Prerolls Slammed, But No Alternative Offered

HOLLYWOOD, CA--Although the online video industry is relatively united on the idea that the 30-second preroll spot has no place on the Web, online video sites and online ad agencies have yet to join forces to create an innovative alternative, said panelists at the OMMA conference on Monday.

Bob Whitmore--CEO of NPower Digital Media, who served on the panel--said that advertisers should look at their place in online video as sponsors rather than advertisers. "I firmly believe that the 30-second pre-roll needs to go," he said.

Hunter Walk, business product manager of Google's YouTube, echoed Google's oft-stated maxim that the 30-second spot doesn't work for online video, but added there isn't an existing ad model that trumps it. "Ads, when relevant, interesting and targeted, can be valuable," he said. "The question is, has there been a video ad model that's fit that criteria? Nobody at scale has done an innovative, optimized ad model that fits neatly into all the different video models."

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Not everyone, however, was convinced.

Panelist Todd Herman, general manager of global media strategy for MSN Video, defended the 30-second ad spot. "We took a lot of heat about bringing the 30s or 15s over, but every bit of research we've done on MSN hasn't been that bad," he said. "Consumers say that ads on streaming video and ads on television are equally annoying." Consumers who don't mind prerolls perceive online video ads as shorter, Herman noted--even when they're not. They also say there's less ad clutter online.

Part of the reason the online video model has yet to develop, Herman believes, is resistance from agencies. He cited a campaign that MSN Video did with satirists JibJab Media, which allowed brands to integrate their products in comedy videos that would be distributed virally. Advertisers were uninterested in that opportunity, despite the exposure it would have provided.

"My dear friends in the agencies don't seem to be taking us up on these opportunities," he said. "I could hold up one sign for the number of brands that took it on."

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