About Unveils New Video Ad Units and Player

About.com is making a bigger commitment to original video content and is offering new video ad formats through its new video player, developed by online video firm Brightcove. As video ad inventory demand increases, the new player gives About.com the ability to produce its own video content as well as to offer advertisers video ads with interactive components.

The new player will allow About.com to “significantly increase” the number of advice and how-to videos produced by its expert guides, according to About.com president and CEO Scott Meyer. Noting the system’s robust publishing platform, Meyer added, “‘This technology needs to scale to 500 or more guides all over the world.”

The publisher aims to produce at least 500 original video clips by the end of the year, featuring its current guides as well as “experts” with more television experience. About.com currently offers 56 of its own video clips and partners with Web video distribution company GoFish to provide thousands more videos. Video on the site is offered in the Style, Home and Garden, Gadgets and Health channels.

In addition to standard pre-roll video ads, About.com now provides new ad formats integrated with the video player including expandable billboards and a full player takeover unit that plays over the full player and allows for interactive components like games. The site is also introducing an interactive overlay format that initiates with a short pre-roll ad and lands above the video window, promoting advertisers while video content is streaming.

John Deere is running ads in About.com’s video content and, according to Meyer, the lawn mower maker will use the new ad formats. Other advertisers that have run video spots in video segments include GE, Verizon and Honda. In the future, About.com plans to add program breaks featuring live read-style promotional announcements by the firm’s guides and experts.

Video ad inventory is “tight right now,” explained Meyer, who believes, “the industry is still evolving the right pricing model.” He anticipates Web video publishers and advertisers will develop more appropriate pricing “especially as the fourth quarter creeps up on us.” At last week’s Syndicate Conference in New York, Meyer told attendees selling video spots on a CPM basis might not be the best way, especially those with interactive components that put them in a realm beyond standard TV ads. He also suggested the dearth of video ad inventory indicates that the pricing model is off.

In February, About.com owner The New York Times Company signed a multi-year deal with Brightcove to build out video content on its Web sites and enable syndication of that content on other sites.

Meyer described the new player as “much more powerful,” featuring higher resolution and a “cleaner interface.” Users now can click to email or create a link directly to video clips, subscribe to RSS feeds for videos and search for videos within the player while watching video clips. The player is integrated into About.com’s proprietary production system which optimizes all site content, both text and now video, for search engines.

The publisher is also considering including user-generated video content on the site in 2007 to more fully engage users. “We’re looking to tap into our huge audience in the right context,” added Meyer.

Join ClickZ’s Online Video Advertising Forum in New York City, June 16, 2006.

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