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Taking Online Video by the Tail

  |  September 16, 2005   |  Comments

Grab online video's "long tail" to increase brand awareness.

It's been reported MTV's broadband video channel, Overdrive, has had over 11 million downloads of Video Music Awards (VMAs) content in the past weeks. It also been reported TV viewership was disappointing but the surge in Internet downloads were beyond expectations.

This rise in content consumption by a young, highly tech enabled audience isn't surprising. Yet it reveals some interesting things about content and how it will be consumed as we evolve the online medium.

This example demonstrates video's long tail. This behavioral pattern of going online before or after watching TV foretells a shift in how rich content will be increasingly understood and accessed by the online audience. But what does it mean for online advertisers who want to utilize rich media advertising?

A lot.

Any major brand can sponsor a content area and get a product attribute in front of a lot of eyeballs, but there's more to it than that. What about the brand living in the content itself or the brand experience being the gateway to a viewing enhancement? Advertisers can do scores of things to ensure their brands are not only seen but interacted with positively.

The MTV example also demonstrates that exclusive content can be an earned privilege rather than an entitlement. Sure, VMA content is available to everyone, but only until September 28. New, exclusive content people must be in the know about is a powerful way to create a greater effect on the audience.

User manipulation is also key in leveraging a brand into the online experience. With the VMAs, users can compose their own highlight clip sequences and share them with friends. Somehow, being a solitary kid with a little imagination, a colored pencil set, and a stack of lined paper seems like ancient history.

These few examples of how a brand can intersect with a positive online experience are just the beginning. Incorporating the "rich" in rich media advertising doesn't only mean video or Flash banners. As technology and user trends change, so can the marketer. As the technology advances, so can the experience.

But you can't just throw out all your online ad banners and replace them with video content. Or can you? It's not black and white... it's more Technicolor than anything else.

These trends point to a change in advertising. Understanding how advertising is valued or tolerated can guide you to create an effective Flash banner, video spot, or other ad type.

In the end, validated user trends, such as the spike in MTV's online usage, connotes more of an evolution than a revolution. Could this behavior be a new marketing trend? Not really. It's exciting, but it's only one dimension of the online experience. Users don't get online, view video, and log off. Do you wake up in the morning, back up your hard drive, and go back to bed?

Whether you sell an item or a brand, remember this simple rule: The online audience gets excited by things they're interested in, and many times it has nothing to do with what you're selling or telling. Online user interaction sometimes allows the audience to vote on your product or brand before there's even an election.

Online is a powerful, dangerous medium for advertisers. How you appear on a search listing is just as important to your brand as a video spot is. Making the wise choice about user trends comes down to relevantly integrating your message into users' interests, not the other way around.

Online video offers a long tail. But you have to grab it just right, or it will swing around and hit you.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dorian Sweet

Dorian Sweet is the vice president and executive creative director of GSI Interactive who leads strategic development and innovation in online advertising, Web development, e-commerce, and customer relationship management programs. His work has brought award-winning online solutions to such clients as Clorox, Miller Brewing Company, GE, Visa, eBay, British Airways, Wells Fargo, Discovery Networks, Motorola, Kodak, Sears, 20th Century Fox, and others.

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