Unicast Enhances Video Commercial, Debuts New Version

  • by May 16, 2004
Unicast today debuts an upgrade to its Video Commercial that offers what it refers to as "companion interactivity." The enhancement to the new format allows advertisers to offer an array of actions--including sampling and sweepstakes offers--all without having to leave the ad unit.

For example, a Unicast demo showed a mock-up of a Video Commercial for AstraZeneca's Nexium. At the end of the ad, an interactive panel appeared on the right-hand margin that offered several options for users to click on--including one to obtain more information about the drug--and an option for completing a coupon to receive a sample of the drug. The interactive elements can be built into the Video Commercial both during and after the ad.

The new version offers consumers the ability to choose how they want to interact with, or experience, ads. The debut version emphasized the ability of advertisers to use re-purposed video assets with the option of adding an interactive component at the end of the spot. Unicast launched the Video Commercial format in January with several advertisers and publishers. The 15- to 30-second, 2MB Video Commercial plays broadcast-quality video at a rate of 30 frames per second. The ad is pre-cached.

"To combine broadcast-quality video with interactivity in a vehicle that's relevant and powerful ... this is the future," says Eric Wheeler, senior partner, executive director, WPP Group's OgilvyInteractive North America, New York. While Ogilvy clients aren't using the Video Commercial yet, Wheeler thinks the upgrade will spur interest among them: "It's what we've been trying to do for a very long time."

Until now, Wheeler notes that creatives have tagged in, or added on, direct response vehicles and coupons onto existing TV creative. "Now, the neat thing is that while people are watching and viewing a branded broadcast-quality experience interactively, they're controlling what they're seeing. It's a much more powerful user-initiated and user-controlled experience," Wheeler says, adding: "It's the cross hairs of broadcast, interactivity, and creativity."

"It's like interactive television coming online, [even] before it's available on television," says Allie Savarino, senior vice president, Unicast. "Any creative director, advertiser or agency can choose whether they'd like the video to be the primary focus."

AQuantive's Avenue A has used the Unicast Video Commercial for a Verizon DSL campaign. The agency is currently in discussions with Starwood Hotels and AstraZeneca about the latest version.

"It's an easy conversation to have when you're talking about high-quality streaming video," says Kevin Howard, director of media, Avenue A, New York. "The interactivity really intrigues [clients]."

At the same time, Howard notes that reach and frequency are an issue, as are the play ratio and publisher acceptance. "Right now, play ratio is the biggest issue. [The Video Commercial] is taking longer to cache and longer to download; the play ratio is not as good as it was with the Unicast Full Page or Superstitial. So when we're talking about competing with offline dollars, this is a big discussion," Howard says, adding that how to price the unit is also a question.

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