5 obstacles preventing online video advertising growth

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While the online video channel continues to grow, with record numbers of people viewing video content online, TV still takes the lion's share of advertising spend and, despite proponents of the "TV is dying" camp, is growing faster than the overall ad spend.

This might seem counterintuitive, where the promise of better targetability, engagement, and measurability make online look like the more attractive investment: So why has video advertising on the web failed to grow at more rapid pace? Let's walk through some of the obstacles that online video presents... and explore possible solutions to help break through these barriers.

Online video is the new must-have feature for web content publishers. Today, it's a quick and easy way to augment the audience's experience. There's also the allure of new opportunities for monetization through advertising. But hyper-fragmented viewership presents an obstacle for buyers that require an efficient means to achieve reach and scale: The explosion of video content online is split across tens of thousands of sites.

Through remassification utilizing online video networks, it can and does deliver the big numbers, but there are still kinks to be ironed out surrounding things like transparency, player compatibility issues, and placement controls. It's also still fairly cumbersome to deploy on a site-by-site basis.

Digital veterans have made peace with this, but traditional TV media buyers still find the whole web proposition ridiculously complex. One advantage fragmentation offers is the opportunity to reach highly defined audiences on their terms, with messaging unique to their interests. But fully capitalizing on this will require marketers to develop a deeper understanding of the various channels and technologies available and how they can be used to best serve different marketing agendas. In time, continuously rising viewership will justify the effort, but not before a critical mass has been reached.

On demand vs. scheduled
The traditional and online video models are fundamentally different. Online video consumption occurs largely on demand, which means advertisers can't know exactly when and where their messages will be viewed. This presents a scary proposition for many marketers who find the same controls they have over placement on broadcast and cable TV don't translate perfectly online. Successful adoption of the video channel online requires a fundamental rethinking of how advertising is distributed.

But, the user-controlled nature of the web offers a key value add that TV cannot match, and that's earned media from real-time socialized sharing and other forms of passalong, like email, texting, blogging, etc. By investing effort into the attribution of value to digital metrics like interactions and passalongs, marketers will be better poised to treat online video in its own right, rather than as a proxy for television.



Katelyn Watson
Katelyn Watson August 26, 2011 at 12:41 PM

The article seems to be more of a "compare TV to video” article, vs a true what's holding us back…I disagree with a lot of these obstacles, as a brand marketer, it is pretty easy to run really targeted online video across a lot of very brand safe networks, and the networks take care of any compatibility issues, so that doesn't worry me either, and as you mentioned the scale is there. As for metrics, the best way to overcome this is to come up with what matters to your company - is it completed views, video starts, unique viewers? Whatever it is, use that metric, stick to it, and use it for all online video (specifically pre roll) executions so you can easily compare them. I mean, do we really have standard metrics for display yet either? We have standard nomenclature, but every company looks at different metrics – Cost per new customer, CPM, Cost per sale etc…none of which are "standard”. We don't compare direct mail to banner ads or email marketing to search, so why would we compare online video to TV? Is this just because it's easy to do, and as humans we compare things to what we know? Maybe. I do agree that TV buyers are the ones who still find this all too complex (and most all marketers who aren't online gurus), but are they the ones buying online video? I don't know. It is our job (as online marketers) to educate them. Last, you only mentioned TV in its oldest form – targeted TV where you know exactly where your ads will run….What about Google TV and web enabled TV (Roku etc) and what about mobile video &tablet platforms? All fantastic ways to get your message out using video, with the quality and better targeting than traditional TV yet still on TV. I don't even know if we can talk in terms of traditional TV anymore with all of the screens and mediums that have taken off! As for what the challenges really are (not just that online video isn't TV) I think they are more centered around a few things…1. Education to key decision makers, 2. a true video strategy for companies ie: "what do we want video to do for us” and go from there, vs "Hey we have a video, let's promote it!” 3. Internal agreed upon metrics for success, 4. sales people on the video side sometimes have a tough time making things clear to marketers on what they are really getting, they present many worlds of possibilities rather than staying focused. But hey – these are all opinions, just like the opinions in this article!