Archive for the ‘Video’ Category
Pre-roll was a bad idea from the start. It was lazy traditional thinking encroaching on an innovative medium. Here’s why.
Online pre-roll video is dead. Okay, maybe not dead, but it has checked into a roach motel. Wow, did we screw this one up. All of us. I have received a lot of calls lately from media properties talking about all the extra inventory they have for pre-roll. And the prices dropped again! Wow, isn’t that great? I’m reminded of something a friend told me once when we saw a sales sign in a shop window: “2 for 1 Suits.” He said: “If they really wanted to screw you, they’d give you three of them.”
You see, it’s not just about the cost. So what happened? Numerous things, but they boil down to five points:
1. How the client end is managing the buy
2. How it is measured
3. Ad content
4. Ad content plasticity
5. Consumer tolerance
Now, you may be sitting there reading this and thinking I’m insane and that your programs are great, but I’ll just tackle those points and let you make up your own mind. Oh hell, no I won’t, I’m right, just listen. I can sum up all five points easily.
Who is managing
A lot of companies made their initial foray into pre-roll through the traditional side of their business; their offline agency trying to encroach on digital. They had the commercial assets and weren’t giving them up easily. “Hey, we can use the television commercial and just put it in front of content online.” Done.
How it’s measured
How are you going to measure it? “Oh, it’s about branding.” Pa-lease. As I’ve said before, if you are not going to measure, and it exists online, don’t do it. At least measure the branding impact if you’re going to use that cop-out. Dynamic Logic, ever heard of it? And if not that, then Insight Express? Cookie viewers and measure post-view to your site over a week, and then pop your own survey to those that were cookied — ’cause trust me, if they didn’t come within a week, it didn’t do your brand any good. And that’s where the shift happened. The buys shifted to those who were controlling the online media plan — the ROI side of things. Once you remove the “branding” escape clause, for many people it just didn’t make sense.
Let’s face it, the ad content sucked. And for the most part, it never got better. Developing web-specific video content is still expensive. Agencies haven’t figured out how to do guerilla production, and they charge too much. The time frames take longer to create, and then you have SAG or some other rights agency sucking out more of the budget. It’s fine when you’re spending millions in TV but absolutely nightmarish for online. Unless it is going to be a massive ongoing effort, the cost benefit analysis just doesn’t work. So what do you? You slap that 15-second spot up and call it a day.
Ad content plasticity
Huh? Did I make that up? Uhhh…. yup. But it sounds important, doesn’t it? The reason why television commercials work is because content is standardized from ad-to-show length. Online? You actively choose a piece of content you want to get and blam! Commercial. That 15-second pre-roll had three delays in it. Fetching it, inserting it and the gap before content. Result? You first waited 40 seconds before your one minute piece of content. The technology just, well, sucks. What do we need? A way to dynamically adjust your spot to varying lengths. That is what I mean by ad content plasticity. We need to be able to create a 30-second spot that can end at any point, still communicate what we need and then have the serving systems dynamically adjust. It’s just that the “creatives” in offline don’t think that way.
Look, there’s someone in this equation who is not the agency, or the client, or the vendor. Remember them? The person that actually uses your product? We create standards, but it’s all a bunch of ego stroking. Those standards are created by people in our industry, for our own benefit. They try to act in the best interest of the consumer but are fearful of the power of those it affects. The 15-second pre-roll? Oh, come on! For pre-roll, I say five seconds. That’s about all someone will tolerate, and you better give it to them in five seconds. Then figure out a way to do mid-roll so the consumer is getting the content they want first. Oh yeah, I forgot, our wonderful MPEG-4 standard would have to be re-encoded if we split it. Yup, again, technology preventing us from doing what is in the best interest of the consumer.
So what do you do?
If you are client-side running these programs, and you do measure correctly, and it’s working, don’t stop. But if you want to spend money in online video, just use your commercials and have the best impact — try NBC Rewind. Immersive, long-form content wrapped with your brand, with the dual effect of commercials, banner exposure and persistence of ad exposure throughout. Now, that you can measure.
If you’re on the agency side, figure out a way to get your creatives to think about it differently, and find a solution to ad content creation to make it more efficient. Don’t present ideas that are going to have us shell out fees in perpetuity to some union.
If you’re on the publisher side, ScanScout has a very promising technology that solves many of the issues I mentioned above. Check it out. And no, I don’t own stock, and I don’t work for them. As with NBC Rewind, I call it like I see it. Let’s hope they — or some other similar technology — gets adopted as a standard, because pre-roll both sucks and blows.
In the end, until we solve the content creation bottleneck, figure out how to measure it and get the cost down to something that compares to large-format banners, or it just loses out on every metric.
Pre-roll is dead, long live something else but pre-roll, please.
Ranty rant signing off…
The voice of UGC is chaotic, irreverent and will make your brand uncomfortable. Embrace it, shape it, mold it, but get comfortable, because you cannot control it.
In the midst of just “talking some crap, and playing some videos” as he puts it, the podfather Adam Curry, co-founder of PodShow, has something to say to you today, and you better be listening to his sermon because millions of consumers are not just talking, but creating, listening and engaging outside of your control.
With the advent of user-generated content, your brand is no longer what you think it is. It’s what your consumer thinks it is. Brands have been isolated from the true consumer voice, dictating downward their unicultural view on what they should be. The party’s over and it’s time to embrace chaos. Your brand is what your consumer thinks it is; and that consumer’s voice can be heard.
In order for you to engage in that dialogue, you must embrace that voice, and between a parody video Adam demonstrated of George Bush asking if your balls itch to a YouTube video of a man launching bottle rockets from his butt, we all realize this is, as he states, “not so good if you are a brand advertiser, unless you are in the business of selling bottle rockets or ass. The challenge for brands in this new medium is difficult.”
Many brands have pulled away from questionable content, but are they ready to embrace this? The voice of UGC is chaotic, irreverent and will make your brand uncomfortable. Embrace it, shape it, mold it, but get comfortable, because you cannot control it.
Welcome to the world of podcasting and user-generated content.
But how did this man become the voice of the podcast? When MTV first launched, it sought to change a generation sick of their voice not being heard, and for eight years, Curry was their proxy, their conduit.
He successfully launched and then sold a company that was in the content creation space, originally getting permission to cybercast the Grammy Awards on the internet in 1995 because, as he puts it, there were only two questions they had: “What’s a cybercast and what’s the internet?”
Curry realized it was only a matter of time before the clients he was charging $100,000 realized that all they needed was a new breed of content creation devices, and they could do it for much less. So he sold. What do you do with millions of dollars and a lot of free time? You retire in the Netherlands, buy a helicopter, a castle and relax, of course.
When he saw the iPod being marketed as a digital storage device for music, Curry realized it could be more. It was a time-shifting media device you could connect to the internet. It enabled us to go from an “economy of scarcity,” where limited shelf space predominates, to an “economy of abundance,” where there is no shelf space limit, no traditional limit from the major media companies dictating their bland, same-voice radio proliferation of conformity. There was a long-tail effect of having unlimited choice.
He wanted to get the band back together. He saw the iPod as more, and actually coded the original iPodder. With cheap recording equipment, there was now a way to enable the thousands of voices out there; the broadcast network could be completely cut out of the equation.
At the iMedia Brand Summit, Curry demonstrated the proliferation of devices from iPods to PSPs to the Xbox, etc., reminding the audience that they are all capable of handling this new voice, which only widens the enablement.
We are the network, and there are hundreds of thousands who have become one, and millions more who listen to us. He reminds us that content is king. YouTube was sold for $1.2 billion. Some say that Google paid too much for the organizer of UGC content. But what is the value of programming? What is CSI’s estimated worth? $4 billion.
There are reasons why you should be paying attention to UGC.
Reach: Hit shows generate millions of downloads and unique users every month.
Relevance: Brands connect directly with passionate audiences by sponsoring programming relevant to their message.
Frequency: Sponsoring episodic content enables brands to build a dialogue with their consumers.
Engagement: Integrated programs for advertisers who seek to connect more deeply with their audiences.
There are new integrated brand formats and ways to engage this medium; from tech shows and fashion, to love and lifestyle, consumer brands are reaching out to this audience and aligning with the vertical advocates creating that content.
There are brands that understand this, and the transference from content to advertising is much more seamless than in the offline world, where the hard lines of editorial and advertising still rule. From episodic content like “Will It Blend,” to integrations from companies like Suave and K-Y, there are companies that not only “get” UGC but are embracing the medium.
And for the consumer, there’s a social reward for getting the show. Who do you trust? Do you trust mass media? No. You trust individuals with a voice. Podcasting has become the digital word-of-mouth transference, unbound by geographical limits. Those social groups now have the power to break those geographic chains, and the podcasters are the new influencers in this digital medium. The blogs cascade that message, but at the top of the chain is the power of audio and video.
UGC gives you a direct role with your audience, Curry said. The feedback is quick, and the audience is asking for it. Is your brand ready to embrace it?
ranty rant signing off…