The 'Sushi Approach' To Simplifying Online Video Advertising

I've often found that communicating the value of different types of ad units to clients is almost as challenging as the back end technology work that goes into creating the units themselves.

Each campaign is different, and each targeted audience calls for a new mix in both message and presentation. I like to think of the wide variety of available ad units in terms of sushi: There are lots of different styles, but only a few key families (i.e., sashimi, nigiri, rolls).

This sushi analogy can be useful in helping clients to plan campaigns. Instead of presenting clients that are less familiar with video with a flurry of industry jargon that includes pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll, expandable, overlay, ticker, bumper, bug, interstitial, floating ad, takeover, etc., I find it useful to break things into a few simple families: in-stream, in-banner, and page-level (which includes units like interstitials, floating ads, and page takeovers). This way, you can unclutter your value proposition for potentially timid online video advertising customers, and leave them feeling that they've found the optimal ad mix for their marketing spend.



So what does this mean for the industry?  As we move more and more toward flexible pricing models and hybrid video buys, standardization of terminology and education becomes a paramount issue when working with media buying partners. By presenting the potential formats as "families," it's easier to summarize the pros and cons for individual campaign buys. After that, it's easier to determine which "styles" will be most effective.

Let's look at a few of the high-level pros and cons associated with each of the families described above:


  •       Pros

    Well-understood (and most complementary) when compared to traditional television ads

     Easy to develop if using existing television assets

    Tends to have highest completed views and click-through rates

    High engagement due to a "captured" audience

  •       Cons

    Tends to receive user backlash due to intrusiveness

    Repurposed television ads may not be best-suited for this purpose

    Inventory is generally more expensive than display inventory


  •       Pros

    Easy-to-find, relatively inexpensive display inventory

    Can be easily sold on a performance basis

    Relatively unintrusive (as long as it doesn't auto start with sound)

    Offers many opportunities for rich-media customization

  •       Cons

    Often not as engaging as in-stream or page-level

    May not be seen if appearing below the fold

    If trafficked via an exchange, may not provide desired transparency into site placements


  •       Pros

    Extremely engaging

    Affords tremendous potential for creative freedom

    Offers lots of flexibility for rich media customization

    Great for building awareness and other top of funnel metrics

  •       Cons

    Can be quite expensive, depending upon where it's being run

    If not user-initiated, can be very intrusive and annoying to the user

    May require considerable design work

    In summary, the online video advertising world is changing. It's more flexible, diverse and rife with opportunities -- but media buyers can only take advantage of this more favorable atmosphere if they can clearly understand the benefits and downfalls of all their purchase elements. In this increasingly complex world of video ad unit formats, let's start with the "sushi roll" before diving into the "tempura shrimp wrapped in grilled unagi and avocado."

  • 2 comments about "The 'Sushi Approach' To Simplifying Online Video Advertising".
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    1. Steve Noble from, September 11, 2009 at 3:29 p.m.

      I like your article and simple breakdown. I am always consulting custoimers on the merits of the various types. I agree for the most part but I would give higher grades to the in-story 300x250 video banners. I worked with one that had as high as a 3% (not point 3) click through to a Las Vegas area car dealer website. Ever since that I've been sold on that size too. The trick is in the creative. Again good write up. Thanks for the insight.

    2. Vincent Vandeputte from You, September 14, 2009 at 7:25 a.m.

      All very nice, but you only look at the pro's and con's from the advertisers' point of view. Lasting succes will only be achieved once online advertising is looked at from the users' perspective. Remember who made the internet big, sorry HUGE? The user, not the advertiser. And the user is always right. In a Search Driven environment especially, internet users will not accept any intrusiveness, delay or anything that throws up an obstacle. We pride ourselves at You View TV to have developed an advertising model that works both for the user and the advertiser. (i.e.

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