Rereading my recent columns, I realize I may have gotten ahead of myself. Don't worry I'll have plenty to say about the changing video marketplace in future columns. But it's Memorial Day as I write this and you won't be reading this until July. Given the focus on digital media as part of this year's broadcast and cable upfronts, I wanted to spend time on the block and tackle, as opposed to the vision stuff.
If you're a client-side marketer, ask your agency partners to educate you on some of these issues. If you're an agency-side media planner/buyer, make sure you have a strategy for dealing with a host of evolving implementation challenges. And if you're a programmer or technology solutions provider, make sure these realities are factored into your offerings before you go to market.
>>Know what's being asked for/offered. I hate to make it sound this simple, but we aren't living in a linear world anymore. In an impression-based economy (not unit-based, like TV), how inventory gets aggregated, sold, and bought is much more complex.
Sellers: Package inventory in ways that differentiate and protect your brand's value proposition. When you leverage network-based solutions (see my April column for more on this), do it in a way that achieves a win-win for you, the consumer, and the advertiser, rather than simply providing an arbitrage opportunity for middlemen.
Clients and agency folks (especially traditional TV buyers who are new to digital media): Recognize that there is a decade-long history of avails-based "inventory trading" in the performance banner space. It will spread to video, and it will make buying non-property-centric video platforms both easy (in terms of implementation) and complex (in terms of knowing what you really bought and from whom). Make sure you understand this evolving space before you commit dollars.
>>Understand the differences in delivery. To the traditional client or media seller/buyer, encoding rates and delivery formats are not typical negotiation and discussion points. But here's the dirty secret: The bit rate at which video is distributed, and the format in which it is provided, actually drives the variable cost of a streaming distribution platform (i.e., one-to-one).
Everyone in this space needs to pay attention to video stream quality. If you're selling or buying Web video that runs at a sub-300k bit rate via progressive download (instead of a true streaming technology), know that the quality will be low at a maximized screen size, and that the user won't have complete fast-forward controls. And if you're considering leveraging a Flash-based environment, make sure you rationalize the added interactivity and resulting higher bandwidth costs associated with it.
If you don't understand anything in the previous paragraph, educate yourself and quickly. (I haven't even mentioned downloadable content, which spurs another layer of complexity.)
Bottom line, if you're building or evaluating video plans strictly on cost-per-thousand metrics big mistake. There are many other attributes to be factored into the opportunity along with a valuation analysis.
>>Think through creative and user experience. I continue to be amazed by the lack of attention being paid to value-added communications planning at the expense of media execution. The new order is about the melding of media planning and messaging in real time.
Viewers expect marketers and programmers to leverage the dynamics of the digital world. And they will welcome those that do into their lives. The implication: Learn how to deliver a variety of constantly evolving, relevant messages in an addressable way.
>>Develop a measurement/success criteria checklist. Start building new models for advertising evaluation that recognize that consumers are in control. The new order will be about "delivering" invitations to large numbers of consumers and "engaging" far smaller groups with long-form experiences. Clients, agencies, and programmers/tech providers need to build the foundation for that new reality and collectively move away from the exposure-driven world of media economics.
It may seem straightforward. But in the rush to be first and make news, we often forget about what drives value in our media ecosystem. Ultimately, we must strike a balance between leading and being accountable.
Adam Gerber is vice president, ad products and strategy at Brightcove, an Internet TV service. (firstname.lastname@example.org)