Gone are the day of just simply putting video online for fun (for the majority of us). Now it's all about earning revenue or utilizing the video to push a product/brand. Sure it's still in its infancy and we've got a lot of issues to resolve before it becomes totally mainstream, but just consider it like a 'beta test,' at least for now.
YouTube is still by far the leader in online video sharing and even they are just managing to drop in realistic monetization channels with new ads for some users and the call-to-action overlay. This after more than four years in operation. The problem is that for every good online video campaign there has been, a half dozen or more bad ones have been done.
As more people get bigger pipelines and pay less for their bandwidth, there's no reason not to predict that online video will continue to grow right along with it. Add in the fact that mobile phone companies are starting to offer flat rate data plans and you've not only got the stationary market to think about but the handheld, on-the-go consumers as well.
If the industry continues to see growth as it has recently (11% last year alone), new companies will begin to market their brands via online video. But it's up to us, who already exist in the space, to not only make the room for these newcomers but welcome them with open arms. We need to help continue the shift to online video which accounted for a mere 6% of all advertising last year in the US (~$303 Billion) while TV chalked up a healthy 22%.
The problem is that many advertisers still see no need to create online specific video and instead just bring over stuff from TV. That's already been proven to not be a sound marketing tactic in the online space. Online, people are finicky and have short attention spans, that's why we try to keep our articles short and broken into short paragraphs. They react very differently than they would normally to the TV advertising format.
While users are tolerant of pre-roll ads to get to the video they want to see they also don't want those ads to be a major portion of the viewing time. If an average video online is from 7 to 11 minutes then a one minute pre-roll is certainly going to make them look elsewhere for that video.
It's as much about interactivity as it is about balance though. With call-to-action overlays and buy now links, revenue can be increased so long as these tools are used wisely. Other services have also come online that are trying to leverage the buying power of the online video viewership. Viddler sells tags so when the tag you think is relevant to your product becomes relevant to the video, the ad shows up. Myspace started working with Autitude which is hooked into MTV Networks and puts a branded overlay on any video clips that are from MTV programs.
Storybids is giving product placement a whole new meaning. By identifying certain products in online videos (and soon standard television) they are able to create 'more info' buttons that can not only be used to find out more about the specific product but also could be used to jump out to a sales page where viewers might buy the product.
Interactivity is what is going to set online video apart from television. Sure with TV you can time-shift, but online you can time-shift along with a dozen other things that could help lead consumers down the path to purchasing and that is, after all, the goal...return on investment and retail sales or brand awareness impact.