Publicis Execs Detail 'Pool' Initiative
At an IAB Digital Video conference on Monday, Publicis executives offered insights into the initiative, dubbed the Pool, although its final form and functionality remain a mystery.
"We're down to two models, which have very different flavors in terms of length of time," said Tracey Scheppach -- who, as SVP and Video Innovation Director at Starcom USA, is credited with conceiving of the Pool.
The team began with 30 ad models that they voted down to five, which were then subjected to qualitative testing to arrive at the two remaining units. Those two units are presently undergoing extensive quantitative tests, and the winner is expected to debut by February 2010.
The winning unit, added Scheppach, will not be unfamiliar to the experienced Web user. "Most of the units, you have seen in the marketplace," she said.
The original idea by Pool -- named to connote group effort -- was to improve the effectiveness of online advertising for the industry, and the quality of the viewing experience for consumers, according to Curt Hecht, president of Publicis' VivaKi Nerve Center.
"Nobody really looked at what was right from a consumer engagement perspective," Hecht said, referring to the dawn of online video when pre-roll was hastily established as the standard industry ad format. With the Pool, Hecht added, "all of these partners wanted to come together and find that right format."
Advertisers participating in the initiative -- all clients of Publicis agencies -- include Allstate, Applebee's, Capital One, Nestle and Purina, each of which has been guaranteed rights to purchase the first new inventory that will be made available with the new format.
According to Scheppach and Hecht, participants in the Pool's development each had to cover the costs of the research and development process.
Critics have questioned whether the right strategy is to focus on a single video ad format to satisfy a broad and diverse consumer audience. But that is hardly the point of the Pool, according to Scheppach. "This is not about destroying creativity," she said. "It's not about finding one (model) ... This is about creating a model that we can agree upon."
Short-form and long-long content will likely benefit from a markedly different ad unit, added Hecht. In that vein, he said of the possible variations on the winning model: "There may be five or six that can go on top of it."
The pool ultimately plans to create other "lanes," and is exploring research and development projects that would partner with the rest of the industry to develop better standards for video search, social media, mobile advertising and other rapidly emerging media platforms.
The new format is being developed specifically for the online video marketplace. VivaKi also is eyeing new formats for enhanced television platforms -- including video-on-demand, which also relies heavily on so-called "pre-roll" spots -- as well as addressable and interactive TV commercials.