Streaming Content Begets Streaming Ads
One company is On24.com, a financial news network that distributes content to more than 300 portals and sites, including Yahoo, CNet and Nasdaq. The firm began offering in-stream advertising in the first quarter of this year and its two biggest clients are TheStreet.com and Genuity.
How do they do it? Scott Filipps, senior director of advertising at On24, says the ads they stream are static images with a voice over and a click through URL. He says the ads, such as the one they recently developed for TheStreet.com, run a maximum of 15 seconds long, although On24.com prefers to keep them between 8 to 12 seconds long - "because they're the best received."
Most advertisers associate streaming ads with something similar to mini TV spots, but that's clearly not always the case. Filipps explained that interactive agencies usually don't have TV spots to use or may not want to pay union fees associated with using existing TV spots online. So that agencies and clients don't have to produce "mini tv spots," On24 has developed the above process, which they dubbed a "Hybrid In-stream solution." The ad is delivered as part of the stream request and plays as a Gateway Insertion before the actual content is delivered.
Joanna O'Connell, senior account manager at Avenue A/NYC, TheStreet.com's agency, is happy with these in-stream ad opporrtunities and will continue to use them. "It's an interesting non-standard opportunity," she says.
Ifilm.com, which plays short films and runs film-related content such as reviews and summaries, delivers 15 second ads while users are waiting to see a film. It started offering in-streams late last year, and has run them for Mitsubishi, Absolut, HBO, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Altoids, according to senior VP of sales Don Meek.
Since Ifilm.com is a film site, motion picture companies are major advertisers and Meek says consumer entertainment brands will get the most value out of it.
The first 30 campaigns produced a six to 10 percent click through rate, which prompts Meek to praise the format.
Besides offering in-stream avails, On24.com and Ifilm.com offer advertisers the opportunity to target their ads. They are working with DoubleClick, which uses its DART technology to target in-stream ads. Inextv.com and Launch.com are other publishers DoubleClick is targeting in-streams for, according to Ramesh Kannan, DoubleClick's production manager for rich media.
Yahoo offers in-stream advertising at different areas of its site, including the Finance channel and Yahoo Broadcast. The Finance channel, which plays continuous news from 9 to 5 on weekdays, is broadcast on a tripane player, with video content in the upper left, related text in the upper right and a browser below. Full-length TV spots run in the video area with related text in the upper right with links to sponsor sites.
BMW, Infiniti, Ford, MyDiscountBroker and Cadillac have run in-streams on Yahoo. 360i.com, an Atlanta agency, prepared an in-stream for Onecore, reformulating an existing TV spot and running it on Yahoo Broadcast.
"It's the future of online advertising," says Dave Williams, 360i's president. "The more people adopt broadband, the more you'll see it. And it's nice to be able to use re-purposed TV ads. TV is a one-way medium. This is a different way to create interactivity with traditional TV advertising."