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Buzz Friday for August 31, 2007

Video marketing overview, why pre-roll must die

iStock_000003290791XSmall.jpgVideo on the internet is like TV shows on my Tivo. I watch what I want, when I want it and if I don’t like it I’m one click away from abandoning the content. With online video’s boom, companies are scrambling to figure out how to engage viewers and attempt to monetize.

What’s the easiest way to do this? Pre-roll. The lazy man’s solution if you ask me. Companies, in their hurry to launch video ads, are simply re-purposing their :15 and :30 second spots (which are dying themselves) as pre-roll ads. If you haven’t come across this infuriatingly annoying act, you will. Besides the pure interruption that this causes, 15 and 30 seconds is WAY too long for web video. It's an eternity in an on-demand world.

Let’s look at the current video formats playing in the market right now. The areas shaded in red show the interruption point and the most likely place users will abandon the content.


This is usually a re-purposed :15 or :30 spot that normally runs on TV. The user has to wait for the ad to load and play before the content they want is available. Most services are not letting you skip these ads either.

    Pros: Content usually exists in long-form, quick solution

    Cons: Content is too long for the web, irrelevant placements, deters people from watching content

overlay.pngOverlay ads

This is the method that YouTube is going to. The overlay takes up approximately the lower quarter of the content and users can close it at any time. The ads, when clicked, expand over the content, pausing what you were watching until you close it.

    Pros: Less interruptive, generally lower in production cost, better targeting

    Cons: Still interruptive, easily ignored just like the same tactic on the TV

post-roll.pngPost-roll ads

Post-roll ads will play after the content is completed. This is the lowest level of interruption for in-video advertising. Post-roll ads are also typically made up of re-purposed 15's and 30's pulled from an existing TV campaign.

    Pros: Doesn't interrupt content, re-use existing formats

    Cons: Content is too long for the web, targeting is lacking with TV-like broadcast advertising models

splitad.pngThe splice-in

This hasn't happened yet to my knowledge, but it's only a matter of time. Advertising will be spliced into a clip like a traditional ad is in a TV program. Content may or may not be created with this in mind. This is the ultimate in interruption, but users should be able to fast forward through them like on Tivo.

    Pros: None (and I mean it, this will really make me angry)

    Cons: Interruptive, intrusive and stealthy. Nothing good about this one.

So how can marketers create marketing content that works? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Make the content hyper-relevant. Think about using RSS to feed ads dynamically to match the content. Think Flash-animated content with, or instead of, video.
  • Create the message around the content. Sponsor the media player itself. Think branded entertainment.
  • Ask how can you add value to the video experience? Just plopping an ad in place to get some impressions isn't going to do you any good.
  • Use advanced targeting for ads to make sure your message aligns with the content. The days of running a TV spot to reach "18-35 year old males" is gone. You need to think about reaching "23-year-old males in Dallas who play pick up basketball"
  • Make the form MUCH shorter. I'm talking about 3 second ads.

The last point is one I want to expand upon. Web video is dynamic and immediate. When you shoot a commercial (if you're still doing such a thing) are you thinking about short-form alternatives?

The :03 will be the new :30, but that's the title of a post for next week.

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