Next Up for ‘The Pool’: Standards for UGC Advertising

After its project to develop industry standards for online video ads, a collaborative group formed by two Publicis entities is likely to tackle the wild world of user-generated content, said an executive involved with the project.

The pairing of advertisers and content publishers, dubbed “The Pool,” isn’t likely to wait until it’s finished with its online video initiative before it begins work on UGC and other “swim lanes,” said Tracey Scheppach, SVP of video innovations at Starcom MediaVest Group.

Starcom, a Publicis company, joined VivaKi, also under the Publicis umbrella, to create The Pool. The initiative brings together a number of Starcom customers — including Allstate, Applebee’s and Capital One — with big brains from media companies and content distributors including CBS Interactive, Discover Communications, Hulu.com, Microsoft Advertising, Platform A and Yahoo.

Sheppach said the initial goal of The Pool is to “figure out new ad models that need to emerge” for online video. But the collaborators will also put their heads together to settle on other ad standards. In addition to examining UGC, the group’s future efforts are likely to include agreeing on standards for advanced television, mobile media, and social networking, Scheppach said.

“Those things might include video as part of them but they might not,” she noted, adding that video search ad standards might also be studied. “Clearly, mobile video is a very interesting topic… We went out and talked with the distributors and content partners widely before we launched this first lane. Their appetite was strongest to do online video first, but the marketplace is yearning to understand other platforms beyond online video.”

The fact that Google/YouTube is not represented in The Pool, even as Scheppach is looking toward ad models for UGC, YouTube’s bread and butter, should not be misconstrued, Scheppach said. Google was invited to participate but didn’t respond in time for The Pool’s launch, she said.

“We would absolutely welcome other participants in The Pool,” stressed Scheppach. “This is not closed. We had to get started somewhere and there’s a never-ending list of people to invite. The door is open.”

Should The Pool’s efforts result, as planned, in new standards for Internet-related ads, advertisers aligned with Publicis Groupe entities will have the best seats in the house. “We like to make sure our advertisers are ahead of the pack and we are willing to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work,” Scheppach said. “Collaboration doesn’t come easily. We are willing to…make sure our advertisers are ahead of the movement.”

Scheppach said she expects The Pool to finish its work on online video ad standards before the end of the year. As for how this will all play out during a recession, Scheppach said the timing couldn’t be better.

“I think the timing is perfect for an initiative like this that seeks to make more efficient use of research dollars and gets you to revenue… quicker with less expenditure,” she said. “I think it is in perfect lock-step with the themes of the economy currently.”

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