Commentary

Consider Direct-Response Video

To date, online video has centered on the major brand advertisers and how to get these companies to move online and execute more campaigns. Most vendors are focused on building a video platform that is both attractive and effective for McDonald's, Coke, Visa and other like-minded advertisers. As a result, direct-response advertisers have been overlooked, as well as the opportunity for this category of advertisers to leverage online video. While many of these direct-response companies have been on the sidelines, I think with some ingenuity and education, video can become an effective vehicle for them as well.

The growth of interactive advertising can largely be attributed to the direct-response advertisers who have spent significant budgets over the years as brands were just beginning to come online in a meaningful way. So the question is, how do we get these marketers to continue to spend big online and be in a position to take advantage of emerging opportunities like video?

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To start, I think you need to look at the broadcast model. While prime-time television is a haven for leading brands, the overnight and early-morning hours are host to direct-response advertiser programming. Is a Web video played at 2 a.m. any more or less valuable than one played at 2 p.m.? Direct-response television is a big market, and one that has exploited these often less frequently viewed hours. Can the Web follow suit?

Infomercials are created via long form, ranging anywhere from five to 60 minutes. I personally do not know many people who sit through an entire program, but there is certainly an audience for this type of programming, otherwise the broadcast and cable outfits would not sell the time --especially those that sell on a performance basis.

So is there a market for this online? Will consumers watch long-form commercial content on the Web? Is there a way to motivate consumers by offering free content or something of value that in turn generates viewers? Many performance-marketing platforms have been built around giving away something for free, which ultimately isn't free because it requires a subscription to a credit score service or a magazine. The question becomes, can this formula be applied in a different format for online video?

General, pre-roll spots today will not work for direct marketers unless, of course, they are sold at significantly lower price points. Will that happen as video consumption dramatically increases? Perhaps, but it will depend on the outlet and its sellout rates. Will certain day parts become more valuable than others? With the Web, prime time is really midday, as decision makers and the difficult to reach at-work audience is tuning in, so I would not be surprised to see this shift.

The buzz behind video, while warranted, is still more perception than reality. One of the best ways to drive video forward quickly and profitably is to make the platform more available for many of the Web's leading advertisers who, as of today, are focused on direct response.

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