November 22, 2006 4:00 AM PST

Ads 2.0: Beyond the repurposed TV spot

If nothing else, Google's $1.65 billion acquisition of video-sharing site YouTube illustrates how hot the online video market is.

As more and more people watch video on the Internet, Web sites are increasingly placing ads with video. Often, it's their only source of revenue.

So far, the ads aren't much different from your typical television ad. But experts say that will change soon as advertisers become more Web-savvy. And change they must, some argue, unless advertisers want to drive Web surfers away and threaten the lucrative online ad market.

What types of online video ads are out there now?
The two main kinds are so-called in-stream ads and in-banner ads. With in-banner ads, the video either starts playing when a Web surfer arrives at the page (which is called host-initiated), or when the surfer moves the curser over a static ad or clicks on it, also referred to as viewer-initiated.

With in-stream advertisements the ad can play before the video clip plays, a placement known as pre-roll; after the video clip plays, called post-roll; or somewhere in the middle of the video clip, known as a mid-roll or interstitial ad. Most ads are pre-roll. Video ads are typically 15 seconds or 30 seconds in length.

Are there any online video ad guidelines?
The Interactive Advertising Bureau has guidelines, including stipulating that the content "may include streaming video, animation and gaming in an interactive environment." The trade group also recommends that pre-roll and mid-roll ads be no longer than 30 seconds and sets no limits on post-roll ads.

However, many ad experts say 30 seconds is too long, particularly for video clips that are often a minute or two in length. "When I want to access one and a half minutes of content and I'm forced to watch a 30-second ad beforehand, it's intolerable," said Tim Hanlon, senior vice president of Denuo, the consulting arm of the advertising agency Publicis Groupe. "It doesn't seem like a fair ratio."

Pam Horan, president of the Online Publishers Association, added: "The point at which a consumer has patience for an online video ad is 10 seconds."

The IAB also recommends host-initiated play, with controls to let the viewer stop and start the video ad and raise or lower the volume. The IAB guidelines recommend disabling any fast-forward option, meaning viewers have to watch the video ad in its entirety before seeing their desired video clip. That's another unpopular aspect. "The inability to skip through those ads, you feel like you're being held hostage," said Hanlon.

What do the video ads look like and do they work?
Unfortunately, they mostly look like television commercials. "Replicating television online doesn't work," Hanlon said. And the ads are repeated too often because of a limited amount of online video ad space, he said.

The video ads need to be more targeted and more interactive, experts agree. "What's out there isn't leveraging the interactivity of the medium," said Sheryl Draizen, senior vice president and general manager of the IAB. "The beauty of being online is your ability to create dimensions to your advertising, to go deeper." For example, a Web surfer could get additional information on the product advertised, communicate with the merchant or participate in a survey, all by clicking on the ad or a "hot spot" area in the ad that has a link to another Web page, experts say.

See more CNET content tagged:
video advertisement, online video, Web surfer, video clip, guideline


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No subs/closed captioned available.
The biggest headache about online streaming video is that it isn't subtitled/closed captioned for the hearing impaired. Since the law doesn't require it (Yet, it's being worked on!), advertisers or hosts seem to want to ignore a growing percentage of their market, since hearing problems are on the rise. Figures. Well, at least it's easier to ignore the ads this way! *grin*
Posted by randymi (1 comment )
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Totally agree
I remember when I first complained to Netscape in 1997 or 87 about popup windows.They haughtily told me they had to make money and slammed the phone down.

Unless something is done quickly about the ads on the videos then some sensing device will come along. I'll be the first to purchase it or I will continue what I'm doing - click the video off at the first inkling of a commercial. Period. At my age there is nothing out there that I have to see.
Posted by rchappell (1 comment )
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Less is more
I don't understand the relunctance to go much shorter with ads. Attention spans are so small; an impression only takes a couple of seconds.

Why not go down to a five second pre-roll ad for all videos less than 90 seconds? Five seconds is a lot of time to do something slick if the logo/brand is prominent the whole time. Sinec it's so short, no one will look for ways to get around it.

Posted by jg867 (3 comments )
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Needs to balanced
On TV, you watch 90-120 seconds of commercials for 10 minutes of content.

On the web, you can easily watch 5-6 minutes of ads for the same amount of content and that doesn't include all the peripheral ads that usually surround the content.

At least the major sites are starting to realize this.
Posted by adlyb1 (123 comments )
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Thinking Outside the TV Box
With the Ultramercial patents pending business model, video providers can grant access to any and all video clips for 15 minutes (or however long feels appropriate) after one ad. When the 15 minutes expire, viewers are asked to watch another ad to "earn" access again. It's an explicit value exchange - your attention for content. The viewer is respected and is in control of the advertising while the limits of a linear TV model are lifted.

The viewers attention has to be recognized as the value in all advertising and be rewarded. Advertising pays for and is the reason we have access to almost all content. Yet the advertiser's return for graciously paying for us? Standards that limit commercial length, required skip buttons, disgruntled viewers who will do anything to avoid the ad.

Ultramercial turns this around 180 degrees and asks the viewer to make the choice: pay for the content with a minute of your time OR pull out your wallet like you would with HBO.

Ultramercial has been running this model with ads that last 54 seconds on average for over four years at Salon, Economist, Virgin Mobile, WildTangent and ABC. They receive the highest click through rates in the industry at 7% on average and 75% of all ads are completed start to finish. Each ad is full-screen, with two-way interactivity driving relevant product information to the viewer.

Behavioral targeting adds tremendous value to any campaign. But the key to marketing is building a brand and reputation to drive purchase intent through engagement and time spent. That's hard to do if everybody is blocking, skipping or ignoring your ad.

If you don't ask for the viewer's attention, you'll seldom get it.

Paul Grusche
Posted by groosh33 (4 comments )
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Ads on Portable Devices...
like Zune, and cell phones, is where the future action will be.

Gene from
Posted by ZuneChannel (17 comments )
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I don't want them, I don't need them
It's bad enough that inside and out of my own home, I'm constantly over-saturated with adds for the latest gimmic I just gotta have or I won't be cool like the other kids.

I want to see more white space, not more ingenious advertising paluting my website viewing experience.

I swear, if I need your fandangled product, I'll look in the appropriate stores or checkout your companies website product specs area.

Here are a couple of the joys imposed on me daily:

- TV/Radio (normal audible volume Ad spots). I'll concede these as they've been based on Ad funded business models since long before I was around.

- TV channel providers who broadcast the show at one volume and the comercials at several magnitudes of that volume. Because I need to watch a show with barely audible volume then wake everyone in the house when the comercial for feminin hygene products blasts out the speaker (CityTV comes to mind). More and More I'm watching my prefered TV shows on DVD by total season without Ads. I swear I'm not in the kitchen out of ear shot, I'm on a different channel watching the content while you waste my time with Ad spots on your channel.

- The walk to work includes three too four huge video screens blasting nothing but advertising spots. And that's on any inch of street side building space that can afford more than a static banner display. Because we should have to look at plain old architecture when we could mask building in Ad lepper spots.

- Anything online. Ads, Ads, Ads everywhere. Some sites keep the balance, enough adds to support a modest income while other sites go overboard with banners, popups and (now) video all of which I have to pay for by way of the bandwidth they take away from valid network transfers. (CNet, your close to saturation but that's the opinion of a humble viewer with nothing to gain monetarily)

- Phone Spam (cold calls) one landline and now increasingly on cell phones. On my landline, you waste my time and the call center staff's time. On my cellphone, you waste my time and your call centers AND I get to pay for the minutes it takes to get your call center off the phone (lovely script you've written for them by the way). If I want you service or product, I'll find you. That's what physical locations and well designed business presence websites are for.

You can be sure that imposing advertising on me through TV/Radio radio spots, Telephone Spam, Billboards/video screens (public spamming), email spamming and (when it comes) txt spamming outside of a valid location (your a tech company, your website will have tech specs and adds, your an online retailer, your website will have product adds and this is valid) rather than wherever you can polute my senses will convince me to review and consider your competitions product with a heck of alot more interest than yours.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
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