Commentary

An Idea, While We Wait

How quickly things can change. In November '08, eMarketer estimated that online video advertising would grow close to 45% in 2009. But before we start running through the office hallways yelling "All hail 2009 -- the year of online video," we might want to take a realistic look at the potential barriers to growth the current economy might have on online video (insert "Wah-Wah" here).

No surprise to anyone in the industry that advertisers have been "hesitant" with budgets heading into the new year. Although some advertisers will move budgets online as they wait for the economic outlook to improve, a higher percentage of these dollars are likely to be allocated to tactics more proven in driving key metrics and ROI, like performance-based activity. Unfortunately for the online video space, the lack of clear, standard metrics was a barrier to growth even before the economy went south. It's obviously not all doom and gloom but, as an industry, we shouldn't wait around until the dust settles. I say we start measuring the heck out of this thing. Do it now and be ready for the economic turnaround -- when it's likely that many companies will want to play "catch-up."

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What is needed now, is the cooperation and understanding of all parties to come to one goal: get smarter. Now is as good a time as any for publishers, agencies, and clients to come together to help answer everyday questions about the space. As I've preached in previous articles, the definition of "getting smarter" is unique to each advertiser. Here are just a few questions we can answer now, while we wait:

  • Impact of cross-platform sponsorship. So you're lucky enough to be in a position where you have significant presence in America's Best Dance Crew, across multiple platforms -- TV, online and mobile. But do you really know the full impact of being on all platforms? How is the increase in message frequency against users consuming more than one platform affecting your key metrics? What is the optimal frequency across all platforms to drive the best results (in my mind, the ultimate question). Or is the true benefit the increase in reach against users watching the show online, instead of TV?

  • Maximize effectiveness by focusing your dollars. There are so many video options for advertisers. Sometimes we feel like we have to play in multiple areas of the space. But maybe we can use this time to start getting focused and figure out what's most successful for us. Depending on your objectives, you can look at click-based metrics, online actions (sales, registrations, etc.), or third-party awareness studies, to uncover learnings:

    Low-quality vs. high-quality (UGC vs. professionally-produced) -- Is it even worth the premium to have your brand immersed in high-quality video?

    Short-form vs. long-form -- Many seem to believe that the most growth in the space will be driven by long-form content.

    Pre-roll vs. overlay -- Sure, overlays are less intrusive to the consumer, but are they as effective in driving results?

  • Cost analysis of developing unique online creative. We acknowledge that video creative unique to the Web can drive better results than repurposed TV spots, but sometimes you just have a good commercial that consumers enjoy. In this case, is developing a unique piece of video content necessary? Are the end results significant enough to "pay for" the production costs?

    Of course these answers are most useful when, as an industry, we can share the learnings. Despite some of the barriers to sharing information, like a client's desire for anonymity, there are ways to continue to educate and communicate the greater benefits of being active in the online video space. Relying purely on the fact that consumer usage of online video is booming as a reason to expect video advertising budgets to increase is a mistake. After all, shouldn't we online folks already have learned this lesson?



  • 3 comments about "An Idea, While We Wait".
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    1. Colin Donald from Futurescape, February 3, 2009 at 11:56 a.m.

      Joe,

      When you're looking at a global medium from the point of view of international clients and agencies - such as your own MEC Interaction - it's worth bearing in mind that there is plenty going on outside the USA that can be highly informative.

      In the UK, where Futurescape is based, international agencies, producers and media owners are together pioneering a whole new range of interactive Web shows that successfully incorporate sponsor and product integration opportunities.

    2. Bill Caspare from OggiFinogi, INC, February 3, 2009 at 3:48 p.m.

      Joe, it's hard to read the tea-leaves to answer the questions you pose. Your question about short from vs long form is one I believe the ultimate winner will be long. Now, long doesn't nessitate 5, 10 or 15 minutes long but for the advertiser to have a venue to get their message across with video content longer than a 30 second re-purposed TV spot should be appealing to the agency creative gurus. We're beginning to see some tell tale signs in video content production with brands inserting themselves into the story line and or branding around the story. The key analysis in the end will be scale to ROI and brand advancement metics.

    3. Brian Stemmler from Stemmler Productions, February 4, 2009 at 3 p.m.

      It's an interesting conversation and sometimes maddening. Partly because there are so many more variables that have been thrown into the mix so quickly, it's nearly impossible to create a campaign strategy that can span all platforms. Personally I think short form will be king at least for now. To keep people's attention as they multitask video online must remain short and have some sort of "lean forward" draw. As for advertisers and agencies the best solution now is to take the same ad budget and split it three or four ways to service multiple platforms and content creation. Think of it like a DVD box set with tons of extras.

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