1) The Internet is breaking the bandwidth barrier as more than 50 percent of online users now have high-speed Internet connections. This makes it possible for a critical mass of online audiences to experience sight, sound, and motion somewhere else besides their TVs.
2) The Internet is increasing its share of the media pie as usage continues to increase relative to watching TV, reading newspapers and magazines, and listening to the radio. Moreover, tradition media is fragmenting at a furious pace with hundreds of cable and satellite channels, terrestrial vs. satellite radio (soon to be vs. iPod radio) and an excess of 15,000 consumer magazines.
3) Recently completed research by Pfizer and MSN shows that Internet video ads perform as effectively as TV ads in delivering a branding message. With this, there is a growing realization that TV and the Internet are complementary media and that using a combination of TV and Internet video may be the most powerful way to deliver a message to consumers.
4) Agencies and advertisers are discovering that the enhanced reporting possible from Internet video gives them more actionable information than any other medium. The ability to measure the size of the viewing audience precisely as well as access to information about the 'real time spent' by the consumer viewing and interacting with the ad are hugely valuable tools for marketing professionals in helping them to evaluate the effectiveness of their ad spending.
While all of these developments are positive signs for online video, the real revolution is taking place in front of the camera.
There will always be a place in Internet advertising for repurposed video first shot for TV. Advertisers seeking lost TV viewers can hope and expect to reach them online reinforcing their message with the same or very similar (meaning in most cases, shorter) creative both on and offline. And isn't it nice to be able to amortize the cost of TV commercials by reusing part of their creative content in another medium?
But increasingly, we are seeing original video shot just for the Web as stand-alone creative or as part of multimedia campaigns delivered to a multiplicity of audiences such as in theater, TV, video games, cell phones (and perhaps those iPods again), as well as online.
This calls for some new creative thinking:
1) Length: Some have argued that since users have control over clicking off of online video (or muting it) that the creative shouldn't be longer than 10 second. But of the 400 film campaigns we've worked on, an average of 42 percent of end users watch at least 22.5 seconds of a 30-second spot. Clearly, movie spots have compelling creative, but so can ads from CPG, financial services, and electronics. If the spot pops, users will stick around for the 30-second spot. For other verticals, somewhere between 18 and 22 seconds is effective.
2) User Involvement: The big difference between TV and online video is the opportunity to get the user actively involved with the ad unit. This can happen when the user is genuinely interested in the message content (a movie trailer) and is willing to pursue more information (read a review, find out when and where it is on, and ultimately even make a purchase decision like buying a ticket). It can also happen when the user is attracted by the format of the ad unit itself as when it provides the chance to play a game, participate in a poll, or give an opinion. The greater the involvement, the greater the likely retention of a branding message. The now famous Burger King chicken is a good example of getting a message across by letting the user get involved and have some fun interacting with the ad unit. Creative work on this dimension is just in its infancy--this will play and play.
While some have posited that the world will neatly divide between online and offline marketing, the fact is they will increasingly converge with video as the central focus. Why is this more apparent with banners or other rich media units? Simply this, the creative community grew up on video commercials. They are convinced that sight, sound, and motion are essential for most branding objectives and they have seen years of positive return on investment from using video (or film) on TV. As the Internet matures, they will learn the art and sometimes science of putting video to effective use online.