ConAgra Foods Sizes Up Sharethrough’s New Instant-Play Video Ads

ConagraThe rise of autoplay video has propelled many marketers into experimental mode.

ConAgra Foods, which has increasingly invested in multiscreen video, is no different. It’s trying out Sharethrough’s new instant-play video format called Video View Ads, launched Thursday, for brands Orville Redenbacher and Reddi-wip.

Video View Ads are native ads that can be set on silent autoplay to avoid disrupting the user experience on a publisher’s site. Dan Greenberg, Sharethrough’s CEO, said the dynamic nature of the format is conducive to brand advertisers’ needs.

“The idea is to marry text, editorial content and video, so the brand doesn’t have to rely on someone watching an entire 30-second pre-roll,” he said. “You can tell a story that starts with a headline, and support that headline or introductory text with a video that quickly renders visuals or story art for the product.”

For publishers, Greenberg believes it’s a win-win, since in-feed video formats typically generate higher brand lift and command CPMs that are 70% to 120% higher than standard pre-roll inventory when direct sold, he claimed.

That said, ConAgra hasn’t divorced itself from standard units. For certain brands, it invests in a mixture of pre- and mid-roll formats within premium content on desktop, while others place higher precedence on over-the-top and cross-screen video.

“Based on the challenges in the industry [around] bots, viewability and overall bad creative, the native approach to video content provides a way to bring to life a more engaging editorial experience,” commented Heather Dumford, global marketing director for media at ConAgra. “Autoplay content in a feed environment aligns to the editorial approach to feeds so it feels more organic and less forced, which consumers appreciate.”

Although the jury is out on the pros and cons of autoplay video, agencies are experimenting with creative, such as text overlays or branding to augmenting shorter, looping videos.

“In-stream native videos are not just a raw video file, they’re video files with a headline, description, logo and a ‘promoted by’ plug, which automatically gives the consumer more context,” Greenberg said.

These attributes introduce an added layer of visual branding, which mitigates some concerns around completion rates if the user is already exposed to the brand’s assets.

In ConAgra’s initial campaigns, the objective is to drive incremental brand affinity and in-store sales, according to Dumford. For Sharethrough’s Video View Ads, ConAgra is using survey-based brand metrics as a proxy for measurement.

“Going back to the approach of zero-based planning and consumer focus, we absolutely are spending more in digital video than in past years,” she added. “The world is changing and advertisers can either embrace new video viewing trends or be left behind.”

All of Sharethrough’s formats, including instant-play video ads, are sold in an open auction with no fixed prices. However, when a publisher opts to sell direct, they may implement fixed rates. When an ad is more than 50% in view for at least three seconds, it constitutes as a view for Sharethrough’s video formats, though that’s just a baseline.

“I don’t think there will ever be one industry standard, but I will say the one standard that holds true is viewability,” Greenberg added. “In feeds where people are scrolling through content … it’s a very different experience than forcing an interstitial or shoving banners into corners of a site.”

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