Primetime for Webcasts?
Webcasting, a virtually new medium, begs the question: what’s the draw for advertisers? For one, it can be a tremendous brand-promotion vehicle. Also, while the event is going on, users can watch streaming video, listen to audio, buy products and chat with event celebrities or other online community members who are also participating in the webcast. There are plenty of potential advertising and branding opportunities. Today, there are two predominant models for ad representation in webcasts: exclusive sponsorships and rich media enabled banner ads. Simply put, in the case of exclusive sponsorships, the benefit to advertisers is questionable, unless you are THE exclusive sponsor.
The second existing model is straight banner advertising—buying an ad for your client on someone else’s webcast. While there’s been much ado about advertisers solely sponsoring a webcast event without selling any other brand’s banners, experts say banner ads have the potential to accomplish a lot for your client. Image branding, for one. With banners, an advertiser’s brand will be extended on the web as far as you want to pay for: some buyers have thus far spent upwards of $30 million on webcast banners. Webstreaming event hosts that have sold banner inventory rack up their numbers when a web user clicks on an ad banner, which takes that user to a microsite hosted by 24/7 or DoubleClick, often using technologies like Enliven or Unicast to enhance the user’s interactive experience.
Though most media buyers and marketing folk agree that webcast advertising is an exciting new way to promote their brands, there is still some resistance by the advertisers themselves. Since it’s “not as easily measurable as other buys,” says Brian Cavoli, Media Director of Carat Interactive, “it’s much more of a branding effort, and some of my clients are conservative.” Too conservative to bring leggy models to Cannes—or a legal rave to Detroit like the recent Groovetech.com music festival—revenue-driven by one of his buys? Perhaps, but probably not for much longer.
Conformity issues aside, are webcasts a good investment? Absolutely. Webcasts are said to be the ultimate in “sticky” content: with a traditional banner running on a number of web sites, you’re lucky if a visitor stays five seconds to one minute while viewing the content of the banner, unless it has rich media capabilities. With webcasts, the time at an advertiser’s site can range from five minutes to an hour. As ever, the quality of the content matched with the demographic will determine the metric. Regardless, looking at the latter two options, both banners on a webcast and exclusive sponsorship of an event seem like better investment options than buying regular banner ads on a targeted, non event-oriented site. Those who have been in webcast marketing for a while say that event-driven ads are the way to make your client money—or at least get them noticed more quickly.
You do, however, have to approach the buy the right way. Says Marc Scarpa, President of Jumpcut.com, producer of Groovetech’s webcast, “A lot of advertisers are burning their money doing expensive media buys and getting a bad ROI, whereas they could spend the same amount promoting an event with their pure brand name and do a lot better by retaining the audience.”
Guidelines for Webcast Buys • It’s important to look at who your client is. Do they have a content offering? What is their market? If their target is consumers, you’ll want to look at a sponsorship model. If it’s businesses, as in a B2B situation, you should probably think about buying banners.
• Simply spending a lot of cash isn’t necessarily the most important thing in buying ads for webcasts: careful examination of the demographics and psychographics is. In other words, if you’re Nike, think young and athletic or mobile. If you’re Microwarehouse, look to engage techies and consumers or businesses with serious money.
• How can you use the webcast ads to build community for your client? Is there an opportunity to attract viewers to other events on a regular basis? Talk with your client about getting into the community space if they’re not already there.
Alli Joseph can be reached at Shakagirl@aol.com.