Commentary

Video... Is Served

Be they publishers, advertisers or consumers, everyone's mad for video. Higher Internet speeds are giving netizens the concentration of prime-time TV with the freedom of VCRs, leaving publishers and advertisers with the choice to either publish (anything consumers could possibly want online) or perish. Text will no longer suffice. Indeed, Conde Nast Publications--a company with about as much experience in publishing video as Rubbermaid--last week revealed its plans to launch three new broadband video-heavy destination sites next year.

That said, with the help of Unicast's venerable general (manager) Larry Allen, I'll run through some guidelines for you to keep in mind when deploying video ads.

Firstly, it's important to note that most agencies have plenty of experience with video production so long as they're familiar with a popular pastime known as TV. For this reason, broadband video production shouldn't present too huge a conceptual leap.

Now it's time for the thinking caps. Identify a video asset that can translate to the interactive environment, or conceptualize a creative element to accompany/improve the video.

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Bear in mind, interactive video is not a mere dumping ground for repurposed TV spots. The medium is maximized when concepts are developed that leverage video, which is shot specifically for a Web environment and contains interactive elements within the video.

Allen recommends shooting the video in digital format to take advantage of the scale and cost efficiencies it can provide. By shooting and editing digital video, one can develop the standard 30-second spot, but more importantly create multiple interactive concepts efficiently with a series of hidden "easter eggs" or additional video vignettes built into the storyline.

Interlacing flash, 3-D and high-resolution images with the video (once production is complete) gives consumers a heightened engagement experience. Some other features that are beneficial or can drive viral buzz are "click to full screen," "e-mail video," and "data capture" integrated directly into the video experience.

Upon final integration of the creative, a full service rich media provider can help deploy the video ad units. One of the biggest challenges marketers face with video online is consistent quality. Many publishers encode video to different specifications leading to varying ad quality for the end user. This is especially true with in-stream pre-roll advertisements. By leveraging a rich media provider, the marketer will get the highest quality video delivery experience consistently across the various ad formats and publishers on the media plan.

When employing a rich media provider, be sure it can provide key engagement metrics like ad display time, detailed user interactions, and a frequency index. These metrics provide the marketer with the ability to assess performance of the creative and determine its contribution to branding and direct response. By comparing performance among the different creative executions you can adjust delivery based on audience and context to ensure optimal performance.

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