Putting the Person in Personalized Video

Rachel Eisenhauer March 08, 2018
Putting the Person in Personalized Video

In today’s age of smaller consumer attention spans and crowded marketplaces, video is one of the most compelling storytelling mediums. It uses two of the most important senses – sight and sound – to captivate viewers and their emotions.

Is it any wonder that video captures 74% of the world’s web traffic?

It’s in this arena that personalized video has risen to the forefront of best marketing practices. Targeted, relevant ad content can guide behaviors and drive purchasing decisions, as forward-looking brands such as Citi, Comcast, Hudson’s Bay and AT&T have discovered. A depth of engagement with a brand can only come about when personalization crosses the chasm of ‘trumped up’ segmentation and into the truly individual.

It hadn’t always been that way. For too long, marketers found satisfaction from ‘checking the box’ on personalization strategies that celebrated a [first name] insertion. But going one or two layers deeper, a smarter degree of personalization could combine [first name] with [last product viewed] and perhaps a varied [call-to-action]. Lately, two waves of dynamic creative optimization (DCO) companies have sprouted promising one-to-one communication at scale. The trouble is that for all of the excitement around DCO, it generally gets deployed to optimize toward marginal improvements in conversion rates. Further, it lacks the emotional punch of full-motion (or live-action) video.

Google’s foray into the personalized-video game at the end of last year validates the format  as a category worth investing in, both with regard to Google’s engineering resources and as a way for more marketers to get exposure to the possibilities of the technology.

For the past 10 years, brands have faced the challenge of how to marry the emotional resonance of video with the data-driven capabilities of digital, transforming traditional, linear video into modular, personalized experiences. It demands a rethinking of how to shoot video – by answering five questions about how to make video modular and data-driven:

1. Who

Who is eligible to receive a personalized video? When video is modular and data-driven, this means that the audience can be defined much deeper than the persona segment level, but by their historical behavior, current contextual state and channel of engagement, and by their next-best actions and the future goals they hope to achieve.

2. Where

Where should a viewer receive a personalized video – on what page, app, or distribution channel? When video is data-driven, the message, on-screen text and narration should match where the viewer receives the video. For instance, “click the buttons on-screen” is dynamic narration for a desktop device that changes when the same viewer is watching the video on a mobile device: “tap the buttons on-screen.”

3. When

When is the best time to render a personalized video (and will that time of day necessitate a different set of scenes to tell a better story?)

4. What

What scenes should that video contain and what data-driven elements should drive personal content?

5. How

How do the storytelling elements and creative assets compile in the video – should there be a voiceover or is the video intended for an audio-off viewing experience like on Facebook? Should that voice be male or female? How should the video use color and style? How should the viewer receive a call-to-Action and what type of action? How should scenes expand or contract based on the time needed for a voiceover to tell the story?


Nothing sells better than video, and there’s enormous creative power in making video personal. Now that an A-list brand like Google is playing the personalized-video game, it’s a testament to the future of the medium and the promise of delivering video marketing on a mass one-to-one level. It’s time to get on board. Start by downloading our Beginner’s Guide To Next-Gen Personalization!

Guide to Personalized Video CTA Image