Video Overlays Gained Traction This Year, but Obstacles Remain

Advertisers tinkered with online video advertising formats in 2007 as pre-roll ads began to fall out of favor and video overlays picked up some traction.

“Video just didn’t seem to be the ‘story of the year.’ Perhaps because really it was well integrated into a lot of different places and formats like portals, branded destination sites, and one-off video centric destinations,” said Scott Symonds, executive media director at AKQA. “The exciting part about online video advertising now is it really can’t be just a repurposing of a TV spot as a pre-roll on a news story. In order to have any genuine impact it needs to be more creative and better conceived.”

The most notable trials involving video overlays were separately undertaken by VideoEgg and ScanScout. Then in August YouTube began allowing advertisers to place ads in video content.

“For us in the advertising standpoint, it’s been all about finding a way to harness video and go beyond the pre-roll,” said David Smith, CEO of Mediasmith, a digital media agency. “Just running pre-roll everybody agrees is the predominant form, but it’s not the optimal form for video advertising for the future.”

Although agencies and advertisers are keen to move beyond the use of pre-roll ads, some are reluctant to place their brand next to user-generated content (UGC) on video sites such as YouTube.

Also, overlays may not appeal to direct advertisers or the creative agencies hired to place video advertisements, said Allen Stern, media director at San Francisco.

“The creatives haven’t sparked to the overlays. They see it as one of the things they don’t like about cable TV,” he said. “We’re seeing it more as a way to get a logo out there rather than a creative message. It may be be appropriate for some brands, but it’s not going to work for a lot of our clients. They are more direct-response oriented clients and looking for a little more message delivery than overlay is able to deliver.”

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