a hard sell when it comes to pre-roll.

Let’s examine a hypothetical example. Say that Any Town Ford is running a traditional spot promoting an F-150. That dealership might include in its script for the first five seconds of the ad: “0 percent financing for 72 months, plus $1,000 off any new 2015 F-150. Only at Any Town Motors!” The problem is that many prospects will opt out after five seconds, and the offer alone won’t be enough to keep them engaged afterward. A micro moment is needed to keep the automotive intender’s attention.

So, an option for the pre-roll spot could showcase the F-150 in micro moment situations – say, for example, the truck pulling a boat out of a lake. The pre-roll could direct attention to the dealership’s name with a shot of a dealer license plate, as opposed to flashing a banner of the dealer’s name. As dealers build their pre-roll spots, they need to consider how the music, scene, graphics, color, voice-over and message fit together to create a memorable ad for the prospect.

Pre-Roll Cannot Be Boring

You need to remember that pre-roll video interrupts something else your prospect wants to do, like watching a video of his favorite football team on ESPN. Even if your audience is researching a car purchase online, your pre-roll is getting in the way at least momentarily. If the ad is boring, your opportunity is lost.

Here are some metrics and guidelines in determining the effectiveness of your pre-roll advertising:

  • Completed views: 15 percent to 25 percent (are you serving to the right audience, and is the message compelling?). If you are tracking 10 percent, you have a problem.
  • Click-throughs to your website: 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent (effectiveness of your ad). Please note that the click-throughs are lower if you are using TrueView rather than DoubleClick.
  • Cost per click: $3.00 to $4.00 (the goal isn’t a low CPC). Cost per view: 10 cents to 12 cents.
  • CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions): $15 to $25. The goal isn’t just a low CPM. The CPM for a Porsche spot will be higher that of a Chevrolet operation in the same city, if you are properly delivering the ads to the right audience.
  • Track post-click and post-view traffic: Post-click means the prospect watched the video and was impressed enough with its message to come back to the website sometime during the next 60 days. Post-view indicates that the prospect viewed the video but didn’t click on the link to get redirected to the website, but did click on that link within some period of time.

Be Creative In Seeking Ideas

Usage of pre-roll video is expected to grow aggressively. Your dealership’s success in leveraging the medium depends on your willingness to adapt and avoid using the same types of spots as on the traditional marketing side.

Demand that your outside marketing agency showcases how it will reach the desired percentage of auto intenders who avoid traditional media. Be willing to conduct focus group sessions at your dealership to determine what attracts prospects’ attention, looking for clues about what keeps them engaged beyond the ad’s first five seconds and how you can develop micro moments.

Phil Sura
Phil Sura
Phil has worked in that role for 11 years at UnityWorks, which creates video for ads, SEO messages and websites for the automotive industry. He also speaks at dealer conferences and writes for automotive trade magazines around the country. Before coming to UnityWorks, he spent four years as a dealership GM and 13 years with a dealership consulting group.

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