DoubleClick Exec: Video Hot-Spotting on the Rise

The use of interactive elements within an ad’s video frame, sometimes known as hot-spotting, has increased slowly but steadily since its first appearance more than two years ago, according to DoubleClick’s EVP of rich media and video, Chris Young.

Young, who founded and ran video ad firm Klipmart before DoubleClick bought it last year, said the number of hot spotting ads his firm helped produce and traffic this year was “maybe two dozen,” compared with about one dozen last year and a small handful the year before. The first client he’s aware of that produced such an ad execution was Electronic Arts in a campaign for the game “Battlefield 2.”

He added advertiser use of the technology has become more elegant, as in the case of a new campaign DoubleClick helped create for client NBC’s revival of the “Bionic Woman” series beginning this fall. The main ad execution for that campaign consists of a rollover banner (viewable here) that expands to play a video teaser for the program. As the ad plays out, a cursor icon offers the viewer chances to click and learn more about pertinent aspects of storyline and production. It contains two separate “making of” sequences, one about the staging of a car crash and the other about stunts.

NBC produced the execution in-house in partnership with DoubleClick, which refers to the use of interactive layers over video and animation as “sweet-spotting.” The TV network has an ongoing consulting relationship with DoubleClick to innovate around online ads, similar to recent deals it struck with four other rich media vendors earlier this year. DoubleClick has already developed two specific ad experiments for the client. They include an “alpha channel video,” first used to promote NBC’s “Grease,” that displays superimposed video over dynamic site content; and a 60×60 pixel “video button,” introduced on behalf of NBC’s “The Black Donnellys,” that indicates to a user when a video is available to be expanded and watched.

Young believes more advertisers could use hot-spotting to good effect, particularly in the entertainment and retail verticals, where an accessory or apparel item can be made clickable. While the number of campaigns using the technique has risen, by his estimate it represents less than one fifth of one percent of DoubleClick’s historical campaign volume.

“I’ve probably seen about 40 sweet-spot campaigns out of a total potential of 15,000 ad campaigns” that were trafficked through Klipmart and then DoubleClick over the past three years, he said.

Most rich media vendors long ago quit heralding their experimental new ad products, but DoubleClick has spent some energy promoting a series of video-related formats. Earlier this summer, the firm began offering a bargain rich media format, christened the Teaser, which lets marketers create video ad units with 500k file sizes but relatively low CPMs in the range of $.50, much closer to what advertisers are used to paying for a 30k banner. Young said the ad was meant to help bridge the gulf between two disparate categories of banner ads: the “cheap and cheerful” rich banner and the more sophisticated $2-plus CPM rich media utility.

“What the teaser does is creates a new in-between zone,” he said. “We’re bringing up the bottom part of the media plan and making it richer.”

Since DoubleClick acquired Klipmart a year ago and merged it with DoubleClick’s Motif rich media ad unit, the company has bagged both brands in favor of the more blandly descriptive name DoubleClck Rich Media and Video. International business for the division has grown considerably in the last year, Young said, especially in Europe and Asia, where “business is definitely ahead of where we expected it to be.”

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