ADOTAS – In 2007, Wired appropriately announced that we had become a “snack culture:” Rather than being content watching long-form content, we had moved to consuming entertainment in “bite-sized morsels.” YouTube has been at the forefront of capitalizing and reinforcing this behavior, which has been one of the factors (along with increased bandwidth and higher quality of content) in leading a shift in consumption patterns of video in the digital setting. The IAB’s latest Video Suite (released last week) attempts to guide some standardization for advertising in the video category so that all parties — advertiser, publisher, consumer — has a positive experience. I see both benefits and challenges with the latest round of VAST, VPAID and VMAP:
- “Choose Your Own Adventure:” Leveraging VPAID guidelines allows markets now to embed clickable aspects to create a truly engaging experience for users (which also can include some advertising as well). Like “Interactive Hot Tub Girl,” from 2009, you can get users to spend inordinate amount of time with your brand (hint: Just don’t have them call John Stamos).
- Sequential Messaging: With the “Ad Pod” option within VAST, brands can schedule and run an ad block within video content. Similarly to how this can be done on the display side, a brand can program a series of short spots to communicate a larger product message or several individual features.
- Cross-Media Distribution: Being able serve compliant ads to mobile devices is a huge plus. The fact that you are able to combine two growing behaviors (video consumption and smartphone/tablet usage) presents more opportunities for conversion/interaction with the brand. Check out the latest Viacom research for more evidence of this.
Challenges: Like many things in life, the benefits stated above can also present major challenges for brands in today’s landscape.
- Frequency Capping: I am still in awe as to why brands don’t adopt this tactic more in negotiating deals with publishers. Because of the Snack Culture, users are consuming multiple pieces of content in short periods of time. Why, then, would you show them the same video ad five or more times in a span of 10 minutes? This creates a negative user experience and has the opposite effect in making a worthwhile case for ads in video. So, when considering “Ad Pods,” please ensure that you truly have good content to make best use of the real estate.
- Skippable Ads and Content Creation: As the option to skip content becomes more prevalent online, brands will need to start creating content with this in mind. The increase in time-shifted content on TV hasn’t had enough of an impact in changing brand behavior, so hopefully this will push us to change. Re-purposing 30-second TV commercials isn’t taking advantage of online video inventory. Develop content that is truly interesting and engaging in the first five seconds, or you will feel the wrath of the users.
- Responsive Design: The fact that users can view your video across multiple devices and platforms is awesome. Now, what experience will they have when they click or search for your brand on a mobile device? Start utilizing HTML5 for your site/landing page experiences so that the interest which your video sparked isn’t extinguished as soon as they take the next step.