The Agency Conundrum: Advertisers are Ready for Video, But are Consumers?


At an online agency conference in December, I sat through several meetings on the subject of what interactive media is and how we define it, measure it, and buy it. I had no idea that this was a brainstorming session on behalf of media buyers, as it seemed like a pretty straightforward answer to me. However, when video was applied to those questions, it created a divide in the online agency world on the effect of video and its best practices.

A strong media buying agency representative suggested that the only effective way to measure video would be by using television’s reach and frequency model. Why not, right? Forget about knowing exactly how many streams are being delivered, or which commercials are actually not being skipped, or even better, actually identify interest immediately.

Reach and frequency works very well in a world where all that is necessary are households with a TV set. So in someone’s theory it could work well for the web too… except I’m just not aware of anyone that has figured out how to track the reach of the Worldwide Web yet. Are you?

Web video’s ability to track action and content within an ad is really pulling on its technology roots. Some of the more cutting edge users such as videogame developers are at the point of using hotspotting to identify consumer touch points within an ad so they can identify what in the ad is the primary motivator.

It kind of feels like an episode of the “Bionic Man” — “We have the technology to build him…” but does anyone care?

We decided to find out.

We put a very simple media test together of 2 groups of 75,000 consumers to see 2 versions of the same ad. In our world, impressions are like households with TV – very 1999 – so we don’t consider them within the test. In our test, we took our control piece of Flash-infused creative, which is statistically proven to generate a certain click through rate (CTR) and conversion percentage.

We then took the very same graphics from the text creative control and converted the text into a voiceover with a fully produced video that included music and imagery to support the brand. 75,000 unique people received the text ad and a different 75,000 unique people who also had self-identified themselves as prospects for this client received the video-based ad.

Regardless of your individual experiences, the useful shelf life of email for this particular client is roughly 4 days before the stats aren’t worth measuring. On Day 1, we saw text CTR’s edge out video by 31% and text conversions edge out video conversions by 60%.


  1. This is a fascinating test and bolsters my opinion that you can’t just put video on the web and expect something to happen. The behavioral dyanmics of the web are different from TV and so you have to reflect that. Broadband makes rich media possible, but what makes the rich media web different from TV is interactivity. Interactivty not only gets the viewer involved, as opposed to the passive TV experience, it also makes the experience more relevant and thus more valuable and compelling.


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