The Need For a New Online Video Ad Model…

If the media establishment wants a new revenue stream, then why is everyone treating advertising within online video as if it were TV?

We all know that the potential of video on the internet is huge. The idea of on-demand content that you can control and participate in is a big change from the linear television experience we have all grown up with. It is so different that it requires a better way to integrate the sponsor messages within the programming. For one thing, we trust it more than we do TV. The influence of User Generated Content drives the authentic nature of online content. This needs to be protected in order for it to continue to grow. Most of the content online is pretty short which ends up giving a disproportionate amount of time to the sponsor. Is there even time for a commercial? Not to mention the fact that skipping Pre, Mid and Post-Roll advertising will be as easy as skipping the commercials on TV with a DVR. Every PC is in fact a DVR, and scripts are being written to allow us to do that as we speak.

We also have access to much more content. We like to search for it. It takes work. We are rewarded when we find what we are looking for and we don’t want to sit through a commercial – especially if there are dozens of pages filled with similarly competitive content at our fingertips – get it?

So what do we do? Isn’t it obvious? Integration.

Integrate our sponsor messages within the programming. Involve them. From an executional standpoint this can take place via titles, product placement opportunities or announcements. These are all pretty standard fare, but better than ‘spots’. To take this a step farther, the agencies need to start thinking about producing programming on an ongoing basis rather than one-off spots tied to linear media buys. It takes time to build an audience.

How about creating an online creative marketplace to match producers directly to advertisers similar to eBay? Not one that simply matches advertising inventory against a brand’s media spend in order to place a commercial, but a marketplace that matches brands with content creators in order to allow the content creators to integrate the brand in a way that works authentically within the programming. Sure, there will have to be an element of trust. Brands have corporate ID manuals and logo guidelines for that. And trust works. Look at eBay. If someone would have told you that people would be trading with strangers online for thousands of dollars a whole world away a few years back, would you have believed it? Lets put the people with the money (the brands) in direct contact with the creators. Everyone will win. The brand gains an authentic connection with the consumer. The consumer gets high quality content without the annoyance of a commercial.

And what about no-risk media models for the sponsors. Why should a brand buy media based upon a promise of what was or what could be. What if they only pay AFTER content is viewed. Brand should pay based on what is actually viewed via pre-set thresholds with bonus levels built in to incentivise content creators. Create crappy programming and you don’t get paid beyond the production. Once again, everyone wins. The brand only pays media fees if the content they are associated with is a hit. The creators and online gatekeepers get rewarded for exceptional programming with successful content integration and promotion.

I’m not sure where this leaves the advertising agencies unless they evolve part of their offering into an entertainment model. They may be able to play the part of agents representing the creative talent that will deliver for the brands, but Hollywood may do a better job of that just as Michael Ovitz started with CAA over a decade ago. Hollywood may end up being the new Madison Avenue. The agencies can only protect their client relationships for so long. Media is one place they can participate and help their clients to navigate. Look at how Ajax technology is threatening the very way in which precious page views are measured.

Even with the criticism against eBay’s recent foray into the creation of a Media marketplace – this will be a mere hiccup along the way. Once sophistication is built in along the lines of organic content creation and brand integration, you won’t be able to stop the growth.

Despite this, the idea of media exchanges is gaining momentum. So what’s with trying to figure out the Pre-Roll, Mid-Roll, Post-Roll strategy? There shouldn’t be one. Get rid of them. THIS IS NOT TV! This is another medium folks. The sooner we all understand that, the better off we will all be and the faster the new revenue streams will fall into place.

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