Video Ads, and How One Nearly Killed my Computer

It wasn’t a virus from an infected ad or stress from rich media demands of streaming video, but a common commercial diversion that nearly did in my Alienware. My husband called not long before I left work yesterday to prepare me for the worst: My computer may be dead from a freak accident.

He was watching a show on a network-supported steaming site when the stream went to commercial break. He reached for his PDA to play a quick game for the :30 duration of the ad and knocked something off his desk, which landed squarely on the off switch to my computer’s power supply. Attempts to power everything back up were greeted with an “Error Loading Operating System” message. We thought we’d crossed over into the territory of reformatting or worse, hand over your credit card for a new computer. This morning he poked around the BIOS and restored my operating system.

While the Wall Street Journal reports AccuStreamiMedia research finding ad revenues from streaming video and audio reached $1.37 billion, a 38 percent increase over 2006, are Web watchers paying any more attention than TV watchers when the sponsor takes over the screen? Just because the computer is a lean forward medium, and the user is likely sitting closer to the screen doesn’t mean there’s any more likelihood they’ll offer their undivided attention.

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