The newest ‘Tower of Babel’: digital video advertising

The newest 'Tower of Babel'

Why does it matter if we use words appropriately in terms of context and meaning? Who’s to say that an apple isn’t the same as a screwdriver or a light bulb the same as a turtle?

Merriam-Webster  may have something to say about it, but it doesn’t take a reference like the English dictionary to tell us how important context and meaning are to communication.

Language, by definition, requires consistency. Words can be created and definitions applied by anyone, but it’s not until there’s a consensus that those words and definitions become a valuable part of a culture’s lexicon.

Across all aspects of life we see the emergence of new words and meanings. These words and phrases arise out of need and use. When something new is discovered, it needs a descriptor. When pop culture starts using a new idiom, it often requires a teenager to explain it.

The same underlying conditions for word and phrase creation apply in advertising. And in no other area of advertising is more evolution happening than in digital video.

Over the past two decades alone, we’ve seen the rise of the Internet, the conversion of analog TV to digital, the emergence of high-definition viewing formats, interactive, 3D, addressable, and the technology to put it all in the palm of your hand.

So how do we keep up and make sure that everyone knows that an “over-the-top” (OTT) is not a kitchen appliance or that “waterfall” is not just a geological term? How do we keep buyers and sellers of video advertising from getting confused?

Fortunately, we don’t need a teenager to explain it. We only need industry peers and ourselves to move video advertising forward in assigning consistent definitions to the terms used in communication and business.

And, in an effort to break through the Tower of Babel that has emerged in the digital video marketplace, IAB Digital Video Center of Excellence recently released the Video Advertising Glossary.

video advertising glossary

This glossary is a culmination of efforts from 54 IAB member companies who each contributed time, manpower, and intelligence to create the much-needed reference.

The working group’s mission was to compile a comprehensive lexicon of video terms currently used throughout the video marketplace.

Their efforts netted more than 200 terms that were then refined based on their importance and confusion for clients. These terms were then collectively defined and submitted for peer review until the list of 40 terms emerged.

However, the list of 40 terms in the glossary is anything but final. New terms have already been submitted for future iterations of the glossary and it is possible that terms we don’t even use today will soon appear.

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Digital video advertising is growing so fast that new acronyms and phrases crop up regularly.

Skyrocketing growth is obviously a positive, but it is incumbent on all of us to come together to reduce confusion and improve communication through consistency.

Lexicon barriers shouldn’t get in the way of digital video’s progress.

Coming together on the industry’s own version of Merriam-Webster for the marketplace is a must.

We might all know that “TV everywhere” isn’t just what you see when you’re lost at Best Buy, but there are many other terms that are not ready to stand on their own. It is only when we work collectively that we can speak the same language.

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