A New Streaming Ad Format
Most streaming ad formats feature full motion video, like TV commercials, but this one will use static images, accompanied by a sound track and a URL click through. "Static images are easier to produce," says Scott Filipps, On24's director of ad sales, who notes that in order to produce a full motion ad an interactive agency would have to go to the traditional agency to get video footage and then digitize it for the Net.
Static images are also better for the majority of computer users with low bandwidth connection. "It doesn't damage the user viewer experience," Filipps says. "With streaming ad insertion, advertisers aren't interested in full motion video, but in reaching the user base and this makes it easier to do."
Filipps' comment about a disinterest in full motion video is certainly debatable, but the easier to produce comment is true. It will be easy for agencies to get their streaming ads up and running with On24. All they'll have to do is provide On24 with a static gif image and a script for the soundtrack. "We overlay the soundtrack and do the voice track ourselves," Filipps says. "Then, we embed the click through URL."
The result is a streaming ad with three components: the static image, the soundtrack and the click through to the client's site.
Visitors to sites with On24 content select stories they want to view from an archive menu. The ads will play before the stories appear, making them gateway ads. Filipps says ads will play before any story more than two minutes in length. If visitors select more than one story in excess of two minutes, they could see the same ad more than once, although On24 limits the amount of times an ad can be seen, he says.
On24 announced the new format today. Filipps says two clients have signed to use it - Genuity and Thestreet.com.
MediaPost spoke with the agencies working for these clients, and their opinions of the new format are mixed. When asked about the use of static images in the On24 format, Jason Tsai, media supervisor of SF Interactive, Genuity's agency, says, "We wanted something that was a little richer, but the limitations of file size prevented us from doing a video ad. Ideally, we want to do a video commercial before On24's streaming content plays, but in absence of that a static gif with an audio component is more impactful than just a gif or banner. The sound element is what makes it stand out from a banner or one of the new big formats."
Tsai also says the "captive audience" is a benefit. Since users see the ads before they see the news stories they select, "they're right there," he says. But Rudy Grahn, a Jupiter Media Metrix analyst, thinks that could be a hindrance. "The interruptive type of advertising is more in vogue now, but it's not something consumers seek out and they might be offended," he says.
Joanna O'Connell, senior account manager for Iballs/Avenue A, Thestreet.com's New York agency, says she's unsure whether Thestreet.com will use a static image. "I'd rather run a video clip because it's more interesting, but it depends on what the client wants to do. If the video is too complicated, we might run a gif."
Advertisers can also run full motion ads on On24.
Ads with all three components-static image, audio and URL click-through, are being sold at $50 CPM.
- Ken Liebeskind may be reached at email@example.com