Commentary

To Video Portal Or Video Platform? Consider The Context

  • by February 19, 2007
It was barely one year ago that an explosion of video service providers came streaming to the attention of advertisers. They had names like ROOTV, Brightcove, Maven, Tremor, Broadband Enterprise and the now infamous YouTube -- and your average interactive agency planner/buyer had enough trouble remembering, let alone recommending, which of these VC-backed darlings to get behind. Were they really selling a consumer destination? Or a video platform technology? Or both?

One year later, now that YouTube has emerged as the video portal/destination of choice for consumers, the question remains, are there real sustainable business models out there for additional UGC destinations -- or are you better off pursuing a video platform/distribution model or video ad serving solution? Or perhaps, all of the above? While VC continues to pour in, and players like Brightcove solidify their position as the video platform of choice for publishers and networks, one can't help but wonder if, like P2P social networks that fall in and out of favor with consumers, the daily "rubbernecking" on YouTube will give way to the next "Flavor of the Month" UGC video destination. Who cares?

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As Sumner Redstone once said in one of his more brilliant CTAM speeches, "people don't watch distribution... they watch what's ON the distribution." From a creative standpoint, I would argue that, just as mass has given rise to niche in every other medium, so too will the niche aggregators of video content, UGC or otherwise, find greater contextual relevance and more valuable connections in serving the "somes" than the "manys." What we as a creative community must do is start producing ads in the vernacular and context of these video destinations, be they UGC, niche, genre-based, whatever.

We have plenty of examples of UGADS (or should I say "eegads!") out there, from EepyBird's Coke/Mentos craziness to the latest round of Doritos and Chevy spots -- some-brand sanctioned, some not. The point is, we haven't begun to leverage the contextual possibilities of online video that exist if we just think about the "when" as much as the "where" we are being served.

What's a "where" example? If your brand's campaign idea is to own "real beauty" like Unilever's Dove campaign, then the contextual opportunities to reach women adjacent to or within "real" UGC-created videos becomes a contextual no-brainer. Assuming they're in the right age bracket, right? As is often said on the creative side of the house, you know you have a good idea when it writes itself.

Additionally, "when" contextual examples are even more fun from a creative standpoint. If your brand's campaign idea is to own the solution to "pain," like Tylenol's is, then there's lots of contextual opportunities to serve consumers online -- from finance video clips of painful times, like when the market closes down, to painful sports highlights (like in Chicago the morning after the Chicago Bears lost to the Colts).

The point is, while these aren't the most elegant examples of contextual creative, and I don't pretend to pose as a media planner, it's high time we started developing online video creative for the context, not just for the medium.

Particularly now that we've seen the impact that user-generated commercials -- shot for less than the cost of an expense report -- can create, our age-old creative arguments about production values and brand equity begin to hold less and less weight alongside our boondoggle shoots to Argentina, South Africa, pick your location.

The question is not which video service platform your creative is being served on; just make sure it runs like your engine: clean, smooth and measurable. Nor is it whether you're reaching all the rubberneckers in the daily UGC video food chain; they're perishable. while the brand you're advertising is apt to be around a lot longer.

Shoot for creative for the context. Not for the masses.

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