NBCU Kills Off :30 Spots for Short Clips, Adds New Formats

Come July, NBC Universal will stop accepting :30 spots for delivery against short form content served up on its sites. The media conglomerate, whose Web properties include iVillage, BravoTV.com, NBC.com and scifi.com, has also struck friendships with four ad technology providers to enhance its arsenal of digital ad formats.

NBCU is the second online video powerhouse in a week to say it will restrict its online ad standards to require video spots of 15-seconds or less. Brightcove, which announced yesterday it would sell in-stream ads through video ad network Tremor, will also accept only ads in that content that are a quarter-minute or shorter.

“The conventional wisdom is in our favor on this one,” said Peter Naylor, SVP of digital media sales for NBC Universal. “We’re saying ‘no’ to this one ad format as a way to say ‘yes’ to having a conversation and…to engaging in a dialog with the principal rich media providers and figure out what’s on their minds. It’s using this as a catalyst to elevate the conversation a little bit.”

NBCU has established formal relationships with four rich media ad purveyors to enhance ad interactivity in the video environment. The first of these that’s likely to come to fruition is a deal with Viewpoint’s Unicast online ad subsidiary, which will provide in-page rich media functions such as user-initiated video showcases in ads that run adjacent to the clip. NBCU has also joined video pioneer Eyewonder’s “Instream 2.0” project to advance user engagement in online video ads through telescoping, overlays and other features; it has additional relationships with PointRoll and Eyeblaster.

“It has a lot to do with the entire real estate of the screen, not just the video window,” said Naylor of the vendor partnerships. “How can we take advantage of the entire screen? Even good old data capture could happen in the companion spaces.”

About a third of all NBC.com’s short form video content is monetized with :30 spots today, Naylor said. He added NBC is offering a two-month warning for its new ad standards so marketers will have time to make the procedural and creative changes needed to ensure a smooth transition.

The company will continue to accept :30 spots for its long-form content, defined as full-length TV shows ported to the Web.

NBCU’s move to mandate shorter ads followed a study it conducted in which respondents were shown either :15 or :30 spots in a short-form video setting and then asked to respond to them. Those viewing the longer units were more likely to describe the ads as too lengthy and say they were inclined to stop watching the content. Those who saw the :15 spots were more likely to characterize the ad length as appropriate for the content. Those findings were heightened among men and younger respondents.

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