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Web-based Video Advertising Is Red Hot

Rebecca Weeks
Web-based Video Advertising Is Red Hot Rebecca Weeks

Eager to learn the keys to success for converting TV viewers into Web-based video viewers, marketing executives packed like sardines into the AD:TECH San Francisco Conference session focused on leveraging interactive broadcast and broadband in today’s complicated media environment.

TV advertising has indeed provided reach and emotion, but interactive video advertising promises those two benefits plus another: metrics. All forms of Web-based video advertising, such as streaming, embedded, viral video distribution, desktop push and long-form video, are murdering the traditional 30-second spot and demanding that “time-spent” become the new ad measurement.

The state of the industry shows a positive trend in acceptance of broadband advertising -- to be exact, 39 percent of all Internet-connected households claim to use broadband. But challenges still loom for the industry’s growth. Clients seek “interactivity beyond the click-through” -- using the Internet for interactivity other than simply allowing consumers to click straight through to a particular site. Agencies, who feel an enormous amount of pressure on creatives to make advertising work harder and to be more effective, complain that they still have to bring clients up to speed on broadband’s advantages.

“When we educate clients about broadband video, we convince them first that it is similar to TV and then second that it offers more benefits than TV, such as powerful interactivity,” says Karim Sanajabi, Carat Interactive’s EVP Creative Technology.

Several panelists described their broadband solutions, how their products are being embraced in the marketplace and the attractiveness of their customers.

Personalization and positioning build TV audiences online

ESPN didn’t want people to miss out on its favorite sports highlights, so it introduced ESPN Motion, which provides free online video with no streaming or buffering built into the pages of ESPN.com. It offers four content packages a day and has a wealth of programming assets in its arsenal. Approximately 85 percent of its user base has a broadband connection, with at-work users comprising the largest segment. This group is especially hard to reach other than through the Internet.

The division is introducing personalization through two ways: user-initiated personalization (a user wants mainly football and baseball content) and implicit personalization (ESPN Motion tracks where a user spends the majority of his time). Convenience and customization is provided by allowing customers to manage their own playlists and on their own time. By monitoring how customers use the site, the company’s executives have realized that motion content could exist in tandem with static content, such as headlines, as long as it would not compete. The far right of the screen was determined to be the most ideal location for movable content.

“Users may not realize that we’re personalizing the content, but it’s financially rewarding for the company’s revenue stream,” says Ed Davis, ESPN Motion’s director and general manager. “Our site’s impressions will increase because we’re sending inventory to customers that they are far more likely to interact with and appreciate.”

ESPN Motion has positioned itself as a service that tells stories of major events. For example, this past season it offered customers :30 vignettes of a certain football player just seconds after he was drafted. Mixing original programming, such as a Fantasy show, into the site informs consumers that Motion is not just “Sportscenter” placed online.

Since ESPN Motion’s target market is made up of Web-savvy sports fanatics, its marketing team can feel confident in offering downloads and advanced products to its users without intimidating them. On Davis' agenda is continuing to enhance the user experience in order to improve the retention rate. In two weeks this will include, among other things, offering Fantasy game subscribers a “send to a friend” function attached to certain video clips. This is an attempt to leverage viral marketing’s strength in driving usage of the site.

The division not only uses development resources from both the Disney Internet Group and ESPN.com, but also collectively brainstorms with other Walt Disney unit marketing departments about which mediums to use to achieve its goals.

Davis says his team has no plan to license Motion in the near future because 100 percent of its time is allocated to improving the product versus building the customer service needed to manage the licensing process. The company is, however, spending a bit of time chopping down 30-second ads into 15-second ads and reviewing new advertising opportunities like sponsored content. He described interest in one potential application that would involve pausing a video for a brief ad or sports trivia quiz since these offerings lend themselves well to the online medium.

Broadband video is viral and “sticky”

CEO Mika Salmi was right on when he predicted his company would be “the pioneer in video advertising.” Drawing both viewers and marketers to its full-screen Internet video service, AtomFilms in 2003 served 33 million video ads that had a 9 percent average click-through rate. At the Sundance Film Festival this year, AtomFilms and Maven Networks, a broadband media software company, debuted a Hi-Def, free and advertising-supported service that enables enhanced online viewing of independent films. The Hi-Def service, which delivers three films a week to a user’s desktop, also boasts an extremely high click-through rate.

For 20th Century Fox’s request to build an interactive video Web site for “Master and Commander,” Maven Networks developed a handful of videos that included a trailer, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the director and crew. The wide selection was effective in driving “stickiness”: Browsers spent on average 15 to 20 minutes viewing video content on the site.

To satisfy another client request, this time from Virgin, Maven Networks built a viral video campaign for Ben Harper’s CD release. When the video is opened, users are prompted for the names of five friends and promised an MP3 video in return for supplying them. The campaign increased Virgin’s email database by three times and supported on-going relationship-building with customers.

So there’s proof that video ads are being embraced, but what about ads embedded in video content? As one example, MSN Video has developed an advertising marketplace around the emerging rich media platform.

Let consumers control, condense and combine

Microsoft developed MSN Video as a “bridge product” to solve clients’ need for video that acts like TV but takes advantage of IP. With goals to provide actualization, fresh reach, targeting and a solution to clutter, brands like P&G, McDonald’s, Pfizer, Revlon and Disney have been lining up at the door. MSN Video touts the demographic desirability of the broadband audience: The tech-savvy young and middle-aged adults that make up the heaviest users of streaming media are the higher-income earners that advertisers seek. But this demo also makes more demands.

“Consumers want to control, condense and combine their viewings, so we allow them to do that” says Todd Herman, MSN’s streaming media evangelist. “Already MSN Video has seen a 40 percent consumer adoption rate.”

Herman believes concurrency is advertising’s biggest change to date. MSN Video relies on an advertising model that includes 15-second video spots and stationary ads that provide links to an advertiser's Web site and other information. However, only one minute of spots is allowed for every 30 minutes of content.

Its team hasn’t had time yet to explore creative possibilities since the product was just recently launched in January. As an end-to-end communication, MSN Video will be used on Microsoft’s Portable Media Center PC.

Look for more AD:TECH coverage next week.

Rebecca Weeks, a strategic marketing executive, offers consumer businesses innovative solutions for both developing customer acquisition campaigns and strengthening existing relationships. She is known for her exceptional research, analytical and trend-spotting skills.

Can you have repeated success with one stunt?

One of the challenges that marketers face today is not only how to create a branded video campaign that goes viral, but also how to recreate that success over and over again. This can be especially difficult when it comes to stunts and events, one of the most popular creative approaches for branded video.

When a brand has success with a stunt, it is tempting to try to capitalize on it and reuse the idea or other parts of the stunt in future pieces of creative. But part of the reason that stunts and events elicit so many views is because they have an element that either surprises or amazes people enough to make it newsworthy.

If you try to repeat the same exact stunt or event more than once, it can become stale. Why will someone share a video if everyone already knows how it ends?

With that said, it's not impossible to turn a single stunt or event into something other than a one-off piece of creative or give it some longevity. 

It starts with the brand realizing that the sequel may not drive as many views as the original campaign. But in order to drive any kind of significant views, it has to find a totally new way to make the campaign newsworthy.

Red Bull knew that this new video wouldn't double the total views of "Stratos." But it did know that in order to drive any kind of views, it would have to create a reason for people to care about watching it.

Showing the jump from Baumgartner's point of view is interesting, but we all already know how it ends and have some idea of what it might look like. The smartest move that Red Bull made was waiting for the anniversary of the jump. It gave all of us a reason to revisit this event that was really a cultural touchstone of 2012.

Did it pay off? Red Bull's 7.3 million October "Stratos" views account for 3 percent of the campaign's total views. It's not an enormous uptick for the brand, but it's nothing to scoff at. And more than that, it reactivated a number of videos within the "Stratos" campaign and once again put Red Bull top of mind as the most extreme brand out there.

But Red Bull isn't the only brand in October that tried to capitalize on its 2012 stunt glory. While it didn't make the chart this month, the odds are good that we will see Pepsi MAX in November thanks to "Uncle Drew: Chapter 3."

Pepsi MAX became a viral video heavyweight last year when it released "Uncle Drew," a stunt campaign that disguised NBA Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving, as an old man and then rolled tape as he creamed a bunch of shocked young players on the basketball court. That campaign has amassed a True Reach of 49.5 million views to date. And it inspired another undercover Pepsi MAX hit, "Test Drive," starring Jeff Gordon.

Pepsi MAX proved that the undercover stunt campaign works for the brand. And most have assumed that it would premiere another stunt, starring a new athlete soon.

So it was a surprise when, at the end of October, it premiered its sequel to "Uncle Drew." Again, it stars a disguised Kyrie Irving as Uncle Drew, but this time we get to meet his friends, Lights (Nate Robinson) and Betty Lou (Maya Moore).

We all know what's going to happen in this video. All of the disguised pros are going to shock the unsuspecting basketball players. There's no surprise. And yet the True Reach growth of this new campaign is not far off of the predecessor. Sixteen days after its release, "Uncle Drew: Chapter 3" has garnered a True Reach of 5.6 million views. Sixteen days after the release of the original "Uncle Drew" video, it had garnered 7.7 million views.

How is it that this stunt is working for a second time, despite the audience knowing exactly what is going to happen? Pepsi MAX changed the headline of the campaign.

"Uncle Drew" is no longer just about the surprise of a disguised athlete. The latest spot started to develop a story around the characters of Uncle Drew, Lights, and Betty Lou that got viewers emotionally invested. And it teased the idea that more athletes would be joining them in future installments. Now the "Uncle Drew" series is about seeing what big name athletes will join the team and put on the disguise.

Will "Uncle Drew: Chapter 3" reach the same level of viewership as it predecessor? It's unlikely. But does it create a deep level of engagement with its sports-obsessed target audience? Absolutely.

Mallory Russell is content editor at Visible Measures.

iMedia's Top 10 Brands in Video chart, powered by Visible Measures, focuses on aggregated brand view counts across related social video ad campaigns. Each brand and campaign is measured on a True Reach basis, which includes viewership of both brand-syndicated and audience-driven video clips. The data are compiled using the patented Visible Measures platform, a constantly growing repository of analytic data on close to 400 million videos tracked across more than 300 online video destinations.

Note: This analysis does not include Visible Measures' paid-placement (e.g., overlays; pre-, mid-, and post-roll) performance data or video views on private sites. This chart does not include movie trailers, video game campaigns, TV show, or media network promotions. View counts are incremental by month.

Learn more here.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Each campaign has a unique benchmark for success, not a standard one

Marketers love consistency and standardization. There's nothing more standard in the digital marketing world than the click-through rate. However, in the entertainment marketing world, there is no standard benchmark for success. Every movie or TV is different, so it's unrealistic to expect that there can be a standardized way to track if one campaign strategy is doing better than the other.

Instead, entertainment marketers take a rounded, case by case approach to campaign successes. Sometimes social media is buzzing for one movie instead of website engagement. In that case, more capital and energy is funneled into social. Sometimes video is hotter than social for an upcoming TV show, so more video assets are prepared to promote the project. The nimbleness and flexibility entertainment marketers have are traits that any marketer can learn from.

Laurel Bernard and Megan Wahtera end our conversation on metrics and the click-through rate by explaining why they take a big-picture, yet nuanced, approach to adjusting campaigns.

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"Hollywood sign" via Shutterstock.


Let's start with a giant. Disney is the largest media conglomerate in the world. It's lucky enough to collaborate with academic institutions like Carnegie Mellon University as part of Disney Research -- the company's research and development division. So, the fact that it makes this list is no surprise. But what sets Disney apart is its long-standing commitment to and future investment in 3D printing. The company has been experimenting with the technology for years and plans to move forward at full steam. According to Andy Bird, the chairman of Walt Disney International, "I think every home within 10 years -- probably less than that -- will have its own 3D printer, just as many homes now have a 2D or laser printer."  

More than a year ago, Disney introduced its "D-Tech Me" experience. Using 3D scanners and printers, the company recreated the famous carbon freezing scene from "The Empire Strikes Back" by putting the likenesses of visitors onto Han Solo's body frozen in carbonite. Based on this success, during the summer of 2013, Disney created custom Stormtrooper figurines featuring fan faces. After 10 minutes with a 3D scanner, a 7.5 inch Stormtrooper replica was printed and sent to customers' homes. Sure, the $99.95 price tag seems steep, but it's a small sacrifice for serious fanatics.

But personalized figurines are only the beginning. Hop on over to Disney Research's website for a look at the future. Take, for instance, the company's foray into mechanical toys, where researchers have developed software that allows consumers to create and 3D print their own toys. Or check out Disney's "Papillon," a technology for 3D printing expressive, animated eyes on interactive characters, as displayed in the following video:


According to the brand of Scotch whisky, emerging technology and nature do mix. The brand recently enlisted a swarm of 80,000 honey bees to 3D print a bottle of whisky as part of its "3B Printing Project." Sounds crazy, right? But the craziness was so skillfully executed by Dewar's, the Sid Lee creative group, and New York ad agency The Ebeling Group that the effort deserves a spot on this list.
Here are the details: A transparent whisky bottle was created. Within the bottle, a starter blueprint of the bottle that mimicked a bee's natural environment (allowing for the collection of nectar and pollen) was placed as a template on which the insects could produce wax. Essentially, an inside-out beehive was created. The result was a "3D printed" bottle made entirely of honeycomb. Check out the following clip from the Dewar's Highlander Honey documentary:

According to Fast Company, the process took about six weeks and required two populations of bees. In addition, the Humane Society supervised the shoot to ensure the bees' safety. The campaign was launched with a 60 second trailer introducing the new whisky and the "3B" process. The entire event was broadcasted on Dewar's Facebook page as the "Live in the Hive" webstream.

How major brands use 3D printing


Although this isn't a clear-cut example of 3D printing, it demonstrates the powerful influence and possible offshoots of 3D printing for branding efforts.


Let's face it: We love ourselves. A sense of self-importance is not rare in today's world of over-sharing. When you saw Dwight Schrute receive his bobblehead on NBC's "The Office," you had to contain the envy -- admit it.

How major brands use 3D printing

But healthy levels of self-love can present golden opportunities for marketers. Take, for instance, Coca-Cola's recent venture into 3D printing to promote its new mini-sized bottles in Israel. The beverage giant and lifestyle brand, working with the GefenTeam agency, allowed customers to create virtual replicas of themselves using a mobile app.

How major brands use 3D printing


Those that took good care of their virtual selves by feeding and buying it clothing (remember Tamagotchi?) were invited to Coke's headquarters in Israel. There, using a 3D scanner and a high-resolution 3D printer, the company created "mini me" figurines made of colored sandstone. Check out the video below for a closer look:  

Not only are the mini figurines relevant to the product being launched, but they are also directly in line with Coke's overarching marketing strategy to create personal relationships with its customers. According to an article in the company's digital magazine, "Coca-Cola is moving from promoting happiness to provoking it." And nothing makes us happier than ourselves...right?


It all started with Sticky, the Google-owned company's sprinter van covered in Velcro and chock-full of high-end 3D printing equipment and hackable smartphones. As part of its "MAKEwithMOTO" tour, the company hit the road, stopping 16 times across the country to host mini "make-a-thons." During these events, Motorola met with art, design, and engineering students, as well as other makers and hackers, and provided the tools needed to innovate. Participants created things like retractable in-device headphones and a "Wink Ball" -- computer vision technology that responds to emotions and facial expressions. Here's a look at the company's first "make-a-thon":

In addition, those at the events were able to create exclusive Moto X accessories using a 3D printer. According to the Motorola team, "We have designed a set of delightful co-creation experiences for Moto X owners to make personal, one-of-a-kind gifts to complement their custom Moto X and explore the capabilities afforded by state-of-the-art 3D printing." The company helped users build accessories like NFC-enabled dog tags, tessellation bracelets, and phone covers. The dog tags, for instance, according to AndroidSPIN, are small pendants printed in 3D with the topography of wherever users consider home. By using NFC technology, the tag can launch navigation to a user's address simply by touching it to their device.

All of this personalization points to two major developments for the company: the launch of its Moto X smartphone, a mobile device consumers custom-design, and the creation of Project Ara. The latter is described as a "free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones." Here's a sneak peek at designs for Project Ara's new modular cellphones:


According to Paul Eremenko of Motorola's advanced technology and projects team, "Our goal is to drive a more thoughtful, expressive, and open relationship between users, developers, and their phones. To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it's made of, how much it costs, and how long you'll keep it." For Motorola, working with innovators and the latest 3D printing technology led to an understanding of the importance of both open relationships with consumers and personalized products. It is this mentality that is allowing Motorola to break new ground in the competitive smartphone field.


Chris Anderson, the former editor-in-chief of Wired, once said that 3D printing "will be bigger than the web," but others warn about buying in to all the hype, pointing to legal hurdles, impracticality, difficulty of use, and high prices. The point of this article is not to convince you to jump on the 3D printing bandwagon but to highlight the importance of thinking about the role of 3D printing in your marketing mix. I think Andrew McAfee, a principal research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, when asked if 3D printing would live up to its hype by The Wall Street Journal, said it best:

"I think [3D printing] will lead to a great deal of innovation because it puts powerful fabrication technologies in the hands of many people. You no longer need to have a milling machine or mold-making technology in order to make a part, and you don't need to meet any minimum order sizes. It's almost as cost-effective to print out one part as 100. Because of these changes in access and economics we're going to see a lot more prototyping, tinkering, experimentation, and other aspects of what MIT's Eric von Hippel calls 'lead-user innovation.'"

If 3D printing continues its rapid growth, marketers must learn to let go by handing over the reins to these "lead-users," and 3D printing is the perfect vehicle for this. Who knows more about what consumers want than consumers? And by giving creative consumers more control over brand creations, companies will find more relevant solutions to consumer needs while opening the floodgates for consumer innovation. If brands are able to provide the tools for their customers to innovate (like many of the brands listed above), they will be seen as partners in the innovation process and thus develop more personal relationships with their customers. Through the construction of one-of-a-kind products, 3D printing provides a unique opportunity to strengthen the link between consumer and brand.

At the moment, buyers of 3D printers are mainly makers and hobbyists, as opposed to your average consumer. According to Gartner, these makers and hobbyists will contribute to the creation of 3D printing "killer apps," which will drive sales in the future. As Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner, said, "We expect that a compelling consumer application -- something that can only be created at home on a 3D printer -- will hit the scene by 2016." As a marketer, it's important to think about how your brand can become an integral part of the 3D printing process before it's left in the dust.

But please, always remember to 3D print with caution (Warning: NSFW language).

Kyle Montero is associate editor of iMedia Connection.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"3D printer" image via Digital Trends.


to leave comments.

Commenter: Vinod Tonangi

2009, October 08

Video is definitely changing the way people think about advertising on the internet. Radio, & Newspaper are quickly falling by the wayside. The combination of local television and online video advertising is quickly becoming the winning combination for small businesses.

Check out a blog post directly related to this topic: http://blog.tonangi.com/journal/2009/9/24/radio-newspaper-tv-internet-oh-my.html

Commenter: Brett Hill

2008, April 10

Rebecca, I think you article is spot on! Being the owner of a new Video Advertising Directory, I have done my research and know there is going to be a big push of advertising to the Internet.I just got done commenting on a well known bloggers site who was very persimistic about content producers making any money. I thnk the market is wide open and their are many opporttunites for small businesses around the world to finally get their message out there in motion. It's far less expensive for them to create video ads--put them on their websites, launch PPC campaigns and/or post them with their business profiles to Video Ad Directories.TV Ad's are often cost prohibitive for most of the 25 million small businesses across Amercia. Put together a funny, viral or emotional video ad that showcases your products and services and the Internet world's your oyster.Let's face it, with the advancements of broadband video, the opportunities are endless. Like anything else, it is still work for a business owner to go out and create their video ad. That's why there are now companies out there like www.animoto.com giving people low cost--quick to Advertise options.Of course the ohter half is where will the content be placed? Obviously I believe the less intrusive opportunity is a video ad directory. People won't be using these to see commercials--they will transform their shopping habits with the new ability to make more informed shopping decisions.Banner Ads worked all these years--Video Ad's will soon become the business owners best means of getting their message and branding out to the world.