A Study in Video: Three Online Ads

Unicast started me on this video kick a few months ago, so it’s only appropriate I wrap up this series on online video by examining some examples of what’s been done in its various formats.

Unicast’s new video commercial format has been covered widely since the beta test was announced earlier this year. The company recently released a second set of results from a Dynamic Logic study conducted during the beta. Overall results are impressive.

You’re probably tired of hearing this from me, but it’s worth repeating: Video works best online when some sort of relevant interactivity can be added to it.

To date, none of the Unicast Video Commercial demos have done that very well (most don’t do it at all). But the capability is there. So the examples below are all Superstitials rather than the new format. They’re built using Flash video, which actually affords a bit more room for interactivity within the video itself.

Note: Superstitials load entirely in the background and only appear when they’re fully ready to play. Consumers don’t experience any load time, even on dial-up connections.

GMC Sierra

This is an online translation of an existing TV spot with a few interactive elements. At the bottom of the screen are links for a special offer, a dealer locator, and a virtual tour, as well as an email registration field for more information. Staggering the video in three frames is interesting but a bit confusing and jagged. Perhaps the original spot wasn’t shot with this sort of execution in mind. If so, it’s a great example of how difficult retrofitting a TV spot can be. Done somewhat differently, multiple frames would be an interesting way to take advantage of additional space to tell the story.

If you click on a link, a second screen appears, encouraging further interaction. A button returns you to the TV spot. Let the ad finish playing, and you’ll wind up on that second screen. There’s a replay button instead of a return one. I love these little details. From a usability perspective, they’re intuitive yet are often overlooked.

Lincoln Navigator

This is a clever use of short video segments that highlight key features of Lincoln’s SUV (view ad). The ad cycles through each video, then offers the opportunity to view each segment again. It’s straightforward and well done. The simplicity is refreshing, but more information could be packed in the ad without destroying that simplicity. Car shoppers are generally extremely hungry for information: third-party research, reviews, specs, features, options, everything. The more options you provide, the better.

Renault Clio Yahoo

This ad is a little silly and can be choppy at times, but I’ve included it because it’s the only example of its kind I’ve seen (view ad). Let the video roll for a few seconds, then mouse over the car. The spokesperson actually reacts to the mouse movement, then returns to his speech. The video doesn’t always sync with the audio, but it’s a fun demonstration of Flash video’s interactive power.

It’s a coincidence that the three ads I chose are from the automotive industry. The auto industry is well ahead of the overall average of rich media usage, so perhaps it’s natural auto marketers would be at the front of this pack. Clearly, this sort of solution is a natural fit for the product. Combining rich information and flexibility with the emotive power of video makes a lot of sense for the category.

This is supposed to be “the year of video.” I’m actually starting to believe it. Let’s be smart about it.

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