Commentary

Online Video: It's Not Your Father's TV

If you are like me, you were probably amazed at the seemingly endless analyses of the Google purchase of YouTube. Speculation on the rationale runs the gamut--from monetizing each and every view of an estimated 100 million daily YouTube video views, to Google using the site to test reaction to video ads before they are moved (by Google, some say) to a broadcast or cable network. Whatever turns out to be correct, I am sure Google will help online video get that much closer to competing for the $60+ billion spend on TV video advertising.

One of the challenges many writers and perhaps advertisers face when thinking about 100 million YouTube views a day, is that the thought conjures up images of frustrated consumers (who are used to seeing commercial-free video) frying as they watch repurposed TV commercials over and over and sample the latest, greatest CGM uploads.

One thing I've learned from my experience in the field is that variety is the spice of life. I am a great believer in frequency capping so that users don't have to keep seeing the same video ads over and over again, and I am a strong proponent of using a multiplicity of rich media tools to 1) offer user something they will never get from the TV screen, 2) engage them with the ad for the longest possible time and 3) reward them with cool, unexpected features that make them want to view the video again or send it to their friends because it is, well, so cool.

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There can be little or no comparison between the flat 30-second TV spot and a rich-media-enhanced online spot that offers users the opportunity to interact with the brand. You can append online video with everything from games, music and poster or wallpaper downloads to mash-ups, contests, hot links and even dynamically delivered information such as movie start times in the user's local neighborhood. Many of those components can be delivered without any user activity, with expandable ad units that now include video banners.

Research has shown that the more interactive elements in each video ad unit, the longer the consumer engages with it and the longer the exposure to the brand message. If you don't think this is incredibly important, ask yourself why broadcasters are falling over themselves to enable users to interact with ads using their remotes.

I am excited that nearly every major Web site now has lots of video content that can be monetized with video ads (it wasn't so long ago there wasn't nearly enough inventory). But I am more excited that users will see ads that are not only relevant, but interesting and entertaining--and for advertisers, accountable. Context, accountability and two-way interaction are what make the Web, not your father's TV.

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