Touchstorm Plans an 'Arena' That Surrounds the Online Video Advertisement

Touchstorm, a top online video distributor, has put together a new hybrd video plattorm that lets advertisers put their message on a Web page that is a comfortable fit with the product. It’s a way for advertisers that have video too long for  pre-roll and too blatantly commercial to be considered as “editorial’ to find a place for their message to fit contextually.

The new service called Arena, builds a page of content on a relevant topic and then plops the advertiser’s video right in the middle. These Arena pages will then be distributed through Touchstorm’s Earned Media Network that it says has a potential reach of 58.4 million, based on comScore data.

Alison Provost, Touchstorm’s CEO, announced Arena earlier today (Jan. 9) and hopes to have it operational by February.  

It works like this: Say a clothing brand has produced a video about the new, cool pastel colors in their upcoming line. Arena takes that video and places it around relevant copy—let’s say, a special Web page on spring fashions—that attracts readers who want the information and would find the fashion video just a handy, relevant part of the otherwise editorial part of the Spring Fashion Page.  Arena furnishes the editorial too.



Arena grew from the need—the frustration, it sounds like—of finding a way to get too blatantly commercial videos a place to live online. The new ad campaign tries to touch all the video windows of opportunity. Sometimes they push too hard. Ad agencies still have trouble avoiding the pitch, and clients probably too often insist upon it.  

“When we look at videos on a spectrum, way over the right you have 15 second video from a brand, obviously pre-roll,” Provost explains. “Over on the left  is editorial. The brand is being expert at helping people out but they’re not selling. They’re not crossing that line. It’s not advertising content. It’s editorial content.” And up to now, it’s been that content that has been Touchstorm’s business.  

“But a lot of brands have produced video content that is the middle of that spectrum. It’s too long to be advertising and too branded to be editorial. The old fashioned terms would be advertorial.”

And that’s where Arena comes in. The Arena pages, she thinks, are “genuinely native.” They come with a variety of templates—one for fun topics like fashion, another for information-dense material to be used, let’s say, by  a pharmaceutical firm that wants to be front and center on a special Aches and Pains page that Arena could conceive for them. Publishers get a slice of the revenue.

The pages come with all the required social media links consumers would expect.

“This is all designed to deal with whatever the advertising agency helped to produce,” Provost says. “All brands are saying we’ve got to have video but typically the ad agency can’t help themselves but turn it into an ad.”

Arena, at least in theory, finds a contextual way to use the video. The concept seems a little like a pop-up store, with special Web pages that just exist for a short while—Arena will offer four, eight and 12 week packages—for the sake of the advertiser but for the convenience of the consumer, too.  We’ll see.

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