[This blog was originally published for Videonet http://www.v-net.tv/Blog.aspx?id=616&title=an-innovation-boost-for-interactive-advertising%5D
I left the Future TV Ads Forum in early December with mixed feelings. Firstly I was enthused to see some new ideas coming from the likes of Google/YouTube, who more than most know how the mechanics of the video advertising industry tick. On the downside, things are still muddling along, for want of a better expression, in the Connected TV world. However this latter sentiment is probably my naive/impatient consumer side showing through, rather than a pragmatic take on the state of the industry (more on that another time).
Something that really caught my eye was YouTube’s recently launched Trueview product Instream, presented by Bruce Daisley, which enables optional skipping of pre-roll ads after the first 5 seconds. Advertisers are charged only when an ad is watched through (albeit at a higher CPA).
Instream allows advertisers to get some decent metrics on what ads work where and when, excellent for soft-start campaign piloting and budgeting control generally. It seems strange now that this utterly simple idea has not come sooner; there is certainly no particular technical wizardry at work. My suspicion is that YouTube have taken some time to convince advertisers as to the value of this ‘opt-in’ policy – that viewers are not necessarily hell-bent on ad-skipping at all costs. Now, YouTube have thousands of hours worth of metrics proving the efficacy of this approach. Just focus on relevance and quality and results will come (how many times did I hear that at FTVAds?!)
A sister product (in pilot), dubbed InSlate, is more tailored to long-form content, whereby viewers can choose from a selection which ad is served pre-roll. This is similar to methods already used by Hulu for example.
Another interesting product launched recently is Panache’s publishing tool for fast forwarding an ad, whilst still getting the message across. Using a proprietary fast forward overlay button, viewers are switched over to an alternate audio and video stream. If their solution doesn’t involve the content creator/agency having to work too hard, this could gain some traction. Initial launch was for a Samsung ad on MTV networks. It’s great that we’re starting to see some solutions in this space; the industry needs an innovation boot in this area. I’m certain more will follow.
Additonally, my personal opinion is that the whole widget-bar/dock approach which Yahoo keep plugging is screen clutter, and will be remembered as another ‘how not to do it’ experiment on the long road to broadcast+broadband content harmony. But I may be wrong – how else could it be done? My preferred method of accessing catch-up – seamlessly integrating into the main EPG, can only currently be achieved by operators on bespoke platforms as far as I know. Additionally, we shouldn’t forget that there was no iPad in existence until May this year. Tablets have really shifted the field when it comes to thinking about how to split the presentation of pure content/social networking/EPG browsing functions; so much the better.
A quick point on the business/monetisation side of TV widgets; I don’t quite understand how this is going to work out in the retail device environment for advertisers who need accurate customer data; devices are splattered over all regions and demographics in a random fashion. That’s about as untargeted as it gets.
As for implementation, current devices generally perform poorly when running widgets (TVs still aren’t designed with MIPS or memory as a top priority, given the build-to-a-price nature of this market). Of course this will improve in time, but I do feel a little for consumers who have a 2010-season set and have to endure a sluggish performance – it can only lead to viewer disillusionment. How long before we see TVs aping the PC market, with a DRAM expansion slot in the back?