In-Banner Video Advertising

Recently, I wrote about a couple of the most interesting and successful experiments with online video advertising models. The common element they share is consideration for the consumer. They obliged the advertisements to be accountable not only to the advertiser’s bottom line, but first and foremost to the consumer.

Howard Gossage would’ve been proud. He was often critical of the media for over-reliance on advertising and the temptation to bow first to the advertiser’s wishes while ignoring the consumer’s needs. To wit:

“While it is a very nice added service to have hot dogs at a football game, I don’t think they should interrupt play to sell them. This, of course, is precisely what happens on television…everyone has been demoted from spectators to potential hot dog consumers.”

Gossage fans out there know how infinitely quotable he is. He wrote like an old curmudgeon, but in a good way. I can only aspire to such curmudgeon-ry.

Anyway, the last column didn’t have the space get in to in-banner video. There’s some fairly interesting experimentation going on in this.

Multiple Videos and Seamless Expansions

Movie studios have been using in-banner video for years. It’s a natural for them. And it’s probably the one instance where I’ll grant you that taking a :30 TV spot (the trailer) and running it in a banner is a decent idea. But I wouldn’t leave it at that. Make it more immersive and engaging.

They’re experimenting there as well with lots of expanding ads, often with multiple videos, trailers and clips. Many feature downloads such as screensavers or desktop wallpaper. Most do a great job at providing some value in the form of entertainment and additional unexpected information to the consumer in exchange for attention, all without being too intrusive.

Much of the experimentation here has more to do with how the video fits in the banner and transitions into the expanded space. These examples showcase some nice transitions:

Branching Ads

Recently, I’ve seen a few examples of TV spots repurposed and enhanced with interactive extensions. The spot plays, but at the end of 15 or 30 seconds it provides choices about where to go to next. It’s kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure book. One for a pharmaceutical product featured a spokesperson doing his normal gig. But as the ad wrapped, three members of the production crew came over to ask the spokesperson questions about the drug. You’re then given the choice to click on any of the crew members to watch video of his question and the spokesperson’s answer. It winds up feeling a little disjointed, but it’s a great first step towards more interactive, engaging video. At least it’s miles better than simply taking the TV spot and throwing it into a 300 x 250 banner.

Original Video

It’s still extremely rare to see video in a banner that was been shot specifically for that format. There are a host of excuses for this. Production’s expensive, reach is limited, video quality is weak, broadband isn’t growing fast enough, the consumer experience can be bad, why pay all that money for something that’s not guaranteed even to be watched amid the clutter, etc. Suffice it to say I use “excuse” very deliberately.

Here’s my rebuttal: You should put as much time, care and thought into online ads as you do into all your other advertising channels. A carefully crafted online video banner can be more impactful than that old video standby, the TV spot.

Marketers are embracing online and increasing their spending in the channel. As they do so, they see the importance of deep attention and focus on the quality of the online message. This will ultimately lead to more format-specific video. Some of our clients are already dipping their toes in the water. I hope to be able to share this work in my next column. In the meantime, I’d welcome other examples of original video for Web ads.

Please send them my way. I’ll collect the best for next time.

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