All That Online Video Is Great, Except When It's Really Not


Everybody seems to be in a congratulatory mood this week, as major content providers show off their wares.  They have reason to be pumped up. Online video revenues are zooming, and so is viewership and the future looks bright indeed. Party on.

And yet...The greatest and worst thing about the Internet is that it’s instant and pretty much universal, so at the best, a message gets out quickly and, from an advertising standpoint, as broadly as the advertiser wants and/or can afford. The flip side is all of that, too, plus the sheer impossibility for some advertisers to know exactly where their ads attached to video are showing up.

On Monday, shortly after Jason Collins became the first not-retired pro athlete playing for the NBA, NHL  NFL or Major League Baseball to admit his homosexuality publicly, I zipped to YouTube to see how quickly its users would react. They’ve now plastered pages of videos devote to the NBA journeyman, but in the first hour or so there were only a couple. One was from “Seth Hater” who bought his animation (apparently) from Go! Animate. It was a rant about how Collins would now become the liberal’s pet. I won’t go on, but it’s pretty fair to say that even if you ran that chicken joint that doesn’t like gays, you wouldn’t want your product to be associated with this YouTube post.

But before I could watch it, I had to watch a daffy “review” of the Chevy Volt, pre-packaged by  Obviously, neither Chevrolet or knew their advertising was there, but it was.

Now, I’d have a reason to keep my distance from both, if I were less sure they were innocents. (The pre-roll is not there this morning, I see.)

Later on Monday, I visited the Comedy Central site to check out “Inside Amy Schumer,” the new half-hour show debuting tonight. She’s kind of interesting, once, which is what a lot of her humor is about—one-night stands and ultimate rejection, told in potty-mouth style. Comedy Central’s site added an online video sampling of her stand-up. Before every one was the same pre-roll for Wheat Thins, in which a puppet named John is told by white-coated lab scientists that no, he can’t have any crackers because he’s a puppet incapable of eating.  It’s not funny. I could provide a link so you could see for yourself, but a link in some cases connotes approval. So if you want to see Seth Hater, Amy Schumer and Wheat Thins, you are on your own. Believe me, you will be wasting your time.   

Back to Wheat Thins. Even if that Wheat Thins pre-roll had been hilarious, how many times could I see the same commercial in a short period of time without a negative effect?  The IAB reported this week that a record 45 million Americans watch professional (not Seth Hater) online video every month, and they hate commercials about as much (65%) as HDTV viewers do (63%).  

I wonder. Assuming some marketers and advertisers endure their own personal moments of excess online—a lot of annoyance packed into a short package of entertainment—you can see the problems online advertising still should have. It’s a lot of message for not a lot of product. As if to make this very point, Conan O’Brien, joked at the White House Correspondents Dinner last weekend that before the show began, he saw Ariana Huffington and went over to say hello. But, he said, “she made me watch a 30-second ad first.”

1 comment about "All That Online Video Is Great, Except When It's Really Not".
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  1. Brad Stewart from Molecule Inc., April 30, 2013 at 8:56 a.m.

    To add to the discussion, informative but unsettling news clips are also part of this same equation. Recently, I frantically NEEDED to find coverage of a daycare shooting. Were any children hurt? Is this the daycare my best friend's child attends? As I scrambled to find info and pressed play on "Breaking news of daycare shooting" a 30 second pre-roll was served up. Publishers need to find balance here between tantalizingly high impressions and viewers' feelings.

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