Recently I was lunching with a friend who is high up on the ladder at a Fortune 100. We started talking about the changing business of advertising. In the middle of telling him about producing and distributing branded original content across a network of sites online, he asked me a very simple question: "Why video content?"
Inauguration Day was a day of many milestones in U.S. history. From an interactive media perspective, it was a big day as well. Today's most-utilized tools either didn't exist during the last inauguration or were in their absolute infancy. Online video, the social Web and mobile applications took center stage this past Tuesday as millions worldwide accessed and shared the inauguration experience and information online.
If video killed the radio star, online video will surely kill the static Web. Video is poised to permeate the Web in a way that goes far beyond YouTube's user-generated clips. The Web's design and flexibility make it a powerful visual medium, with moving images, Flash and animation fast becoming the lingua franca. This presents corporate America -- and private enterprise in general -- with a huge opportunity.
As we begin 2009, the opportunity for major media and entertainment companies to make digital video into a profitable business effort has never been as promising, or important. Online consumption of top programming is expanding exponentially, digital video content management and media rights management (also known as DRM) are widely available and maturing, and CDN distribution costs for high quality and near-HD content are continually decreasing.
It's an early sign of category maturation: video ad platforms are beginning to add value to video ad inventory -- value that goes beyond campaign execution or price efficiencies. The recent improvements in targeting, pacing, delivery and optimization suggest a bit about where the video advertising category is headed and who will ultimately win the majority of video ad dollars in the future. Let's explore each category.
Interactive marketers are continually challenged to create engaging marketing campaigns that generate return on investment while maintaining consistency with offline efforts. With few notable exceptions these online efforts have yet to fully embrace video as a vehicle to achieve these goals. But, as the audience demand for online video continues to grow, it presents the best opportunity to engage with audiences and capitalize on the Web's direct-response capability.
The first week of 2009 brought some disappointing news to fans of the online video show "Wallstrip" when it was announced that parent CBS Interactive would be shutting production down. For those unfamiliar with "Wallstrip," it was a lighthearted, "pop culture meets stock culture" (as described by the site) video site that examined "hot" stocks and tried to provide a real-world explanation of why they were so hot. What makes this story significant for Video Insider readers is that "Wallstrip" was one of, if not the first, online video original-production success story.
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.
As a business traveler, I've witnessed a very interesting shift over the past two years. Business fliers, first to watch DVDs or videos on their laptops, are now watching movies and TV shows on their iPhones or iPod touch -- while laptop playback is on the decline. Now, this certainly isn't a scientific study, but given how much I fly, it tells me that the ubiquity and ease of use of a mobile device will put more mobile media in the hands of more people faster than anything else thus far.