As the lines continue to blur between conventional TV and online video advertising, yet another TV ad convention is going online: upfront audience guarantees. In what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind offer, Undertone has quietly begun guaranteeing advertisers delivery of the most premium online advertising video formats: so-called “user-initiated” video ads. But unlike conventional TV audience guarantees, which normally provide advertisers “makegood” audience impressions, Undertone’s new Video Guarantee will give cash-back to advertisers for campaigns that do not deliver the audiences they contracted for.
The new program, which is being unveiled publicly today, will refund advertisers the full cost of their campaigns up to $50,000, if their ads appear within in-banner auto-play streams or other non-user-initiated video ad inventory.
The program is similar in concept to a program Undertone launched in March giving advertisers up to a $50,000 refund on its display ad network buys if they failed to meet agreed-upon “brand lift” guarantees, and follows an earlier “quality guarantee” it implemented in 2008 on the quality of the pages its clients' ads are placed on.
Undertone claims to have run “more than 10,000 campaigns” to date qualifying for its Quality Guarantee.
Undertone executives said they are offering the new online video audience guarantees as part of an effort to differentiate their premium, user-initiated video ad buys, which they claim are the crème de la crème of the online video ad marketplace, and need to be differentiated from other formats, especially auto-stream inventory that may appear below the fold and may not even be viewed by users that advertisers are paying for.
“The industry needs to coalesce around a set of quality standards for digital video," said Adam Kasper, executive vice president-partnerships and investments at Havas Digital, who has been evaluating the new Undertone program for his clients. "There are just too many horror stories about video being mis-sold -- stories that could ultimately derail the growth the space is currently enjoying. It’s great to see Undertone lead the way with a guarantee that gives buyers more confidence that they’re getting what they pay for.”
Undertone’s new Video Guarantees actually represent a more rigorous standard than conventional TV ad guarantees, which only cover audience exposure, or opportunity-to-see, delivery, because it’s assumed that user-initiated ads are likely to have been seen by the audiences initiating them.