We know it must be working, as we've seen a variety of the leading advertisers dip their toe in the water, just to dive in the following year. We've seen multiple studies run to show that adding streaming video to your list of tactics can have a huge impact on not only awareness, but actual sales as well. We've even heard that online video ads can see success at only a frequency of one, so why isn't every media shop and every advertiser jumping on the bandwagon?
The most obvious reason I can see is it's a HARD buy, due to the lack of standards for this new advertising opportunity.
It's HARD to buy, it's HARD to track, and it's even HARDER to execute! It's not impossible, but the sheer time-intensive nature of adding these placements to an already hefty media plan can be daunting. Before we can expect campaigns to blossom in the online video space, we need to address the lack of standards on various levels. What we need are the following:
1) Planning measurement: Most advertisers are more comfortable evaluating streaming video as they would TV. This necessitates our need to convert impressions to demo-impressions, and from there to the ever-popular GRP. However, this GRP is more indicative of the entire site audience than that of video viewers. The most common tools (Nielsen, Comscore) don't yet track by video impressions only, which we very well know can mean a very different audience for "site" vs. "site video".
2) Creative standards: Every forward-thinking content site has developed a new and innovative way to deliver great video content to its video hungry audience. Hooray for innovation! Now think what that means for a creative agency. Ten sites can equal 10 different video formats, 10 different companion ads and 10 different ways to deliver them. Multiply that by 10 brands. You're asking creative agencies to deliver over a hundred different ad executions...oh, and we need them in two weeks. Minus time for traffic and QA, minus time for client/legal approvals, so can you please deliver last Thursday? No wonder creative shops aren't begging for interactive video jobs.
3) Tracking/ad serving/reporting: All the wonderful things that third-party ad servers did to make traffic a simple process reporting aggregated and available at a moment's notice has been thrown out the door. We're now struggling to hand off creative and video units to multiple sites, hoping they match up correctly, praying that they are running in the right placements, and crossing our fingers that we'll get reporting once a month. Once we get these lengthy excel sheets of impressions (and sometimes clicks!) we manually aggregate and deliver our analysis to the clients as much as six weeks later. So much for on-the-go optimization.
While the Interactive Advertising Bureau, research companies and the industry as a whole are all working towards a solution for each of these challenges, it's important to acknowledge just how much time and effort it takes to pull off one of these campaigns. I'd encourage all of you to get involved with the groups that are currently working to generate solutions, and be vocal internally and with your media partners to make this a top priority. Let's put these issues to bed fast, because I'm already getting excited about the new things we will be doing to make streaming video that much more intensive--but also more effective.