Rich Media Banners: Working With Video

In “Pre-Roll Video Ads: Making Them Work,” I discussed the idea of requesting multiple video assets of various lengths from your client to allow for some creative flexibility with pre-roll planning.

I also encouraged planners to tap into publisher resources early on in the media planning process to explore the possibility of executing an unconventional pre- and post-roll alternative to the traditional pre-roll. Admittedly, this is easier said than done (as I was often reminded with your e-mail feedback), but breaking the existing pre-roll model shouldn’t conjure up comparisons to disrupting the space-time continuum. It requires intelligent, creative planners applying pressure on both clients and publishers to finally break from the traditional pre-roll model that we all love to hate.

This week, I’ll discuss another side of video planning, involving rich media banners that feature video.

Made-for-Online Video Ads

In-banner video is very different from pre-roll. Unlike pre-roll, users aren’t required to view video before consuming content on the page. Put simply, consumers can choose to ignore video banners in the same way they can choose to ignore standard banners.

One of the compounding reasons for this is the unwillingness or reluctance of brands and their agencies to feature alternative content in their video banners.

Wouldn’t it be more compelling if video banners featured content specifically produced or edited for an Internet audience? An Internet-only trailer, perhaps, or a series of three bite-sized :10 clips instead of a :30 TV spot?

That doesn’t mean you don’t expose consumers to your core video asset (i.e., official trailer, :30 spot); those are still very important. But Internet users would be more responsive to rich media banners if the video content featured within them offered some variety.

Striving for Optimal Frequency

Online planners strive to reach an optimal exposure frequency where awareness becomes consideration and consideration, in turn, yields a conversion.

If this optimal frequency for a particular rich media campaign is determined to be say, four to six, it would make sense to sustain a high level of user engagement and interest by diversifying the video content within the banner with every new exposure.

When the same in-banner video is used for every exposure, the diminishing returns increase more rapidly. That is to say, CTRs (define) and interactions for video banners decrease with every additional exposure at a greater rate than with standard Flash units.

To bandage the effect (and save on rich media serving fees), many planners place a frequency cap before the exposure where this precipitous drop-off occurs. A much more compelling solution would be to prevent this premature burnout by making a concerted effort to sustain engagement with a different in-banner video for every exposure.

Striking a Balance

Pre-roll video and rich media banners that feature video should be treated as separate components of a plan. They can be used in complementary fashion, but one shouldn’t be used to compensate for the lack of the other.

The environments in which each respective type of video is served affects consumer reaction and behavior: pre-roll exists in a pure video environment, where a user opts in to view content and waits (im)patiently for the pre-roll to finish before consuming content. With in-banner, the rich media video unit must fight with the page content for consumer attention.

Neither pre-roll nor in-banner video banners are without their flaws. Pre-roll essentially guarantees user exposure to the entire length of a video but often at the cost of consumer annoyance and creative inflexibility. In-banner videos offer flexibility and the potential to tell a story to a consumer (by sequentially serving episodic video banners to unique users), but only when a client has the resources and assets to allow agencies to flex their creative muscles.

The next time you plan a campaign with an option to purchase pre-roll video or rich media video banners, take a moment to consider user online behavior. Think about how you react to each type of video ad. All too often in this industry, we planners, strategists, and marketers forget that we are the very consumers we are trying to reach.

What’s your favorite marketing tool or service? Which one made your campaign a success? We want to know! Nominate your choice in the 2008 ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards. Nominations are open until August 14. Nominate now!

Related reading