Increasing advertiser demand for online video ads has agencies looking for storytellers with the right mix of online and offline skills.
With more advertisers looking to enhance their online ads and Web sites with video, more agencies are looking both inside and out to find talent to bridge the gap between offline video and online rich media.
Online video is growing dramatically, with increased broadband penetration creating a larger audience, leading more advertisers to consider adding video to their online efforts. Jupiter Research expects that after reaching $121 million in 2004, online video advertising will hit $657 million in 2009. Rich media technology provider PointRoll recently reported that it has served over eight times more video ads in the first half of this year than during all of 2004.
The trick for agencies is finding creative people with both offline video and online media production experience, who also have the necessary skills to tell a story. Those skills are hard to find in any medium, which can make finding a candidate with the full set of skills for online video even more difficult.
"The challenge with finding the right people is on a conceptual level," Troy Young, VP of interactive strategy at Omnicom's Organic, told ClickZ News. "This is really hard stuff, creating content that people want to share. The goal is to find storytellers that understand the medium."
"It's not that hard to find people that can edit a clip. But even in television, it's hard to find someone who can tell a good story," added Christian Haas, group director of online advertising at Organic. Haas started his creative career in commercial film production specializing in film editing and post-production.
In Organic's case, technical skills are secondary to storytelling talent. As a small consultancy, Organic had tended to use internal staff to come up with the concepts and manage the creative direction, while outsourcing to a director to produce. The recent addition of two creative veterans to Organic's Toronto office has shifted the balance of video production work in-house.
Since their hire this Spring, Group Creative Director Dave Sylvestre, formerly the creative director of Unplugged Studio in Toronto and UnpluggedTV.com, and Dave Stubbs, Organic's creative director for online media, have taken over most of Organic's video production work, much of that coming from two large entertainment clients, a large financial institution, and automaker Dodge.
"In the past twelve months, our clients have been more willing to engage in -- and more willing to put money into -- online video," Young said.
In the case of Interpublic's R/GA, flexibility in working with talent is key. This could mean developing teams assembled from in-house creative, building collaborative teams across agencies, or outsourcing to specialists, said Kris Kiger, executive CD at R/GA.
Kiger said that her preference is to keep production in-house when possible. To this end, R/GA has recently sought out more people with dedicated video skills.
"If we outsource, it’s generally due to a need for specialized skills. Producing in-house gives us more creative flexibility to use the videos for different purposes and in different formats, while minimizing costs," she said.
When it comes to hiring creatives with a video or interactive background, Kiger also puts a premium on storytelling talent. "An understanding of both is preferable, and great storytelling can come from either traditional or interactive. As the mediums converge, it will be important to have a view and comprehensive understanding of both," Kiger said.
R/GA compensates for any individual shortcoming in technical know-how by creating teams with complementary skills, ensuring that someone with strong editing skills and a filmmaking background is matched up with a designer with a strong background in motion.
Omnicom's Atmosphere BBDO has found that it has the right individuals with storytelling skills in-house, many with television advertising backgrounds. Where it has been staffing up is on the technical side, hiring "a handful" of Web video production specialists, according to Jeff Brooks, managing director of Atmosphere BBDO.
"Most of our creatives come from that kind of background and they understand creating compelling video. But how it's loaded, how it's optimized -- those things are production issues," Brooks said.
Rich media technology providers are stepping up to fill in the production niche as well. Companies like PointRoll and EyeWonder are proactively offering production services to advertisers and agencies. Nearly a quarter of EyeWonder's agency clients have taken them up on the offer, according to Mike Griffin, VP of business development.
"A lot of traditional offline agencies have always outsourced the production, the cinematography of the shoot. It's not that different with online," Griffin said. "You'll have the creative director with a vision, and they'll translate that vision to a freelance video expert."
Griffin said that nearly 80 percent of video ads EyeWonder sees are made by reusing television ads, surrounding them with interactive features. Another 15 percent takes existing video content and edits it to fit online. Only 5 percent of online video ads are created entirely for the Web. The trend is shifting, as more advertisers begin to realize the power of video ads, he said.
"More and more, online people are starting to realize they're standing on a beach, and there's a wave coming," Griffin said. "They can either stand there on the beach and be crushed, or get a surfboard and learn to ride."
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