A little over a year ago I posed the question of "" from an agency perspective, traditional or digital? Renetta McCann was one of the first to challenge digital agencies by stating, "The Starcom MediaVest division charged with buying ad time used to be called the broadcast investment group; today it's the video investment group. … We didn't want to limit how we view the market… We see a world populated by video screens, not just TV screens, but screens on phones, computers and even screens in elevators and cabs."
This was a powerful signal that agencies had begun the long-awaited shift away from broadcast TV-driven video to other platforms that could become mainstream advertising vehicles. But it also brought up the issue of whether traditional agencies could stake the advertising ground in digital video platforms. Let's face it, traditional shops know how to slap a 15- or 30-second spot in the front, middle and the back of rich video content, but they never stray too far from that strategy.
State of pre-roll?
In the last year we've learned that although pre-roll is an opportunity and works nicely in some cases, it definitely shouldn't be the stand-alone option or video advertising model moving forward. Pre-roll was a great beginning to online video advertising, but in the interactive space we live in, it's not necessary to be overly invasive in order to provide a marketing message.
Even the largest video channels on the web agree. "We think there are better ways for people to engage with brands than forcing them to watch a commercial before seeing content," says Chad Hurley, YouTube's CEO. "You could ask anyone on the net if they enjoy that experience and they'd probably say no."
Separately, Tremor and Brightcove recently announced plans to begin addressing issues facing the digital video advertising industry as part of the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Digital Video Committee, including measurement, standards and best practices. As a first step toward this goal, all ads sold under the new agreement will be 15 seconds or less in duration. Other areas of focus will include frequency and rotation management of ad creative.
Bringing alternatives to video
The automotive vertical in particular is providing quality online video advertising opportunities beyond pre-roll. These developments move away from traditional linear video and evasive pre-roll content into complete consumer empowerment through interactivity. Video is now working harder for the marketer while concurrently enhancing the user experience with brands both inside and out of the video itself. Here are several examples:
Road & Track/Brightcove. Road & Track sends a writer, photographer and film producer on location in order to build this "pure for web" immersive content. The portal, powered by Brightcove, allows three and/or advertising opportunities: pre-roll, 300x250 and a "featured video" sponsorship.
Vehix Video Buying Guides. These are the first interactive video buying guides for the auto category -- co-produced under partnership with J.D. Power and Associates -- which feature 30 minutes of proprietary content on key automotive topics. Consumers control the viewing experience by selecting individual chapters, topics and advertisements they want to see on their terms. The flash overlay technology developed by Vimation includes a pre-loader graphic, companion bug and extensive video-within-video.
Vimation/Lincoln Lounge. This gives consumers the opportunity to dive into a 30-second spot, and for Lincoln it provides for a nice continuation of its overall branding efforts. It also gives consumers a great deal of insight through commentaries from the directors, actors and musicians, as well as the stories behind the film locations. Multiple videos and video-within-video give a behind-the-scenes look at the commercial, giving consumers the opportunity to get additional relevant information way beyond what a typical 30-second branding spot can provide.
DriverTV. DriverTV is an automotive destination that prides itself on bringing the showroom to your living room. Available through video-on-demand systems, it provides high quality video and visual tools and allows for "branded content" video channels, a 160x600 companion and a pre-load full-screen interstitial. DriverTV and Comcast are well positioned to parlay this content into VOD environments and ultimately iTV in the near future.
Car & Driver's Virtual Test Drive. (or select any of the three on this page). This manufacturer-sponsored area sets out to provide immersive "ride along" videos on some of today's newest cars and trucks. Consumers are able to explore new vehicles, both inside and out, while Car & Driver editors go along for a test drive with noted race driver Tommy Kendall behind the wheel. While no obvious ad units are provided, the user is engaged with the brand during a real-life test drive environment and is provided with interior/exterior features and specs.
So does anyone own video yet?
All signs are pointing to digital media leading the online video and emerging platforms strategy and vision moving forward. The digital space is known for always changing and that includes ad units… tirelessly trying to innovate and progress. The next 12 months will be exciting to see what automotive video advertising brings and how we continue to deliver a truly immersive experience addressing both the emotional and analytical sides of the car-buying process.
Chad M. Beasley is vice president of west coast sales and creative development at Jumpstart Automotive Media. .