About a decade ago a well-known radio personality said, "I don't see the point in going to the Web for seeing pictures. I have a TV that's got plenty of pictures on it."
Point well taken. For some reason, some people in control of formats recreate the old and call it new. That's where we are with online video. Pre-roll, post-roll, roll, in banner, out of banner, whatever. Each has its own latent ancestor. We haven't done much to show how video ads can be more than a brief, small, jaggy waste of time before or after viewing video content.
I'm not totally pessimistic, but most of what we see in video is still the 4:3 format ratio (define). Not what I'd call innovation in such an innovative medium as the Internet.
With all this very predictable use of video online, why do we bother? Why do we make the new in a familiar way? Of course we want people to use what we made easily, but does that apply to video advertising? Isn't advertising itself about being out of the norm? Isn't it about being noticed?
We can't expect that anything that uses a "pre" as a setup is a good thing for the user experience. So a pre-roll won't break TV or online advertising's negative stigma. In fact, it perpetuates it. Yes, video is a better performer than rich media advertising. But won't users who find a lot of the tactics for presenting online video so familiar one day ignore them like they do in the TV world?
Me thinks so.
When we look back to the reason the CRT was formatted the way it was, we realize the 4:3 format was derived from the technological limitations. In essence, then, the CRT is the grandfather of the 250 x 300 pixel banner. Kind of like a family of video formats, isn't it?
Once again the familiar is created from a nearly outdated format for the user's benefit. In the very near future, legacy formats will be somewhat irrelevant.
Video and interactive video projections will break the self-imposed format prison. Touchscreens and proximity screens will do away with the remote control and the mouse click. Processors will quadruple in speed and the idea of seeing a moving image will change forever. How we view everything, interactive or not, through or from a screen, will be amazing. In some cases, screens themselves may be irrelevant.
As much as we may collectively hate advertising, the format and its interactive nature may change our relationship with video or any moving image forever.
We have to start thinking outside the 4:3 box and embrace the new technologies that will make it all possible. Otherwise, video advertising will see a sharp decline, like a stock you forgot to sell after it peaked.
Marketers shouldn't be afraid of taking the unconventional-format leap. Somehow I don't think embracing something new is hard for people to do on the Internet.
Out with the old video, in with the new format.
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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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