Note To TV Commercial Advertisers: Online Video Is Unlikely To Be Your Savior
from the not-so-easy dept
The online video market is incredibly hot right now, and it might get even hotter with the news of Yahoo’s purchase of Jumpcut (a company that presented at the last Techdirt Greenhouse event). Also today comes the news that over 100 million Americans viewed online video in the month of July. However, the most interesting of all is the news from AdWeek that advertisers just can’t find enough inventory to put their commercials into online videos, driving the prices way up. That last stat, though, needs to be taken with some large grains of salt. After all, two of the most popular online video sites, YouTube and Google Video, don’t currently put video ads before or after their content (though, certainly the owner of any video could simply put a commercial into the beginning of their video) — meaning that all of the hype around online video hasn’t really opened up the inventory. The immediate response might be that this represents an opportunity for YouTube to justify some of the highly speculative valuations being tossed around.
That might be shortsighted, however. It’s taking a very traditional TV advertising view of the online world — where the inventory is limited. There is no real limit on online inventory — just on viewers, and to get viewers you need to just have something to attract them. Also, a lot of the supply for these ads is probably coming from execs who used to spend on TV ads, but are now freaking out over things like TiVo. Of course, rather than come up with advertising that fits the way people use the web, they simply want to shift the same exact ads from TV to the web, assuming that they’ll work just as well. That’s unlikely to be the case, however. TV ads tend to work because you have a captive audience who has no other choice (hence the popularity of fast forwarding through ads when available, or simply channel surfing during commercial breaks). People who are online have myriad other choices to choose from, and are likely to use some of those other choices if you’re trying to waste 30 seconds of their time — something it appears YouTube recognizes so far. The real trick is for advertisers to stop worrying about where to place their 30 second spots, and focus on making relevant, interactive advertising that people want. Certainly some advertisers have started to figure this out, but if the online video world is just inundated with repurposed 30-second spots, it’s unlikely to be very successful.