Covering Bases, Video Ad Network YuMe Offers Many Ad Formats

YuMe, a video distribution and advertising firm, is trying to cover the bases for its advertisers by offering a number of experimental advertising methods beyond common pre- and post-roll ads.

While it still traffics in pre-, mid- and post-roll ad formats, YuMe also now offers a number of advertising options for use with videos played through its network, all while reclassifying its materials by topic instead of Web site.

“Advertisers, especially online advertisers, are all interested in different types of interactive units that will engage their audience,” said Jayant Kadambi, CEO of YuMe. “One of the things we believe fairly strongly… is that people haven’t figured out quite yet which ad units will work out.”

YuMe’s new suite of ad formats includes interactive overlays, interactive menus similar to a DVD interface, watermarks, branded skins, and text ads at the bottom of the video screen. Also new is a viral sharing feature.

YuMe is also moving away from offering ad buys on only a site-by-site basis, and will instead begin grouping them over several sites in general categories, including entertainment, music, lifestyle, sports, news, and gaming, according to the company.

The extra options have appealed to some of YuMe’s publisher partners with shorter form content that isn’t well suited to pre- or post-roll ads, including moowee.tv, an online video company bringing online video to standard television devices. Kris Harikrishnan, founder and CEO of moowee.tv, said YuMe’s watermark format is especially well suited to his firm’s menu of short clip offerings. “If people want to learn more about this particular brand, they can click on it and use that to get to another video on the topic,” he said. “The beauty of this is its non-intrusive and on demand, and a little bit of a departure from the CPM world.”

Other video ad networks experimenting with in-video ad formats include Heavy.com’s video skins and VideoEgg’s overlays. While innovative, YuMe’s strategy of offering numerous formats at the same time may have its drawbacks, according to Ben Barokas, VP of advertising sales and services for Jump TV, a video aggregator and YuMe customer.

“Having a menu to choose from is important,” he said. “The drawback is that from a development perspective, if you’re not focused on a particular ad product, are you going to be able to perform very well in… scalability?”

Additionally, he said, “We haven’t gotten into the weeds enough to answer whether or not it works for all different types of codecs.”

Still, Barokas applauds YuMe’s attempt to cover its bases. “We’re going to see a lot of different formats in video and we’re in the experimental phase in terms of what’s going to work with a particular experience,” he said. “So having the option of utilizing a bug versus a pre-roll versus a skin [is] going to be important.”

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