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.

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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.

  • TheMarketingIntern


    Apology accepted, and one sent in return.

    I understand your point, though I disagree that advertisers aren't that interested in trying out new ad formats. I guess it depends on who you talk to.

    I'm also not convinced it will take until 2011 for technology to mature to the point where generating and buying ads becomes fluid. From what I'm seeing, those capabilities could be implemented by December. Whether they will be is another question entirely, of course.

    "Tude" is gone, but the moniker stays. Say what you want about it's implications, but you remembered it, didn't you? ;-)

  • A_video_guy

    OK you guys are right. I am sorry for the tone MarketingIntern it’s just that your moniker implies that you are new to advertising, video and business in general and your posts come across as a newbie telling the old guard how to run their business. Maybe you should ask your basic questions elsewhere for posting with the "tude" on an open forum opens you to assault.

    Costs are not the prohibitive factor in online video ad growth. It’s the technical difficulty of creating and flighting a plan (you may choose to quantify that pain but its not the industries problem). With each Publisher using a slightly different solution the difficulty of buying and fighting ads is more trouble than its worth for most buyers. Combine the fact that most agencies still (and will for a while) keep their broadcast (video) separate from their Digital buys and divisions. So the internal politics come into play a lot with the big $ branded advertisers and how they spend their budgets.

    As the technology matures (both ad serving and video codecs and formats) the difficulty of buying Video ads will decrease. This will allow the buyers to buy across the web with greater efficiency and ease. Until that time comes (2010-11) we’re at the mercy of those leading edge advertisers and the few companies who have creating the ad delivery technology and mechanisms for serving video ads. Publishers are VERY cautious about trying new in-video ad formats and advertisers are just not that interested.

    Of course the ad units will evolve. Its advertising! They will shift and morph into a multitude of creative formats many of which will work and many will not. If you want to study a comparison look at the whole “Rich Media” market. Look close at the companies that rose up to help the advertisers create, traffic and track “Rich Media”. You’ll see some important correlations between that market and Video.

    My advice is to lose the moniker and the “tude” . There is a lot to learn here and there are countless people who have years of experience working on removing the hurdles. One thing is for sure: It won’t happen fast. Nothing big ever does. So be patient and put yourself into a position to benefit from the impending boom. Its coming.

  • A_video_guy

    Of course its going to evolve, its the web! That is why your points are silly . Innovation and the web are synonymous. If there is a way to make $ on the web someone will figure it out and if its a success other will copy. I am not sure you are even making a point or just expressing your naivete towards 15 years of online evolution.

    Thanks for playing!

    • TheMarketingIntern

      Maybe you can help me understand a little better, then, O Great and Powerful A_video_guy.

      I said: "Advertisers see cost as prohibitive, and that's a good thing, because it drives innovation."
      You said: "No, high costs are bad because the point of business is to make money."
      I said: "Right, but these high costs are temporary, the smart few will figure out a way to lower them."
      You said: ...Well, you said the same thing I said, but only in a condescending way, and called me naive at the end of it.

      So is the prohibitive cost of Web video a good thing or a bad thing in the long term, in your (obviously very confused) view? Are you just pissed because the pre-rolls you put on YouTube keep getting skipped?

      • Mark Robertson

        haha... Not to be biased here - but A_video_guy - you are getting a bit mean ;-) Cant we all just get along?

    • Mark Robertson

      [youtube QvhNzXXi-6A youtube]

  • A_video_guy

    Hey Marketing Intern,

    Sorry to pop your bubble but that is not a desired outcome. To restrict the ability for advertisers to "reach" into web video is not a good thing. Now I realize that you're new to this whole business things being an intern, but the only, ONLY reason companies exist is to make money . The harder it is to make money the the harder it will be to employ a $10 an hour intern and to offer content and services to your visitors/viewers. So chalk this up as a lesson and learn to play the game. Its a pretty well defined game.

    • TheMarketingIntern

      Who's saying that companies shouldn't be allowed to make money? You're pushing profit, and I'm pushing innovation, which drives profit. If you want the same boring, relatively untargeted ads on your computer that you can see on your television, then that's fine. For your sake, though, I hope you don't work for that ad agency, because there are better alternatives.

      Look, am I saying that it should be expensive to create video content? Of course not. But everyone in this forum recognizes the fact that online video marketing is in a juvenile stage, so of course it's going to be expensive. It will take innovation to reduce the expense of creating online video content, and to increase its effectiveness - those innovations are happening constantly, and as a result Web video is getting cheaper to produce. If there is a preventative cost associated with it, then we as marketers (and those $10/hr interns; I wish I was so lucky) must find creative ways to reduce the cost. And if you're not playing that game, then we're not even in the same ballpark.

  • TheMarketingIntern

    Chris, you wrote:

    "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."

    Isn't that exactly as it should be? TV ads do not necessarily good Web ads make. I'm happy to see major advertisers scratch their heads as they try to make sense of the "whole Internet thing," because it means that the money is going to the guys who get it. Advertising as we know it has to be completely revamped to fit the Instant Age, ere the vox populi starts shouting too loudly. Those "hurdles", as you've described them, are necessary barriers to a realm replete with opportunity for the innovative few who are brave enough to venture within. And I, for one, cannot wait for the venturing to begin.