One Giant Leap for Online Video Advertising – Solidarity

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It’s recently been said that the recession is slowing the adoption of online video for marketing purposes. But it’s not really the only reason. There are many other reasons that advertisers and marketers aren’t jumping on the bandwagon and joining the online video ‘revolution.’ Here’s my quick list of what we need to do before we can expect it to gain complete widespread acceptance like other forms of marketing and advertising.

Format Wars!

One of the real problems for advertisers is that when they develop their content for online ad campaigns it must then be re-sized, re-encoded and re-formatted based on what advertising channels they are using. This is effectively creating additional cost and problems for the advertisers where they can’t simply make a single size and format and use it everywhere. Television has a unique advantage in this respect because ad units are all the same. The length (in time) might differ but the format and requirements are standardized.

In order for online video to be a viable option for advertisers on the same scale as television this is certainly going to need to be accomplished. The IAB is helping us work toward this with its online video standards suggestions and the Open Video project is also playing a major factor. The third major factor that is going to affect this is HTML 5 and the <video> tag. But more on that later.

Even if it comes down to everyone accepting creative in one format and then re-encoding it themselves to suit their ad network, I think that it’s got to be done by the ad networks. Advertisers can take a single ad and display it on any channel on television, satellite and cable. But then when they try to make the jump to online video advertising they end up having to create entirely new content and that’s a huge hurdle for them to get involved because of expense and time.

Track it All

There are as many ways that video ad tracking is done as there are ad networks online. The problem is that in order for an advertiser to determine if they think a campaign will be effective or if they should place an ad with a particular network, they must do some amazing amount of math that requires the characters from The Big Bang Theory. Spending time doing that is counter-productive and most likely a major reason for a wide variety of advertisers to only do some test campaigns or worse yet, nothing at all with a ‘wait and see’ approach.

What we need is a single, industry accepted way to determine effectiveness. Statements like ‘we have a proprietary way of tracking but we can’t tell you how it works’ only work to further segment the industry and make it look like everyone is too busy fighting amongst themselves to actually be worth investing ad dollars into.

Now I’m no Communist. I’m not saying that everyone needs to share their intellectual property and show everyone else HOW they are doing things. But, like most other forms of media for advertising there has to be a either a single way to judge effectiveness and track statistics or there has to be an extremely simple conversion for a handful of ways.

Each ad network having their own ideas of what a view is, how to determine ROI (proprietary or not), what the measure of effectiveness is, etc is only working against everyone involved. We need a completely standardized and widely accepted way that provides a cohesive and unified front to advertisers. Everyone can still differentiate their product through other innovative inclusions and proprietary ways to present it, statistical analysis and the like. But if we truly want those ad dollars to pour forth like the biblical flood, we need to grease those floodgate gears.

Every ad network has some specific, unique offering and that will always be the case. I’m not talking about making everything the same. I’m simply saying that, like labels on food, advertising on television and bread in France, there has to be a standardized something so that the advertisers know what they are getting without having to employ rocket scientists or physicists.

Content is King

Not only do we have to have standardized formats for the content but the content itself has to be of a consistent, highly professional caliber. One of our recent articles at ReelSEO talked about the auto industry and their needing to utilize a set of high production values to help pull them out of the quagmire of the economic recession. But that goes for everyone and should be obvious really.

But, how many times have you seen an advertisement online and thought ‘did they shoot that with a pocket camera and $10?’ I think even with my shoes off I’d have to borrow a few other people to tally it up. Not only the actual video shooting but the content needs to be both informative and entertaining.

Attention spans for online viewers are generally limited more than say television. Even this article has gone longer than would normally be read by many people online. So in order to keep people reading it need to be visually presented in a manner that leads the reader to continue (hence the sub-headings and relatively short paragraphs).

So from end-to-end the production of online video ads needs to maintain a certain level of quality. How is that measured? Well, it doesn’t need to be really. But if you consider the fact that your video ad might show up next to, before, after or on the same page as another video advertisement which took this into account and maintained quality throughout, wouldn’t you want yours to look as good as possible and be as entertaining and informative? I know that I would.

Maybe what we need is a series of certificates like that which is used in many other industries. A sort of mark of quality to show that the company, director, writer, video editors or whatever have shown consistent aptitude and high quality work. Some badge of excellence that is administered by an objective third party.

That’s a Wrap!

There are probably other, various factors that haven’t been included in this article and this is more like a first step for the future in my opinion.

These are more like the basics to start looking forward and move the industry in the direction we need to go. What we probably need to do is sit down together with representatives from all the players from ad networks to video sharing platforms to marketing and more. We even need to bring in the evangelists, like ReelSEO, who want the industry to succeed but aren’t tied into one small portion of it so that we can help look over the big picture and see where we think we might need some work. I would be very happy to be included and like always would be happy to give my thoughts on everything sort of like I just did.


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