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SES San Jose: The Next Wave for Online Video

Posted on Aug 19th, 2008
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    Pre Roll ad on NBC

    Online video has seen a surge in popularity over the past few years. What started out as simple user-generated content (UGC) has become a medium for everyone from the rich and famous to the video blogger next door. It is no surprise that marketers were quick to recognize this trend and capitalize on the success of viral videos in order to reach out to consumers. Yet online video marketing is almost as varied and complex as the ranting of LonelyGirl15. This session examines these complexities and how they relate to marketers. Moderator Rebecca Lieb, contributing editor at ClickZ, led a panel of three Online Video gurus as they discussed the viral video phenomenon, its causes and its future.

    Jason Glickman drew on his experience as CEO at Tremor Media to give us an overview of different ways marketers can capitalize on the online video trend. He discussed the two most popular forms of overt online video advertising:

    • Pre-Roll The video content that runs before the organic content of an online video plays. They are often the same as, or very similar to, traditional television commercials.
    • Overlays Graphics that lay over the content of an online video as it plays. They generally sit along the bottom or side of the screen.

    According to Jason, Pre-Roll is the stable of digital video buying, and is where TV dollars are shifting to in the online sector. Yet the majority of consumers have a negative perception of Pre-Roll and are less likely to frequent video sites in which pre-roll regularly appears. Jason recommended advertisers be conscious of this and tailor their pre-roll to prospective customers. In particular, he claims the length of a pre-roll should be proportionate to the length of the online video.

    Overlays are different in that, according to best-practices, they can be collapsed by viewers. Jason says overlays are a moderately effective form of online advertising, as they help to monetize the long tail of content.

    Jason highlighted three trends in online video that marketers need to be aware of:

    • AdverContent We’ve already seen this trend in action with videos like Dove’s “Evolution,” in which although the video is essentially advertising, the content is rich and of interest to consumers. Jason described AdverContent as “a way to keep content and the ad very pure; users are very interested in the ad content itself.”
    • Advanced Targeting There are several ways to target a group on a more advanced level. Jason highlighted contextual targeting, in which the ad is specifically chosen to complement video content, local targeting, and real-time demographic targeting.
    • Industry Standards According to Jason, standards in online video marketing have been “wild wild west” until recently, with no standardized format, reporting or metrics. In order for online video ads to be accepted by consumers, a set of industry-recognized standards needs to be in place in order to reduce discrepancies.

    After Jason spoke, Dr. Pete Knocks of Truveo and AOL Video gave his views on online video ads as they relate to video search.

    “The way users interact in video search is more of a search and browse mentality, whereas in regular search it is more of a search and refine mentality,” Pete said.

    He went on to explain this further, saying users will enter multiple search terms to refine regular search, but in video are more likely to enter one search term and then immediately begin to browse through the results. This has huge implications for marketers, as it indicates that Meta data must compete with other factors, such as the thumbnail image, length of video and how often a video has been viewed in order to attract viewers.

    As a result of video searcher behavior, Pete recommends marketers focus on high level, behavioral targeting.

    Bob Bahramipour, VP of Ad Operations at YuMe, rounded out the session with his take on the four high-level trends in video and content across the web.

    • Publisher Fragmentation Bob represented the fragmentation of video publishers with a three-tiered pyramid. At the top are ‘highbrow’ content publishers like NBC, in the middle are portals like Yahoo and independent content publishers such as Monod, and at the bottom are sites like YouTube, and general publishers of user-generated content. Bob sees a lot of potential for marketers in the second tier, as advertisers may have an easier time breaking in to that tier.
    • Content Syndication Video now has multiple outlets thanks to the Internet, in the form of widgets, third party video sites, blogs and more. This works well with the fragmentation of today’s audiences. Content can exist at all stages of the publisher pyramid, and can be syndicated throughout. Bob cited Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog as an example of tier-two content that was syndicated in tier-one.
    • Cross-Device Consumption Online videos can be viewed on a variety of devices, from the website on which it lives, to Windows Media Center to mobile phones. Bob highlights the importance of the different experience consumers can have with an online video depending on which device they view it with.
    • Ad Format Proliferation Bob recommends marketers choose an ad format that makes sense with the type of content in an online video, and where the video is hosted. He also points out the emergence of combinations of traditional online video ads, such as pre-roll combined with overlays.

    Bob finished his segment with some insight as to what makes a ‘winning’ online video.

    “It’s the text search engine that brings visitors to the site, and then how they merchandise the content on the site determines which content wins and which content loses,” he observed. While text search is certainly relative to finding online videos, many other factors contribute to the number of views a video receives.

    The three presenters in this segment gave good insight into the direction of online video advertising. Each expert drew on his own specific view of online video and how it works with relation to consumers, content and search in order to be an effective tool for marketers. While all panelists had their own unique take, they all agreed on the importance of an online video ad being relevant to targeted consumers and working with, rather than detracting from, online video content.

    Stay current with the SES San Jose conference by checking in regularly with the TopRank Online Marketing Blog, and view more photos from the TopRank Team at TopRank on Flickr.