What Do You Want From Online Video in 2008?

The year 2007 was a watershed year for online video. The market matured a bit more, and clear leaders in the space emerged. We got a new ad format, the video overlay, and media buyers and creatives became just a little savvier with how they utilize online video.

But what will 2008 bring? How will you be able to take advantage of it?

It’s possible, even likely, that next year people will have finally made sense of this medium and will fight for control over it because of its effectiveness, efficiency, and numerous advertising options.

Certain things must happen for all that to blossom, however. But here are some things to look out for and for you to make happen in 2008 that can help.

Better Standards

In 2008, do your part to contribute to, comment on, and eventually adhere to online video ad standards. While I’ve previously spoken out against the commoditization that rigid standards can sometimes bring, they’re certainly necessary to move the industry forward. There will always be room for improvement on and bending of those standards, but they will be responsible for more (and better) creative, increased monetization of (and just plain more) inventory, and more advertisers buying online video.

Better Targeting

There’s something to be said about reaching the right person. Television has conditioned us: to reach the right person, we must be around the right content. For TV, that’s all it had to target audiences with. But with all the tools available to us online, we can have so much more. Beyond contextual and demographic targeting, we have the opportunity to reach audiences with messaging that’s not only behaviorally targeted but also lifestyle targeted. The kind of video content someone consumes can be a very telling indicator of what interests him or her. Advertisers, publishers, and networks can all be part of the targeting-improvement process.

Better Distribution

The online video model is very different from the television model. With online video, not only can the content travel, but so can the advertising. The most desirable online video content will elicit the most ad impressions around it and possess the most perceived value; it will be the content that travels the farthest. Advertisers that can attach themselves to this premium content early, forge a brand association with consumers, and take advantage of both orchestrated distribution channels and those that are consumer driven (e.g., embedded) will find significantly better success in 2008. And the content producers, publishers, and networks that can distribute this content will share in it.

Better Measurement

We must measure online video better. Of online’s advantages over television, this may hold the most promise. In 2008, the industry’s research and measurement leaders must deliver ways to better track the success of every dollar advertisers spend. And advertisers must demand it.

Better Content

If 2006 and 2007 were the years of consumer-generated content (and there won’t be any kind of slowdown in 2008), then 2008 may be the year professionally produced content actually gets good enough to draw enough reach to seriously challenge and rival cable television — which is what’s necessary for online video to thrive. The year 2007 saw many publishers spawn successful online video content (e.g., Boing Boing), and we’ll see even more of this next year.

Better Education

Both digital and traditional media buyers must be better educated about online video, and publishers and their sales teams must learn how to address those buyers’ challenges. It will take candid conversation and persistent communication to make this happen, with thought leaders on both sides taking the lead.

Next year will be very good for online video. But how good it’s actually going to be is up to you.

Happy holidays, and happy New Year!

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