Commentary

Online Video Advertising Is Growing Up

The Internet has liberated video, removing it from the shackles of TV sets and movie screens and turning it into digital mercury. Today, discussions about online video inevitably lead to deeper dialogue about emerging video on platforms such as video iPods, cell phones, VOD, and next-gen television.

While the tech utopia is rapidly becoming a reality, it's important to keep in mind that the most immediate and scalable opportunity to reach viewers outside of television currently exists online. According to Comscore, a global market research provider and consultant for Internet usage, more than 100 million users consume online digital media (streams and downloads) in the U.S. per month, which represents almost 60 percent of the U.S. online population (97.5 million computers).

And now, rich media means video doesn't have to fit in the constraints of a media player. With all the options available today, you need to ask yourself: Are my campaigns realizing the full potential of this medium?  Here's a look at several online video options and the advantages they have over traditional forms of advertising.

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Video Ads Take Many Forms

1) In-Stream Spot: This is the most pervasive type of video advertising today. In this case, your ad appears as a pre-roll or a bumper during content. The 15-second format has emerged as the standard in this space, and the "companion ad" that's positioned next to the video offers a call to action or extension for your message. This additional element is very powerful for capturing or providing additional information, or driving your target to a direct transaction. 

2) In-Banner Video: This vehicle is breathing new life into standard IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) sizes.  Today, the entire surface of a banner can be non-user-initiated video.  A leaderboard or skyscraper can act as a window on a Web site that attracts a user to rollover and reveal more information.  Sophisticated shops are now shooting commercials at several angles, producing versions for media players, skyscrapers, leaderboads, etc. This forethought ensures that the message is conveyed in any environment.

3) In-Content Integration: This is the newest and perhaps most promising trend in made-for-online broadband video content.  Imagine the product placement/brand integration that marketers typically attribute to a television show. In the Internet version, your brand/product is written into the script of an online show and mentioned by the hosts; the show contains brand elements throughout. 

The Promise of Online Video In addition to numerous studies that prove the effectiveness of video advertising on brand metrics, online video has distinct advantages over traditional Web and television advertising.

 1) Measurement: In-stream ads take the mystery out of impression measurement.  Buyers can not only control frequency, but can report on cross-site duplication, maximizing reach. In addition, buyers can measure all of the activity online marketers have come to expect.

2) Consumer approval: The new research findings from Points North Group and Horowitz Associates tell us that consumers prefer advertising over premium payment for on-demand video (only 17 percent of users polled would rather pay for advertising-free content than watch "free" content with ads).  In the face of eroding trust in advertising, this is an extremely positive notion.

3) All content now created equal: Perhaps most importantly, online video is not a slave to the TV ratings game.  Every impression is an individual consumer's choice to watch content; not collectively, but individually.  If consumers enjoy the video, then they will feel that it is worth their time.

 Adding online video into your mix can take a campaign from typical banners and bad puns to a creative, sophisticated expression that fuses the emotional connection of television, with the engagement and measurability of the Internet. 

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