Video and Rich Media Strategies for 2007

When we look back at 2006, we’ll wonder how so much happened in so little time. Acquisitions of Web properties with real audiences shook up the media landscape, and the seeds of new content distribution channels were sown. Media companies old and new seized various opportunities to capitalize on online video viewership, creating fertile ground for ad growth for years to come. Streaming-video ad serving vendors were acquired by ad serving’s old guard, adding the potential for many new measurability and accountability dimensions.

If advertisers and agencies saw this coming, they were way ahead of the game. If you are even remotely involved in creating or planning rich media or video advertising, these are some strategies you should be exploring now to be as effective as possible next year.

APIs

APIs (define) allow data to be passed back and forth between Web-based applications. The Web site mashup phenomenon (e.g., Google Maps) is a direct result of companies providing consumers with access to technologies that were previously off-limits.

Expect APIs to be further opened in the world of online video. Allowing consumers and advertisers to use and plug into popular video sites’ community and sharing features will ultimately create more advertising inventory and innovative experiences.

Ubiquity and Serialization

In 2006, for the first time since the dot-com heyday, we saw what appeared to be the success of serialized programming online. Whether it was the hipster-focused “The Burg,” “Ask A Ninja,” Ze Frank’s podcast, or Rocketboom, it’s been proven that audiences can be secured, grown, and sustained via effective content distribution and community.

Content has the potential to become more ubiquitous and available than ever before. Original content (think: branded entertainment) created by advertisers and made available (and, of course, promoted) in numerous distribution channels can exponentially increase the number of views that content might receive.

With the right combination of entertaining content, the patience (and strategy) to grow an audience, community features that drive engagement, and distribution and promotion channels to raise its profile, you could have a winner on your hands. But it’s got to be good.

Virtual Worlds

There’s more to virtual worlds than Second Life. MTV.com’s Laguna Beach and many others reach the same audiences. If you’re looking to reach the elusive 18-24 year old demographic, odds are you’ll find them spending real time in other virtual worlds. Familiarize yourself with what’s out there, and be a bigger fish in a smaller pond to your target audience.

Video Ad Networks

It used to be that video ad networks were purely the domain of specialists. Now the world’s largest online ad networks are joining the fray. Advertising.com, ValueClick, and others are now distributing content and selling video inventory. The combined reach of any one of these networks could rival many cable TV networks, and behavioral and other targeting technologies could make them capable of much better targeting.

The Surge of Online-Only Campaigns

In 2007, we’ll likely see more brand advertisers develop campaigns specifically for the Web after seeing mixed results from porting their traditional campaigns or just maintaining consistency. Audiences exhibit different behavior online, even though they are the same people reached via other media. We’ll likely begin to see preliminary results from Ford’s ambitious Bold Moves campaign in the coming months, and it will likely inspire other advertisers to take similar (but less desperate) approaches.

Why wait for that to happen? Original advertising created exclusively for online audiences (with potential to leap into other media) will succeed, either as content or in a more classic commercial format. But commercial formats must break free of the classic :15 or :30 model. An effective message can be delivered in under 10 seconds. Only then will audiences begin to accept the pre-roll (or any-roll, for that matter). On-demand, free media can be ad-supported, and at least one advertiser and publisher will get it right in ’07.

Genuine Internet Celebrity

Stay on top of not only who’s reporting the news online but who’s making it. As soon as amateur content creators are compensated for their content, they become professionals. Don’t miss an opportunity to create a relationship with an influential personality who has street cred and can speak directly to your audience in a voice they already trust.

Reinterpretation

For some time, technology has been making the reinterpretation of both video and audio content much easier to an increasingly more novice consumer group. And it’s going to get easier. As copyright compromises, Creative Commons licenses, and general licensing deals make content easier to find, audiences will have more freedom to reinterpret content.

If your brand can be involved (even associated with a content creator/producer to provide better access), your audience’s creative spirit can be unleashed with an authenticity that can do more than any single commercial could deliver.

These aren’t the predictions folks have come to expect from online gurus. Consider them sage advice. They are the evolution of strategies and opportunities we’ve seen mature in 2006 and are ripe for further exploration. They’re a combination of rewarded success and learned-from mistakes. By delving further into these trends, you’ll reap rewards from not only being first, but being right.

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