I recently received an eMarketer notice entitled, “Online Video Advertising Starts Looking Good.” eMarketer says that 65% of internet users now view some form of video advertising and projects that by 2012, 4 out 5 of them will. I presume these are US statistics. Now, 4 out of 5 is 80%, which doesn’t seem like that much of an increase. What’s more, eMarketer defines an online video ad viewer as someone who sees any form of video advertising at least once a month. That doesn’t sound like much either.
You also have to ask what we mean by viewing? Right now, video pre-roll commercials are one of the more common forms of online advertising. But if this is the best format we can come up with, it hardly looks like a promising start to goodness, much less greatness.
Here’s a recent experience I had, which you’ve probably had at some point as well. I was investigating a topic online, and clicked on a link to a video relating to it on MSNBC. Before I could watch my video, I was forced to watch a pre-roll advertisement for a bottled salad dressing. There was no discernible connection between the video I wanted to watch and salad dressing, food or meal preparation. Nor do I use bottled salad dressing. But if I ever do in future, I will be sure never to buy this particular brand. Not because the ad was bad, but because the advertiser forced me to watch it. So I guess technically I viewed the ad. But it would have been better off for the brand if I hadn’t.
Pre-roll ads adhere to old marketing thinking that the marketer can still control the message in an age (today), and an environment (the internet), in which consumers demand to be able to choose the commercial messages they want to receive and the time and place to receive them. Forcing an advertising message down my throat when I am in internet “search mode” is the perfect way to irritate me and turn me off to your brand.
The future of online advertising will really start to look good when, similar to Google AdWords, the technology can tailor the online video ad to the content of the video I’m watching, increasing the likelihood that the product advertised might be relevant to me, and allow me to opt in to hear the message if I so desire. I would think this is technically possible now and the only reason it isn’t happening is because marketers are reluctant to give up the control of message delivery they’ve enjoyed up to now.