When It Comes to Video, Integration Is Integral


In a world where advertisers spend millions of dollars on self-serve online advertising, and huge companies spend millions of dollars developing ways to make the process easier, there have never been more opportunities to be a successful ROI (define) focused, direct response advertiser. Even Google is adopting video and rich media as tools to drive efficient clicks and sales. That’s great news if you want to experiment with those tools but avoid potential efficiency risks.

But what about the old-fashioned, awareness-focused, brand-oriented (and now, engagement-conscious) advertiser? As video has emerged as a viable option to extend brands and brand awareness online, all the talk seems to be about how video inventory can be made more targeted, more efficient, and more relevant.

Lest we forget, another promise of the Web is the integration and innovation that advertisers were seeking in other media. For better or worse, product placement and integration are now commonplace on TV. It’s just what advertisers want for their brands, especially in an era of DVRs and increased ad avoidance. Those same advertisers are flocking to the Web en masse. And believe me, they’re expecting the same kind of alignment for their brands.

Is online media ready to handle the brand dollars that are ready to move online? Yes. But agencies and publishers must cooperate to deliver the value and impact brand advertisers need to keep those dollars moving.

The more online video is discussed purely in terms of inventory, the more it becomes commoditized. But instead of focusing on creating more inventory to sell more, I’d like to see the focus put on premium, integrated video. That’s where advertisers might be willing to pay more, and consumers may even want to watch more.

I’ve previously written about how simplifying online ad buying processes could eventually lead to inventory and creative commoditization that could set artificial limits on this medium’s maturity. Video is no exception.

Video importance online is growing. It’s moving away from an also-ran content tab toward the center of some sites. The most effective, engaging, and efficient video campaigns wind up, not coincidentally, as the most integrated with the content surrounding it. Sure, pre-roll ads are seen. But when it comes to ads that get responses — and keep audiences responding — integrated placements get the job done.

Integration means video-centric promotional areas that are contextually relevant. It means creating original video content audiences will want to watch because it’s about things the surrounding content qualifies them as being interested in. It means coproducing video content utilizing personalities audiences are familiar with.

Oddly enough, new media as these concepts are, they’re as old as electronic media itself. In the early days of television, “Texaco Star Theater” had Milton Berle doing live commercials for sponsors’ products. “The Price is Right” built decades of television around using product promotionally to create an entertaining viewing experience. Integration has been around for a long, long time.

In online video, the onus is not only on publishers to make these opportunities sellable but also on agencies to make them feasible to advertisers. This whole Web 2.0 movement is creating new opportunities for publishers to gear video opportunities around content consumers are generating themselves, sometimes forcibly. It’s not likely consumers will sit through a :15 commercial for :30 of content. But are agencies evolving at the same pace as the medium?

Today’s best-positioned agencies must have an understanding of how video is produced, how it’s used in other media, and how to get creative with the ways it can be purchased online. This holistic understanding of video and its application will make both agencies and advertisers comfortable with a quickly changing online video landscape. And it will give publishers the incentive to not only change but evolve at a quicker pace.

The ideal scenario calls for publishers and agencies to work together to create these integrated opportunities for advertisers. There is constant buzz about the need to create more online video inventory for advertisers to buy.

I’d rather focus on creating better video opportunities for advertisers — and better experiences for consumers.

Meet Ian at Online Video Advertising Forum in New York City, June 16, 2006.


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