Forget Everything You Know About Video Advertising

  • by May 26, 2010
HTML5 has become the latest battleground for tech companies. With Apple's iPad only supporting HTML5 video (and not Flash), the push to HTML5 has been accelerated. For video advertisers, it is important to understand the effects of HTML5 and how video in the browser enables video advertising to launch to the next level. 


Perhaps the most significant part of the HTML5 spec is the ability of video to be run natively in the browser. Much like native apps on the iPhone, native video enables a whole new level of interaction, emotions, and analytics for online video advertising.

As demoed recently by Apple's Steve Jobs, ads on computers are about to undergo significant changes. Everything from tracking to animation will be altered in the process (for the better). Ad agencies & video ad networks will be able to provide real-time, interactive experiences that aren't limited by plug-ins.

Here are some of the ways ads are going to change: 

Real-time, in-depth analytics. Analytics for video is often separated from web analytics, but with the HTML5 video tag, this will no longer be the case. Playing video natively in the browser allows for a whole new level of analysis, including all video actions, engagement, % complete and view through rate (VTR) being trackable and linkable to standard web analytics such as funnels and conversion rates. For advertisers, this will make it easier to measure the effectiveness of video ads.

Measured interaction. Being able to engage and interact with a video introduces a whole new experience for the user (and publisher). The ability to play video natively in the browser opens a new world for those posting video online while allowing them to gain valuable feedback from viewers. While this scenario above has always been possible on the web to some degree, the difference now is that it will be seamless and ubiquitous (no downloading software, plug-ins or annoying interruptions). A user will be able to watch a video, interact with an ad, buy a product, and then return to the exact spot in the video without interruption.

A more entertaining experience. Imagine watching a video of the latest fashion striding down the runway at Milan. Click items that interest you to learn more information or pull up the designer's website for direct purchase. Viewers will have the ability to interact with ads without interrupting their viewing experience. Furthermore, these ads can be fully immersive and full-page, moving beyond just the video dimensions The advertiser can track what users are doing and respond accordingly, allowing them to dynamically change the ads within the video and the interaction points -- on-the-fly, via small changes in HTML and JavaScript. No video production or re-encoding necessary.

All's well that sells well. HTML5 is probably the most significant update for all kinds of rich media. Especially for video, which has long been awkwardly implemented in browsers, fortunately the path looks clear for the future of in-browser video. As any good advertiser knows, videos create emotion & emotions mean sales. 

7 comments about "Forget Everything You Know About Video Advertising ".
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  1. Bruce May from Bizperity, May 26, 2010 at 4:44 p.m.

    The broadband video revolution begins when the online ad networks work out a way to deliver and support interstitial video ads.... not before.

  2. Mark Jacobs from Mebox Media, Inc., May 26, 2010 at 5:06 p.m.

    The features of HTML are available today (literally as the product I am referring to releases today!)

  3. Anthony Ellertson from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, May 26, 2010 at 5:09 p.m.

    Frank, I've got no problem with HTML5, but please get your facts straight. What you are reporting is seriously in error and could actually cause your readers harm if they make decisions based on your misinformation.

    First, HTML5 is still not even a Web standard yet, and probably will not be for another 3-5 years (an eternity in Web terms). Remember that youTube is only five years old right now--who knows what's coming next.

    Second, a standard video codec for HTML5 is still very much undecided. Google's VP8 offering is set to be the standard, but that will only happen because Adobe has decided to included it in the Flash player (thereby insuring 98% market penetration within a year). The other major players in the HTML5 video codec debate haven't weighed in yet, and Apple/Microsoft still have an interest in seeing H.264 accepted as the standard. What this means is a lot of uncertainty with HTML5 based video until things are worked out (again probably years from now)

    Third, HTML5 video has no encryption protection right now, one of the main reasons that HULU has decided not to pick it up. It also doesn't have a myriad of interactive features which are vital to advertising and interactive navigation--like dynamic cue points for example. Flash currently does have these and this contributes to one of the reasons why it remains the top platform for Web video delivery.

    Fourth, when you say that the most significant thing about HTML5 video is native support in the browser, what does that mean to you? Your paragraph on "Measured Interaction" is offering nothing new. This is already available and being used by companies through the Flash platform. In addition, when you talk about a more entertaining experience through HTML5, have you never actually visited current interactive video sites? The things you are describing are also already spread out across the entire Web. So what is the new stuff that you are talking about?

    Here are facts. HTML5 is very much in its infancy, and its development is in the hands of a variety of self-interested parties whose interests don't always coincide. HTML5 relies on Javascript for its programming logic. Javascript is slow and klunky to develop in because it is not an object-oriented language. Even after HTML5 becomes a Web standard, development for it will continued to be hampered by the same problems that HTML4 currently has. Chief among these is the fact that browsers deal with tags and programming logic differently and force developers to come up with separate (and costly) solutions for each implementation. Some agency owners are estimating that these work flows can result in significant increases in the price of delivery of sites for clients.

    Please, be excited about HTML5, but know the technology and the issues surrounding it before you start to write.

  4. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., May 26, 2010 at 5:47 p.m.

    10 years ago a good friend of mine worked for a company that put up the exact videos you're describing. It was an outdoor sports / snowboarding / skateboarding site where you could click on the outfits the snowboarders were wearing and buy them. Nobody cared then, no one will care now. This is an application that somebody (perahps the author) thinks people want. They don't. Non-event.

  5. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, May 26, 2010 at 7:57 p.m.

    It's so much easier to gee-whiz your way to an article about HTML5 than to also mention the many drawbacks. Hulu isn't jumping on the bandwagon, so why should anyone else? Steve Jobs has had lots of bad ideas over the years. Somehow his acolytes only remember the good ideas and assume he's infallible.

  6. Ronny Le blanc from, May 26, 2010 at 8:32 p.m.

    Mixpo, seattle-based dynamic online video company is doing this kind of stuff now.

  7. Dan Euritt from Ocean Street Video, May 26, 2010 at 8:45 p.m.

    Let me get this straight... Companies in the middle of the worst recession ever seen are going to suddenly re-engineer their websites to HTML5, and re-encode their videos from VP6 to h.264, strictly because the iPad can't play Flash? The iPad has less than 1% of the operating systems on the internet, and Apple has less than 10% of the same.

    So how does a company with insignificant market share dictate internet standards? Hint: it doesn't. Let your website log files dictate where your budget gets spent, and don't fall for the iHype.

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