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Old-Mind Advertising

  |  September 14, 2007   |  Comments

How can video advertising evolve past the ham-fisted advertising tactics of old?

It's another day on the Internet and yet another form of ad monetization has reared its ugly head.

You Tube recently launched its InVideo advertising solution to a resounding dull clang of dissatisfaction from the exuberant masses who consume hours of content on the beloved Web site.

It's not hard to see why. And in the interests of full disclosure, I do work in online advertising, yet I think it's really kind of hard to love this solution.

Don't get me wrong. For some, loving advertising is like loving tax preparation. YouTube's solution isn't easy to understand in the context of how it's used with content. The relative context of application, if you will.

Specifically, hearing a lo-fi video defense of a pop star is bad enough, but when it's shrouded with a slick transition to the ad message, it all seems a brash and out-of-place marriage of elements.

This blight-on-blight online advertising solution is only the most recent. There have been many others before, and rest assured there will be more in the future.

It makes me wonder why we keep coming up with the same solutions to monetize this relatively new medium. Can't we get a little more creative? Or are we destined to a downward spiral of repeating the same advertising model on everything we do?

Make the logo bigger. Stick a special offer in at the end. Repeat. Yes, these forms of advertising are familiar, like a comfy old chair, but old and comfy can get stinky after a while.

In their book, "New World New Mind," Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich point out, "Human judgment and humanity's ability to deal with the consequences of its creations lags behind its ability to create."

Bad times at any company's online solutions division lie ahead.

We constantly trying to innovate, yet we don't slow down our minds (or our development cycles) to really contemplate the impact of our work. It's a truly vicious circle.

We develop measurement criteria in the same way. Often, these two crimes combine to provide poor ad solutions and mishandled performance valuations.

In a competitive industry, yes, time is money. But ignorance wastes time, money, and a user's interest in your brand. I'd say the last is much more costly.

Damning as that may sound, it's been true for quite a while. Did anybody ever think the floating rich media ad would dominate the online advertising industry forever?

For that matter, the lovely and controversial You-Tubian solution for integrating advertising into its spectacle of video content shares the same future.

Lest we forget, the practice of inserting :15 spots before and after video content that floods the news became the new hair extension for a thinning and expensive media market. Truly, to think an online spot can be included in overall television rating points (TRPs), regardless of screen size and format, is unfathomable.

But as bad as it sounds, there's hope for an industry known for interrupting viewers' valuable time (and being the spawn of Satan).

There are ways in which we can rethink this whole ad thing. First, we must ask ourselves a few questions: Why must an ad follow a traditional story arc? Why do we need to assume users must understand everything they see? Why do we need comedy to make a viewer remember an ad? Why can't the user have several available options and interactions?

For the disbelievers who think we've done a great job making all this online ad stuff and everything is just fine, perhaps you need a little mental checkup.

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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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