Video Vertigo

So video has been all the hype for a while now. Quite frankly, I'm getting a tad sick of it. Don't get me wrong -- I have been a proponent for years. Designing for a pixilated world sucks. Video is sexy. For folks like me that came from the traditional side, it's the closest thing to broadcast we've had.

I was also one of the oldies who couldn't wait till the day broadband would become mainstream. It feels like ages, but it wasn't -- just a few years ago. Now 70% of those who use the Internet have broadband. This has been the catalyst of online video usage.

According to a recent report by Pew Internet & American Life Project, 57% of Internet users have watched videos online and most of them share what they find with others -- 19% do so in a typical day. Three-quarters of broadband users (74%) who enjoy high-speed connections at both home and work watch or download video online.



Pew also released its first major report on online video that shows how many video viewers have contributed to the viral and social nature of online video. More than half of online video viewers (57%) share links to the video they find with others, and three in four say they receive links to watch video that others have sent to them.

Video viewers who actively exploit the participatory features of online video by rating content, posting feedback or uploading video, make up the motivated minority of the online video audience. Young adults are the most active participants in this realm.

Okay, so these are all cool numbers with a positive outlook for not only the present but the future. Yet I have to say, I'm not so sure. Right now most online is fun and entertaining. It's definitely viral. Most that come to mind were sent to me by a friend or colleague. However, there's got to be a point in time when the current state of video gets boring, typical, run-of-the-mill. A lot of these sites have nothing more than video. The content is lax, to say the least.

Online publishers, marketers and advertisers need a wake-up call to make sure they find a balance between entertainment and advertising. I don't know, maybe it's me; I just don't see how putting your brand's ad next to a two-minute clip of a laughing baby or a bunch of guys doing ridiculous stunts is healthy for the brand.

Much of my days and nights work-wise are centric to protecting brands online. If I were to suggest that a client put his ad in such a place, I'd not only be a hypocrite, but I'd be looking for a fast career change.

I've begun to pay close attention to marketers and advertisers that are developing ads in the form of video. Some of the smart ones are making the video/creative more engaging and entertaining.

Some of these video sites have impressive yet staggering impression counts. The site claims that its clips have been viewed 63 million times. Online video portals are popping up all over the place. More are rumored to launch. I'll go out on a limb and say these will be sheer hype and not a place to engage a customer or prospect. The content of the videos is much like the Wild West, too. You have no control over what can be seen. Just spend a minute on YouTube and take a look around. I'm not the most PC, and even I think a lot of the content is ridiculously ignorant.

The bottom line is, great ads will always work -- we shouldn't get so pigeonholed into a format. Not that you should retrofit your TV ad into this video thingie. Isn't it supposed to be great creative that builds, reinforces and amplifies the brand?

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