Online video ads impossible to ignore

Online video ads impossible to ignore

Finally, an ad format that online advertisers and media companies will love, but how popular will online video prove with consumers?

If trials are successful, then Internet users may soon have to get used to watching TV ads between Web pages.

The result of collaboration between Unicast Communications, and software giant, Microsoft, the new Video Commercial is a full screen online ad format that plays 2MB, 30-second, broadcast-quality video - regardless of connection speed.

The format is based on Microsoft's Windows Media 9 Series and uses Unicast proprietary pre-cached technology.

15 media properties, including AT&T, ESPN, iVillage, Honda, MSN, Pepsi, and Tribune Interactive, have already signed up for a six-week trial.

Traditionally advertisers have been reluctant to chuck their modest online media budgets at costly experiments with rich media ads, but the new video commercial makes it so inexpensive to re-purpose TV ads online, that advertisers are finally willing to pay what media companies want to charge.

"Currently, there are too many ads because websites depend on advertising for your content to be free," said Allie Savarino, Unicast vice-president of worldwide marketing.

"And the lower the value to an advertiser that an ad format, such as a pop up, brings, the more ads a website has to sell," she told the BBC programme Go Digital.

"If you can offer formats that advertisers place a premium on, like television commercials, the amount of money they're willing to pay for that will increase and therefore the number of ads websites will have to run to remain viable will decrease."

However, analysts at Forrester Research are more sceptical, cautioning that TV ads won’t make much sense to an online audience.

After all, television ads are designed for a passive mindset and an entertainment-focused environment whilst online consumers are more actively engaged in the content.

People might have got used to the pop-up ads that have proliferated, but there is little doubt that a 30-second TV ad appearing at random, will be harder to ignore than pop-up ads.

Technology analyst Bill Thompson commented, 'It will replace something that is annoying for many people with something which is even more annoying,' he said.

“The flow when you are moving from Web page to Web page is particularly important. To have that interrupted, even by an ad you can close, is going to be disruptive and people won't like it.”

Forrester argues that a consumer backlash will eventually force media companies to limit ads to one per user per day, while advertisers will shorten the commercial and use Unicast’s interactive capability to build links around and after the spot.

Sources: BBCi, Forrester Research, New Media Age, Unicast

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