Commentary

Standards and Best Practices for Online Video

Last week I wrote about some ideas and initiatives that I felt our industry needs to take in order to integrate video into the mix in a way that will make it effective for advertisers while not overloading the consumer. I received some great feedback and decided that this week we would start to discuss some of the important standards and best practices in order to get the process moving along.

The most important element that we need to consider first is that video can be more intrusive than other forms of advertising (which is saying a lot considering what we see daily in the interactive world). Video can also be much more engaging than other forms of advertising, so there must be a balance between these two elements. There are many technologies that integrate video in a standard ad unit, and Flash 6 can do it just as easily, but we should recognize that a video placement should be limited on a page. My first recommendation is...

A) Video Units Be Confined To One Placement Per Page

  • This would have the effect of a picture-in-picture placement if utilized correctly, but more than one video placement on a page would look just like Times Square.
  • Too much video and the user will tune it out. Video is engaging and conveys emotion better than any other format, so don't dilute its effectiveness by distracting the user.

    B) Video Units Benefit From Larger Ad Sizes

  • This plays into the hands of the emotional aspect of video. A slightly larger ad unit is more effective as the picture is clearer and easier to understand.
  • It stands out more on the page and attracts the eye of the user, but be careful not to be so intrusive as to cover up content unless there is a user-initiated action. As much as we love the use of over-the-page ads, the use of video is strong enough and does not need to necessarily come out of the parameters of the ad space unless it is asked to do so by the user.

    C) Limit The Initial Run to :15 Or Less

  • This is a personal opinion, but since the audience has a 3-second attention span, an elongated experience that the user did not initiate may have a more detrimental effect than desired. If the user initiates an action, then by all means an extended run is acceptable.
  • Be conscious of sound. Enough said.

    D) The Integration Of Flash and Video Can Have Extremely Effective Results

  • Some of the best ad units that incorporate video have done so with Flash elements layered on top or immediately afterwards, providing the user with the opportunity to interact. One peril of video will be the temptation for agencies to just repurpose a commercial online. This is not effective nor does it take into account the interactivity of the web. This is not a passive medium, so don't treat it as one. This brings me to my last point...

    E) TV Commercials Do Not Necessarily Make Great Online Ads

  • TV Commercials are a great place to start, but they are not the outcome. A TV commercial should evolve into something more for the web, something that is interactive in nature. This might be a bit of a process, but its one that will pay great dividends. I recommend the utilization of an interactive agency that is experienced in this field, as they are the ones best able to make the conversion for you.

    This is not a full list; it is simply a start. I would love to hear what other recommendations you may have for standards and best practices, so respond and let us know.

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