Content Delivery, Storage, and Playback in 2006


If you’re reading this column, you’re dangerously close to missing out on your New Year’s Eve plans and even closer to watching Ryan Seacrest. You should forward this column to all your coworkers so they know you’re working this close to the big night.

By now, you’ve probably read everyone’s predictions for online advertising in 2006. They’re fairly general, but I’m going to be a little more specific. Here are six things you must wrap your head around this coming year or risk becoming a dinosaur from 2005.

  • Pay very close attention to Google. Traditionally, Google has stayed away from anything graphical. Slowly, over the last year or so, it’s been integrating image-based ads into its system. Video has played a bigger role in its search results and will play an even bigger role in 2006 and beyond. Its content partner program makes indexing video into its system quick and easy. Couple that with more developments to come, and you’ve got the most powerful video search and playing platform available. Use this to your advantage.
  • Viral content creates clutter. The rush of many companies to create viral content has created a maelstrom of head-spinning videos, unloaded onto the public at a breakneck pace. That makes it increasingly difficult for an ad to stand out. Complicating things further is that standing out is essentially out of your control; consumers must do that job for you. As 2005 wore on, there were only a handful of videos that broke into the pseudo-mainstream, including “The Shining” a target=”_new” href=””>trailer redux and, very recently, “Saturday Night Live’s” “Lazy Sunday.” Interestingly, these were fairly non-commercial and non-promotional, yet the “Lazy Sunday” video has gotten people interested in “Saturday Night Live” again. If viral components are on your 2006 agenda, remember how difficult it is to create cool, then temper expectations. Viral content won’t go away, but it will be harder to crack the big time.
  • Streaming video serving will get more interesting. For the last few years, streaming video has been the domain of the big streaming-server companies, such as Akamai. Times are changing. With improvements in Flash, high-definition codecs (define), and other compression technologies, files are becoming both smaller and more interactive. Learn what’s out there and how to use them.
  • Mobile advertising becomes easier. Mobile ad networks keep popping up. As more content is available, you must get your brand integrated. Do everything you can to understand the standard ad opportunities this medium offers.
  • The home entertainment experience will continue to evolve. There’s little doubt Apple is preparing to make a big entry into the consumer electronics space. Windows Media Center PCs have been out for a while now, and they’re picking up steam. Content portability, once a dream, is now a reality. Put a plan in place to involve your brand in this rapidly changing environment. The ability to play back, download, and store content is provided to consumers on hundreds of possible devices. Video game advertising is likely to mature as well. How will your brand find its way in?
  • Keep a close eye on Microsoft. The giant has awakened. 2006 will see a launch of a new OS (we’ll believe it when we see it), a new browser, a new portal (, and a new music/media download portal setup to rival iTunes. MSN’s AdCenter, while still in its infancy, may be the targeted ad-serving system that advertisers have been looking for. Make sure you follow the development of all its new properties and software. No doubt it will have a significant effect on how you buy and plan your online media.

The common threads here are content delivery, storage, and playback. For decades, TV was the only game in town. Now, TV’s got to play the same guessing game as everyone else, as it needs to find ways for its brands (programming) to stand out.

It’s going to be an interesting 2006, as some of these things begin to play out. But that’s next week.

For this week, a joyous and peaceful New Year’s!


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