Online Video Grows Up

With online video, there’s lots to criticize. It’s not a hate or love thing. For many in this industry, it’s about shaking up the comfortable convention of a video stuck on some Web site, with no regard for interactivity.

As online technology evolves, the line between the moving picture and interaction will blur. But will the ad industry maintain its child-like habit of slapping a video online and forgetting it? Or will it grow to adulthood, taking some responsibility for its offspring? Better yet, will it act like a carefree teen and experiment?

Some new functions and formats speak to the evolution we’re going through, as interactive crashes with online video much like a big comet striking Earth:

  • Full screens. Many small ad units can now spawn a full-screen experience. This may not seem new, but it was a rare occurrence in the Web’s early days. Being able to open the entire frame to the ad is a sea change for some, an annoyance for others.
  • Previewing. This marks act one of full screen. It’s a smart way to give users a taste of the video in play before going full screen.
  • Expandability. Though expandability isn’t a new format, having video play in a maximum horizontal width is another stride. It really doesn’t stop at format, because we’re building in Flash, thus a number of additional elements can fill that frame as well.
  • Framing. With the use of layering in Flash, we can move out of the 4:3 standard video box advertisers commonly used and consumers commonly ignore. The ability to reframe a video frame represents a better way to integrate style and substance at the ad level.
  • There are at least another dozen online video trends, and every day a new idea breaks the mold a bit more. But this isn’t intended to be a pep talk about online video. It’s a recognition that despite ongoing challenges, there are creative ways to make online video less stale and more interesting to users.

    Video is still in its adolescence. It’s in a dark, cozy corner trying to impress someone, and its voice is cracking.

    For video to reach adulthood, we must continue to experiment. Ten years ago, programmers and art directors devised rich media format ideas, many of which are still in use. In the coming months, we’ll see more interactive video advances, specifically in-video experiences. This form of integral interactivity has been around for many years, but a new generation of users is willing to accept it. And that’s a good thing.

    That’s why our medium is so exciting. It hasn’t yet become an adult, nor has it become settled in its ways. For now, let’s hang out at the vast online video party and have some fun until the parents get home.

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