Smart marketers don’t need to target you — you can do it for them

When watching videos online, I can’t seem to stay in one place. A cooking how-to video will lead me to a documentary and then to some trailer of a TV series that I don’t even watch. Needless to say, I’m all over the grid when it comes to online video watching, and I have come across every type of advertisement known to man. I’ve also found that the ads have been progressively increasing, and it’s rare to watch a video without a promotion at the beginning. 

The techniques that marketers use to target viewers vary from site to site. Youtube typically chooses an ad relevant to the interest of the video that one might be watching. For example, a music video by Adele once successfully showed me an advertisement for something Simon and Garfunkel related, whom I happen to love. 

Youtube’s system is not perfect by any means. I’d like to know why Youtube thinks that someone interested in book reviews would also want ‘hip’ club-wear. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are some who enjoy both a good read and a good night out. It seems to me, though, that avid readers would probably be better suited with an advertisement from a book release or something of that nature.

Further, some Youtube channel pages such as VEVO include ads as the wallpaper of the page. Unfortunately, these don’t tend to be too accurate in my experience. I don’t know about you, but I could definitely do without Nicki Minaj staring into my soul when I try to watch music videos of a different genre.   

Hulu‘s video advertisement system seems much more effective. They have attempted to personalize their ads to the person watching, asking “is this ad relevant to you?” making each viewers ads specific to each individual. The person watching can select “yes” or “no”, and Hulu will personalize the ads to fit their understanding of your interests. 

Hulu’s “ad swap” also allows the viewer to choose which ad they would rather see. This is definitely one of the more successful tactics of advertisement as the viewer can feel somewhat satisfied with the ad because they chose it. 

On any day, I would choose the ad personalization sites because I’d much rather sit and watch something I’m interested in. Perhaps the future of video advertising lies in the ability to let the viewer choose what they see. If so, Hulu is on the right track and Youtube has a little ways to go. 

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