Eyeblaster Bows In-Stream Video Product

Eyeblaster Monday debuted its contribution to the growing field of video advertising products — an in-stream unit suitable for TV-like insertion orders. The new offering, dubbed VideoClip, is bundled in the company’s rich media management platform.

That Eyeblaster’s product delivers ads within a video stream — before, after or between other video content — sets it apart from the recent flurry of video ad products, most of which offer between page capabilities geared toward traditional Web navigation. Unicast’s pre-cached Video Commercial and Eyewonder’s VideoStitial are two recent examples. The big exception is MSN Video, an in-stream video product marking a big investment for the portal in video content and advertising.

“We believe that the future of video based online advertising is tied directly to video based online content,” noted Gal Trifon, CEO of Eyeblaster. “Serving video advertising contextually — within user initiated video content — eliminates the intrusion associated with video playing in non-user-initiated banners or other formats, creating a much more tolerable ad unit.”

Publishers using Eyeblaster’s new product, which supports file sizes up to 2.2 MB, can choose to place ads at the beginning of a stream or somewhere in the middle. Ad rotation and frequency capping are supported. Eyeblaster has integrated the VideoClip with Windows Media Player, but not yet with the RealOne Player.

The VideoClip module is unique in that it offers a level of interactivity so far unseen in a video product. People interested in a featured product or service are able to pause and engage an ad by rolling over the window; a Flash layer enables advertisers to provide more information to viewers who want it. This goes a step beyond the side-by-side interactivity Unicast recently added to its Video Commercial.

A year ago, Jupiter Research reported the main obstacle to video advertising was the perception that the online video audience is too small. With online video use growing, particularly among broadband users, those doubts may be allayed. (AccuStream iMedia Research noted a 104 percent video stream growth spurt in 2003, with expectations of another 28 percent in 2004.)

But whether rising video use will cajole advertisers to commit to in-stream campaigns is uncertain, as is the likelihood that Eyeblaster will be the popular choice to support their early efforts. Jupiter Research analyst Nate Elliott expressed skepticism that a third party vendor will find success enabling in-stream video.

Naturally, Eyeblaster disagrees. Executive VP of Marketing and Strategy Paul Kadin notes while in-stream video advertising has been around for some time, it has typically been hard-wired by site publishers. Kadin says in addition to being hard to do, this makes it awkward for agencies to include ads as part of a campaign-wide strategy.

While the number of Internet users downloading video increases, nobody appears to know exactly which video products will prove popular with advertisers. Numerous formats are now being tried, and a handful of these will likely be ordained by advertisers interested in deploying their video assets online.

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