Where Video Ad Creative Needs To Go In 2009

  • by January 6, 2009
While both advertisers and agencies alike are busy obsessing over the right model for playing beyond the banner in social networks like FaceBook, one has to wonder whether or not they've simply given up caring about video ad formats.  Last I clicked, they still seem to be content just running cutdowns of :30 TV commercials as awareness toppers to their already shrinking TV budgets.

Is this sheer laziness?  Is it genuine distraction, caused by anything labeled "social"? Or something we've all just become content to live with?

In this creative's view, 2009 has to be the year that ad-sponsored online video goes somewhere new.  We need to quit relying solely on the backend plumbers and technologists who just add more functionality to video windows -- and, instead, start focusing on the poetry part of the video business: new video narrative structures and applications that will help move the space forward.

Despite those who think we're in for a video slowdown along with every other form of digital media spend, there's still room for lots of innovation around video ad units before we all advise our clients that chasing friendships in social networks is the next Holy Grail. 

Here are three examples of using video differently, each of which, you can be sure, will make more of an impression than your average pre-roll:

1)      Video clips in email: Instead of the numerous links to video and posts to video links that appear everyday on your phone, in your email, on your Facebook page, etc., isn't about time we let consumers start editing their own favorite content clips and then actually EMBED THE CLIP into email rather than just sending a link?  Admittedly, HULU comes close by allowing consumers to edit their own clips and forward a link.  But think how much more powerfully you could make your point by punctuating it with say, a clip of Jack Nicholson's immortal line from "A Few Good Men": "'Are we clear?' I said, ‘ARE WE CLEAR?'"  Last time I checked, email was still far and away the most popular activity on the Web.  Just imagine if we figured out a way to start embedding video into email without it being blocked and concurrently found a way to charge per clip use. How much could we put email on steroids and content clips on ecommerce?


2)      Non-linear video: This one makes most creatives' heads spin.  The idea of using a pre-roll primarily to tease and then create different ending narratives based on consumer choice or pre-set business rules (as in Visible World's TV application) is something more akin to gaming narrative than commercial copywriting.  Maybe that's why so few creative agencies have had the courage to go down this multi-forked road.  Samsung's "Follow your Instinct" videos on YouTube begin to demonstrate the engagement possibilities of thinking this way.  We just need more agencies writing and shooting this way -- and the possibilities for advertisers just multiply.


3)     Video click-to-commerce:  OK, so this one has been around a while (also known as the "buy Jennifer Aniston's sweater" application), but has yielded mostly inelegant flash layer experiences developed by backend guys.   Instead, it's time we saw more seamless user-centric experiences developed by writers, designers AND developers.  With all the behind-the-scenes fashion- and retail-oriented video being posted these days, all it takes is a smart team of visual and information designers to come together (on what will most likely be a fashion or retail brand or publishing site) to bring us a more polite video click-to-commerce experience.  Once this tree falls in the forest, I would bet there will be lots of e-retailers who have been patiently waiting to hear the call and will join in.

These are just three of a variety of video ad unit innovations that this creative predicts will soon come to a publisher near you. 

Even while many advertisers and agencies seem to be obsessing about how to join the social networking craze, 2009 will likely become the year that necessity finally becomes the mother of invention across many digital platforms.  And one thing's for certain.  If this IS the year we finally see the video ad revolution, it definitely won't be televised -- at least until IPTV becomes much more robust. And that's not likely to happen this year, or maybe even the next.

More on that next month.  Until then, Happy Video New Year.

12 comments about "Where Video Ad Creative Needs To Go In 2009 ".
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  1. Mike Weber from CMR Studios, January 6, 2009 at 3:54 p.m.

    I think embedding video in email is a bad idea. Sure it may seem convenient, but the size of even a small video file multiplied over all the email being sent every second would choke the whole internet. A link takes up no space and the bandwidth is only used when a viewer clicks. Besides, the reason for marketing is to get the consumer in the front door. That click is opportunity knocking.

  2. Tyler Lecompte from, January 6, 2009 at 3:56 p.m.


    Nice post with some good points about "touchy" subjects for most agencies and marketing departments. I agree with you that everyone seems to be "socially blinded" by all the new applications and media choices, but think that there are some shining jewels in the mess that is Web 2.0. I also agree that this year is the year of online video advertising, with some great new video ad unit innovations launching, or having launched already.

    Can I ask your thoughts on the integration of user-generated content into video advertising units? If we were able to successfully engage the consumer directly to produce the video advertisements, as well as spread them through their social networks, through either links or direct video uploads what percentage of participation do you expect/predict?

    Thanks again for the post and Video New Year wishes. Best to all in 2009!

  3. Matt Kaplan from VisibleGains, January 6, 2009 at 4:33 p.m.


    Right on. This echos the results of PermissionTV's 2009 digital marketing survey which confirms the interest in turning online video from a passive, linear experience into a truly interactive, non-linear one. In fact 60% of the respondents believe interactive video experiences to be the next evolution for online video.

    You can download the full report here:

    Matt Kaplan
    Chief Strategy Officer, PermissionTV

  4. Ian Wolfman from imc2, January 6, 2009 at 4:44 p.m.

    Where CAN I buy Jennifer Anniston's sweater?! ; )

  5. Matt Wasserlauf from Specific Media, January 6, 2009 at 5:09 p.m.

    Alan, you are spot on! The pre-roll *must* become custom for the web and some level of work must go into it's creation.

    Here's to '09 becoming the year when the pre-roll became sexy...

  6. Jennifer Omeara from FLIMP Media, January 6, 2009 at 5:11 p.m.

    Without a doubt, 2009 is poised to be a breakthrough year for web video marketing.

    Web video email marketing is an effective tactic since video content can increases audience engagement. However, embedding a video directly into an email message is likely to cause the email to render poorly, or get blocked altogether. The fact is, the majority of email clients will block video from playing within an email, just like they block images. Undesirable video content could present a host of problems for major email clients.

    That being said, there are many effective ways to deliver web video content via email marketing campaigns. FLIMP ( users have found that email web video marketing is an effective way to reach and engage an audience.

  7. Roger Wu from Klickable.TV, January 6, 2009 at 7:20 p.m.

    I think that as consumers and audience begin to realize the differences between television and online video we'll begin to see #2 and #3 implemented. I'd love to get feedback on our application that has elements of #3 (

    Here's to a lean forward 2009!

  8. David Shor from Prove, January 7, 2009 at 12:21 a.m.

    With the advent of automated contextual media placements (ContextWeb, Lucid Media, GN, etc.), think in terms of the ad unit itself being a video next to text content. A sort of "Learn more about" where the video content will be mid-length content that tells a brand's story in context with similar information.


  9. Malcolm Rasala from Real Creatives Worldwide, January 7, 2009 at 1:27 a.m.

    Great article Alan. But check out Brand TV on where new longer video advertising forms are being realised.

    TVmyworld is 'TV and Web Married' (incl F2F search)
    1. 3000 Global TV Platforms (plus Brand TV)
    2, Face-To-Face Search (see Video Q&A's on Shop page)
    3. 11,500 Brand Platforms (eg Travel, Hotels, Sports, Cars
    Arts, Books and many others)
    All these enable longer form video messages from advertisers. Contact me:

  10. Bill Caspare from OggiFinogi, INC, January 7, 2009 at 10:16 a.m.

    Alan, you've touched on some interesting perspectives for 09, not sure about video email, as some said, too many opportunities for it to go bad. Distribution points for syndicating sponsored video will be a challenge as it related to a measurable return to brand clients. Scale to view will be a challenge for advertisers to wrap their heads around, and as we see the proliferation of video on the free sites like and more end user choices for their viewing preferences, it makes ROI accountability more difficult.

    I agree with smart interactivity touch points that begin with the agency as a process to bring consumers closer to the brand will be a new dynamic for marketeers as well as pushing the limits on new video ad formats.

  11. Craig Calder, January 7, 2009 at 10:21 a.m.

    Great point on non-linear video. The tools exist, the bandwidth is available and now agency creatives need to take the leap of faith and start building more relevant and engaging video ads.

    Consumers have clearly not embraced watching the same boring pre-roll and post-roll over and over.

    It's time online brands, advertisers and publishers abandon the outdated TV model of blasting out mass video messaging and give their customers a more personalized experience.

  12. Gerrie Smits from Left, Right & Centre / Pixelspew, January 13, 2009 at 10:11 a.m.

    I enjoyed that article, especially your 2nd point, which is something I've been thinking about for a while.

    With regards to your 3rd point: what are the feelings out there about simply embedding clickable url's in video ads and pre-rolls? People don't seem to do click on it naturally, but with the on-going merge of internet and moving image, it will no doubt become more obvious to click on 'films'.
    Imagine a pre-roll that drags the viewer away, from the content it wanted to see (and will certainly come back to), to your own website.
    I've done it before in Quicktime movies and can't imagine Flash movies not having that capacity.

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