InStream advertising is being dominated by the PreRoll argument at the moment, and issues regarding length of video (5 to 30 seconds), frequency – per impression or per time-based session, as well as format – overlay or physical insert.

Do you know what, it is so temporary it is not even worth getting hung up about.

Online is measured by response – Click. Video is generally about branding. Do you measure TV by how many people pick up the phone? No. So when I sit in meetings and I get people banging on about how PreRolls are acheieving 5-10% click-thrus, everything within me wants to scream ‘there is something wrong!’ This is not a valid business justification to the site owner or media buyer and anyone who thinks it is will have a very nasty shock very, very soon. In truth, the user is looking for the skip button…

Online is a silent environment for the most part. Although video ads are numerous, most are watched with sound off – about 90%+ if you want me to be frank. People also spend around 6 secs on average per homepage. The average run length of most videos according to Eyeblaster is about 21 seconds. So quite how does my 30sec TV ad, relying on audio as key part of A/V message to lodge a ‘finger of fudge is just enough’ in my brain, work in silent environment? Let alone when 29 secs of the advert is spent building up to the 1 sec branding message at the end – not great if someone leaves after the standard 6 or even 21 seconds?!

InStream video is about entertainment. The web has finally shifted from information to entertainment, and with it the sound is switched back on! Hoorah! This is your first argument. Whatever you told the client before about online video, well I hope that little gem will become a spade for your hole…

InStream video is about engagement. Passive engagement for the most part. I have written before that most of the time we use YouTube for example, someone has sent us a link to watch – it is suggested, not searched. I am in a lean back and entertain me phase of user experience, not an active seek and search. Something that as video content online gets longer to TV proportions, a ‘vegging’ passivity of the user we will see happening more and more. This could also be one of the death-knell arguments for Hot-Spot interactivity within content, despite my personal mission to prove this wrong.

So when I am in my comotosed state of being entertained, do you really think I am going to click on your advert?

The best I will do is interact with a creative alongside – a companion advert. This again should allow users to interact and find out more, with out the need to click away. Take content to them, don’t expect them to go to you. Remember I am wanting to be entertained… I can’t even be bothered to get up and change the channel.

Advertising needs to learn to become immersive not intrusive. Shifting TV ads online, of any length is not going to be sustainable. PreRoll will die, eventually, and Google’s overlay concept is just the start. Watching the global media players this summer bring their digital and TV buying departments into the same room to pool information means the penny has finally dropped. Great news for digital: re-hash doesn’t work, we need to think media interplay earlier on in the production lifecycle.

Digital video has more engagement impact then TV – Why? Because I can touch and play with it. I can change outcomes or move things around, you can catch my eye and then let me interact. This all ensures that the brand is lodged deeper in my phsyche then mere sound and sight alone and will ensure a greater brand recall later on. Frequency of exposure may not be as powerful as TV at the moment, but when that happens, TV is going to have a hard job accounting for itself against the impact of digital.

And that comes to measurement – how long did someone spend watching that video, did they rewind and play again, did they put the sound on, did they forward it on to their friends? Whats the average length of time someone spends on that page, did they spend longer as a result of the video? What did they do after – click, search, interact, register their interest… Did the user do something, like purchase, as a result of watching that advert… even if it was a few days later?

Can TV provide all that? Can Clicks reveal all that?

When your video campaign produces 0% Click-thru rate – I want you to gleefully sit in your client meeting and justify why – and then blow them away with details of what you have learned.

If you can not command a healthier chunk of the TV budget as a result, then I suggest you re-think your position. Because one thing is for sure – the users whom your client wants to engage with are already one step ahead of you…