First, let’s look at the 5 IAB Video Rising Stars for 2013/2014, and notice not only the viewability but the interactivity and viewer controls that allow advertisers to know that the ad was not only viewed, but engaged with. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I recommend clicking on the following demos to experience the look and feel of these new formats firsthand:
FilmStrip – “A scrollable, multi-panel, horizontal unit, much like ‘The Filmstrip’ Display and Mobile Standard Ad Units, it allows the viewer to flip through a series of panels” providing a deeper dive, dealer listings, product details, FAQs and more.
The Ad Control Bar - “Sitting above the player controls, an elegant interface allowing viewers to engage in multiple ways, if they so choose. Allows any ad to be interactive without affecting video ad content.”
TimeSync - “Rich ad content overlaid on video, changing in sync with video ad content. Targets and invites interaction at the most appropriate moments.”
Extender - “Allows a viewer to choose to continue viewing ad content. Provides the opportunity for deep video engagement, with permission.”
Full Screen - “Invites viewer to interact and then fills the player with a full canvas of interaction possibilities including more video, social and catalogs, among other features.”
Larger publishers of content are also making a push for higher engagement video ads without turning off their audiences:
AOL “Slide & Fit” - By allowing viewers to not just hit a close button and “nuke” an ad, this unit offers the option of fast-forwarding to the end where the ad closes into a branded display message and a click-to-view button to access the desired content.
Google YouTube TruView Ads - “The advertiser is charged only when a viewer has chosen to watch an ad. Video ads can be delivered in 4 ways: in-stream, in-slate, in-search and in-display.. This is the leading format for cost-per-view (CPV) buying, which could and I believe should be the standard for future T/V placements, even in the online programmatic and traditional linear television sectors.
Yahoo Video Billboard - “When the viewer first arrives at Yahoo.com, the frequency-capped auto intro presents a quick montage of previews, (in this case for) three Showtime comedies (“Shameless,” “House of Lies,” and “Episodes”). When it’s over, the viewer can push the billboard back up, or leave it down to explore and view (extended clips). At any time, the viewer can exit.
Some technology companies are inventing new formats.
Teads.tv inRead format -- (full disclosure: this French company is a business client of mine.) Called “outstream” by the creators, this pre-roll alternative format is placed between paragraphs of text-based editorial, right below the fold where the HD video will play only when over half of it is visible on screen. Of U.S. sites, it can now be found on Forbes, The Economist, Reuters and CNBC.
Even ad agencies are helping create and promote new formats to their clients.
Vivaki’s AsQ Ad Selector format -- By presenting the viewer with three choices of ads or products to view in exchange for digital content viewing, AsQ formats insure greater consumer interest and viewability for the advertiser and a greater sense of choice and control for the viewer. AOL, HuLu, CBS and Yahoo have all used this unit.
The innovations seen here represent just a portion of many new ways that media providers, technology companies, advertisers and agencies are approaching that gold standard of advertising: T/V where ads are actually seen and stories can be painted through the magic of sight, sound and motion. Hopefully, those in charge of ad spending will explore and embrace the formats that work best for them, and bring an open mind to the viewability, engagement, interactivity and ultimately the accountability that these offer. In the end, it would be a healthy leap for the ad-supported media industry if linear television providers needed to compete for ad dollars on the basis of viewability, rather than “opportunity to view” metrics.