21st Century Cave Paintings

Cave Paintings. 19th Century Newsies. Massive highway billboards. What do these things share in common? In their own time, they were the most advanced and sophisticated way to advertise a company's message. Write it down, shout it out, and slap it up -- whatever it took to reach the Average Joe as he went about his life with his car keys in one pocket and some loose change in the other. But today's times call for today's methods, and that means Web video.

Back in 1999, I started in the Internet advertising industry with the launch of my video ad company Klipmart (now part of DoubleClick). Since then, I have seen firsthand the evolution of Web video, one pixel at a time. While postage-sized 120x90s were fine some years ago, they've since given way to more sophisticated banner executions that include live steaming and hotspotting. And, in turn, that progress will very soon give way to what I believe will turn out to be the newest trend in Web-based advertising, something I call "video beyond the banner."

Today's consumers are both educated and empowered. They know that they literally have millions of choices and can flick on, off, up or down in the blink of an eye. If they're going to stay with something, or to invest part of their already overscheduled lives by viewing something, it had better engage. And that means "video beyond the banner," or more specifically, brand relevant Webisodic TV with original and creative programming elements. Not warmed-up leftovers from a press junket or bland behind-the-scenes footage, but professionally produced material that brings the viewer additional entertainment with additional information resulting in an additional experience. It's addition by way of creation.

This next-step in brand immersion builds off various inspirations, including imbedded product placement in traditional media that is used in a creative fashion. Think of when Jack Bauer from "24" uses his Verizon phone to text CTU Headquarters. He gets to call in for backup while the viewer catches a glimpse of the newest Verizon product and logo. As well, more extensive, original and interactive DVD special features allows the viewer to experience more than just the movie itself and immerses them in an extensive world of storyboard art, deleted scenes and hidden Easter eggs. Original Webisodic programming does all of this and more. It allows the brand and the user to take the journey together, with the tacit understanding being that more entertainment, not just advertising, lies right around the corner. It's an extension of the source mother ship, taking the world of the original feature film, edgy television show or much ballyhooed novel and going even further with characters, situations, humor, drama, you name it. It's engaging consumers in the value of new ideas and additional creativity without making them feel like they're being sold something.

So get out your palette. It's time to do some 21st Century cave painting.

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