NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Evidently there's still confusion in the marketplace about what works online, particularly when it comes to video advertising. Two panels at the Ad Age Digital Conference addressed the proliferation of video across different screens and the issues marketers are still grappling with on these new platforms.
Marketers may wonder whether they should load commercials for multiple products into content watched online -- much like networks do for TV. At Hulu, the online-video sharing site owned by News Corp. and NBC Universal, that practice is frowned upon, at least for now, said Jean-Paul Colaco, senior VP-advertising sales and operations at Hulu. "My sense is that right now they are not ready for multiple ads per stream," he said of web viewers. He spoke on a panel titled "Making Money on Online Video," moderated by Vince Thompson, managing partner at Middleshift.
There is a growing sense, however, that so-called pre-roll advertising, in which marketers run video 10 to 30 seconds long before a piece of content, is not so long for the world. "We believe we can offer a better way to engage the customer and drive relevance," Mr. Colaco said.
More intriguing are video snippets that play within banner ads online, said panelists, as well as "video overlays," an ad that plays at the bottom of a screen while the selected content runs. The overlays can often be customized so they relate to the on-screen action, or connect an experience from a pre-roll through a video to a post-roll, panelists said.
Ad models are also a point of confusion and frustration in the out-of-home marketplace. "[It's] not [about] starting with a TV spot and then repurposing it," said Mark Beeching, chief creative officer at Digitas, in a panel titled "Screens, Screens Everywhere." The panel was moderated by Ad Age's Brian Steinberg. Mr. Beeching said out-of-home video media, which has evolved to include everything from health clubs to bus shelters to cinemas, is one of the most efficient media from a buying perspective. But not all the savings are being spent in the right way.
Playing for keeps
"There's an opportunity to create more content for longer-term programming," he said. "Once you've built an audience you better keep it fed."
Suzanne Alecia, president of the Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau, said part of that creative disconnect between agencies and clients can best be illustrated by credit-card marketers. Because each brand's marketing strategy is divided into three categories -- transactional, acquisition and branding -- the communication with place-based video networks becomes harder to translate.
"If these three groups don't talk to each other ... you can't get a piece of the pie," she said. "This is a category that has been extremely challenging, yet everyone goes to it right away and says, 'Isn't that a no-brainer?' That connective tissue we're all looking for is still hard to create because of the way it's set up."
For brands experimenting in the rapidly evolving digital out-of-home space, which trails only search as the fastest-growing ad category, the effects of place-based media experiences have already begun to affect their overall marketing strategies. John Harrobin, senior VP-marketing and digital media at Verizon Communications, said in some cases, the wireless company has developed entire new product lines for ringtones and video functionality to enhance its mobile devices for location-based marketing purposes.
"We know what we can add value to and what we can't," Mr. Harrobin said. "Where we add value is by extending forms of other experiences, like video on your phone, and going to enhance those that apply it. ...
This is where mobile content is ... extending the existing behavior of portable devices."