Jumping Into the Stream

About four years ago, I sat in on my first meeting involving repurposing television ad content for an online campaign. At the time, the primary concern was the video compression algorithms and the average Internet access speed would limit the video to about six frames per second in a very small video window. There was also the issue of bandwidth, which made the idea of receiving video content via a 28.8k dial-up connection about as appealing as a root canal.

This approach of repurposing television video content also brought up the question of added value. What would a video ad running on a Web site offer consumers that they couldn’t get by watching TV? The answer in most cases was “nothing.” In fact, the quality and size of the video playback online would make it less appealing and therefore less effective as an online advertising medium. In the end, the agency decided against running a video campaign.

The idea of repurposing video ads for online use, as well as creating video content exclusively for online marketing use, haven’t gone away, however. Increasingly more online marketers are looking into the possibility of creating streaming video campaigns.

According to a report released by Jupiter Research (a unit of this site’s parent corporation) a few weeks ago, up to 65 percent of marketers are expected to run online video ads within the next year, but most campaigns will be small, with spending under $50,000 total. Though we can guess most of these campaigns will be run for the purposes of determining the feasibility of the video ad, what can these early marketers expect to discover?

According to Jupiter’s Nate Elliott, who was the lead analyst for this study, the biggest issue for most marketers is one of measuring the effectiveness of the ad. Although cookies can be tagged then left open for 30 days to see if the consumer visits the Web site during that period, that still doesn’t measure the overall effectiveness of branding for those who see the ad but never take a follow-up action.

The other big issue right now is most marketers believe the online audience for their messaging is too small. Elliott says, “You can get a much larger number of viewers to a video ad if you place the video as part of an online page ad. However, most consumers aren’t that receptive to the message because it is competing with the other page content and is generally invasive.”

He cites online properties such as BMW Films also offer a precached video experience. Once again, the consumers who frequent these sites are willing to install and wait for the content, and, once again, the content is of great quality. It also doesn’t hurt the films are heavily BMW branded. If you can create an eight and a half minute ad for your product consumers are willing to download and install, what’s not to like?

In other cases, the type of marketing content is going to determine the overall appeal to the consumer audience. For example, movie trailers and music video clips are often considered to be “fun ads” with a greater marketing appeal than ads for consumer packaged goods might have.

Overall, what does this mean for the future of streaming video content in ads?

Elliott says it looks like very slow growth for the foreseeable future. For many advertisers this limited growth will be due to a lack of understanding of how to measure the effectiveness of such ads. In other cases, it’s finding the right audience online.

I would suggest in the long run advertisers will find ways to effectively measure the branding potential of online video ads and to determine the best messages for their particular audiences. For the time being, it seems the only way to use video effectively in online marketing is to create content that will draw consumers to the ads instead of bringing ads to the consumers.

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