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A Q&A with Jonathan Yantz at M&C Saatchi Performance

By Jonathan Yantz, a Managing Partner @ M&C Saatchi Performance | September 23, 2022

Q&A with Jonathan

Jonathan Yantz is a Managing Partner at M&C Saatchi Performance, a digital marketing agency that seeks to tell the human story behind data. Jonathan brings a decade-plus of experience with media strategy and execution across entertainment, education, retail, and hospitality industries, providing insight into how to get the most out of the current and emerging platforms while navigating a constantly changing privacy and regulatory landscape. He specializes in user acquisition, ROI, and consumer engagement.

How has mobile video advertising changed on iOS in light of ATT and privacy changes?

I don’t consider mobile video drastically different from any other iOS activity. Ensure that your MMP of choice provides the best solutions for SKAN and take advantage of your partners’ and platforms’ latest capabilities, especially when working with social. For example, Snapchat has its Advanced Conversions feature and TikTok allows you to send all events, including unattributed events, to the platform. 

“Ensure that your MMP of choice provides the best solutions for SKAN and take advantage of your partners’ and platforms’ latest capabilities, especially when working with social.”

Also, there is a lot to unpack when we think about how privacy thresholds will evolve with SKAN 4.0, which is still on the way. You need to choose the best setup for your campaign, such as optimizing to installs or certain earlier in-app events, depending on your goal.

Have any changes to mobile video advertising been dramatic enough that advertisers need to adapt their strategy as Google’s Privacy Sandbox approaches?

It’s better to prepare now. Privacy Sandbox is still being vetted and finalized and will likely be pushed into 2024. We don’t know exactly how the result will look. I imagine its rollout will be similar to Apple’s, where it is evolving from first launch capabilities to adding additional features over time. They are also likely taking the time to learn what is and isn’t working and where advertisers’ frustrations are from the iOS side. 

Optimizing your user journey is critical. If you assume privacy thresholds will continue in Google’s iteration of privacy, then work toward ensuring that there are enough optimization signals up front where you are confident in your ability to measure a user’s final intent. Try to stagger and build your first-party data even more than you already have — especially if there are ways where you can incentivize people to share even just an email address so that you can retarget in your own way.

How can advertisers ensure mobile video stays effective in a privacy-first world?

Constantly test, stay ahead of evolving best practices by understanding who you are trying to reach, and make sure you are authentic on each platform. These ideas go hand-in-hand.

When testing, have a clear structure and follow all best practices, like isolating a clear variable, constantly learning and adapting, and designing new creative where possible. Depending on the platform and if you are strapped for creative resources, this is where you can potentially leverage influencers for your campaigns.

It was common knowledge that advertisers should not just take a TV spot and assume it’ll work on Facebook as-is. This insight was significant five, even eight years ago at this point. Now, the natural evolution is to avoid slapping your TikTok video on Instagram or YouTube Shorts without adapting it to the platform. 

Understand who you are targeting — there are definitely generational nuances — and then understand how they use a given platform. For example, younger generations use TikTok as a search and discovery tool. Think about how someone will interact with your video when social media channels serve it as an ad, but also how someone may try to seek it out and what it would mean to them when they find it. You need to also understand what gets users to click on your ad then test and examine your data constantly.

Are social channels dominated by videos, such as TikTok and Instagram, performing better for mobile video advertisers than traditional digital marketing channels?

It varies. It is less about the specific channel and more about emphasizing the right video content. It also depends on your goal and attribution windows. 

TikTok and Instagram generally perform better from a last-click perspective than YouTube, but traditional display campaigns can sometimes outperform any of these channels. However, if you are using view-through, engaged view, or other methods of closed-loop measurement, then they are on a relatively even playing field. Of course, this assumes you have the right content. A highly-polished TikTok video won’t do nearly as well as a highly-polished video on streaming TV. It could go either way as long as you have the right creative for the right setting.

How can advertisers leverage influencers to maximize the efficacy of mobile video campaigns?

We have seen a lot of success with influencer campaigns. If you are trying to reach Millennials and younger generations, you cannot discount the impact of word-of-mouth advertising and the authenticity many influencers bring to the table. 

There are nuances between Millennials and Gen Z, and many realize that influencers are getting paid for covering products. The implication that influencers get to choose the products and brands they work with leads audiences to follow them because people trust their taste. 

“Having someone talk about your brand in genuine, authentic terms can tell much more than just scrolling through images on Instagram.”

We see influencer partnerships work well in subscription, retail, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) industries. It’s wildly successful in many ways, whereas trying to make an overly-produced, cinematic video to tell your brand story may not always connect. Influencers can share their opinions on why they liked the product or service. You could also leverage influencers to tell different stories about a brand’s environmental impact or other things that may resonate with certain generations or types of consumers that can come off as heavy-handed if you try to do that messaging yourself.

Having someone talk about your brand in genuine, authentic terms can tell much more than just scrolling through images on Instagram. When you can factor in how a product or service integrates into your own life in a way that aligns with the influencer’s life, that can make a huge impact, even in only 15-20 seconds.

Which verticals have historically been the most successful at leveraging mobile video advertisements?

Subscription, automotive products, and anything with numerous or complicated use cases, like medical, insurance, or education products and services. But really, any vertical that gets value out of storytelling can leverage mobile video advertising to great effect. 

For example, CPG brands are just trying to be top of mind; in some ways, brands can do that through video. But suppose your awareness is already maxed out, and you just need to be top of mind when someone walks into a store or shops on Amazon. In that case, video probably isn’t giving you as much incremental value as a quick image or a display placement.

On the other hand, there is an oversaturation of the subscription service market, with dozens of streaming video and music channels, delivery services, and so on. Even if everyone sells a different product, they still compete for a share of the household budget. It is important to differentiate your subscription service as essential; video can help tell that story.

Are there growth opportunities for verticals that haven’t previously adopted mobile video advertising strategies?

Brands who do not traditionally have a visual product (think Spotify or insurance companies) or brands that may run into copyright or licensing issues can see tremendous growth from a mobile video advertising strategy with some out-of-the-box thinking. Specifically, these brands can leverage animated content to bring their products to life uniquely and compellingly.

By leaning on easy-to-create visuals stitched together with animated text, brands can encourage viewers to turn on the audio accompanying the video content, giving these companies a chance to take advantage of the many video-only placements available on social media. These animated videos are a simpler, cost-effective way for brands to test the video waters without big commitments like creating massive TV spots or jumping right into the influencer world.

What advice would you give to mobile marketers asking for an increased budget to elevate their mobile video advertising campaign?

Have a clear plan to show growth, ideally at incremental levels. While you still have a smaller budget, you could potentially do geo holdouts. You don’t necessarily need to reach a certain reach and frequency level nationally. If you can isolate similar geos, then you can split them, even at the city level, and measure any incremental lift.

You could play with different reach and frequency levels to understand the point where you start to see diminishing returns and use that as your plateau. That will help you explain that, at similar efficiency levels, you can bring in more consumers with a larger budget when extrapolated nationally. If the efficiency is the same, then you are gaining additional people incrementally and the payoff from the extra budget is worth it.

You can also tie this back to iOS’ updated privacy thresholds. If you are offering a product with a higher price point, you may not see enough conversions immediately. Testing around incremental budget increases may help those conversions to clear these new privacy thresholds, which will aid with data measurement and channel optimization.

You could call it a lot of things — imperfection, authenticity —- but this is the biggest thing with younger generations. 

We are moving past the era of filtered aesthetics, where everyone looks perfect and projects an idealized version of themselves. People just want to see their real selves reflected in a real-world setting. You don’t need multi-million dollar budgets to make the best video content, especially if it is not going to be as compelling as a regular person recording a video on their phone.

“You don’t need multimillion-dollar budgets to make the best video content, especially if it’s not going to be as compelling as a regular person recording a video on their phone.”

This authenticity, along with the immersion of vertical video, is driving many of today’s trends. It’s why platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts are seeing wild success. Even outside of video, platforms like BeReal are seeing major DAU and MAU success by focusing less on the “perfect” and more on in-the-moment authenticity.

Influencers are also driving trends, though performance marketers aren’t necessarily focusing on the macro-influencers with millions of followers. We are seeing the most success in the small- to mid-tier influencers with a curated following of people who want to see their content. Those influencers are also more selective of what or who they work with, making them feel more authentic to their audience.

Can you share any other best practices for mobile video advertising?

For younger audiences, the TikTok approach is crucial. Stick to shooting vertical video ads with relatively cheap production value — you can even shoot video ads directly on a mobile phone, through either the rear-facing camera or the front-facing selfie mode. Whatever filming techniques you use, create an emotional connection early on and clearly explain the use case so your audience can picture themselves using the product or service. Captions are a must to increase ad accessibility for viewers who leave their phone on mute, are on a subway or other area with a lot of noise, or are deaf or hard of hearing. 

“As much as millennials and Gen Z get all the headlines, it’s important not to forget about older audiences, especially since they continue to have a lot of buying power.”

As much as millennials and Gen Z get all the headlines, it is important not to forget the older audiences, especially since they continue to have a lot of buying power. These audiences are generally okay viewing ads with a higher perceived production value and respond to a mix of vertical or horizontal content. Tie concepts of the family into content whenever possible, explain your value proposition or sale offering early on, and present a clear CTA to achieve the best success rate.