Beyond The Pre-Roll?

I've written before in this column about the bewildering and ever-changing array of formats and options available to advertisers in and around the world of online video. This week saw an announcement from AOL about the launch of another format to add to the mix, but one which steps outside of the constraints of the pre-, mid- or post-roll conventions and beyond simple overlays.

What appeals to me about AOL's "Ticker" approach to an overlay-type ad is that it seems to be more mindful of the ability of such approaches to annoy users and also of the fact that an ad like this is likely to have whatever effect it is destined to have within 15 seconds. The full article on the announcement is here, but the description of how it works is below:

"AOL's video ticker ad appears at the bottom of the video player 10 seconds into the video stream. When clicked by a user, the ad expands while the video pauses. If the user does not interact with the ad, it will dissolve after 15 seconds leaving the branded text link. Clicking on the branded text link, located at the top of the video player, will re-launch the ticker."



It's a nice balance between the need to get in front of the viewer and the need not to piss them off. Offering a level of control over the extent of exposure through viewer-controlled interaction (without losing the program which is paused until the viewer returns) is a particularly nice touch that reflects the underlying expectation of control that comes with the medium -- all too often something that is overlooked when a traditional media, intrusion-based approach is taken toward a medium that is inherently involvement-based.

It will be interesting to see the results that AOL are able to report from this format over the next six months or so -- and also if others adopt the approach.

Ironically, it is not dissimilar from some of the experimental approaches that have been tried in the past in different interactive TV deployments here or in overseas markets. Come the digital switchover, this may well be the sort of thing we see more of on our TV screens, as the remote control acquires more functions and the battle against the DVR and other forms of ad avoidance continues.

One thing's for sure: We seem to be moving beyond the pre-roll a lot faster than we've managed to move beyond the 30-second spot.

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