The Fourth Generation of Online-Video Advertising

Stop. Do not read another word before pausing for 15 seconds. Really.

Okay. How’d that feel? Chances are you ignored the advice, and perhaps it compelled you to defiantly plunge ahead with more interest. After all, the headline promised 4 generations, and that usually begs the question “what were the first three?”

But I made       you        wait. What if I forced you to wait?

Would you click the headline next time? I suppose it depends on how saucy it was. Maybe “New Video Compression Technology” would have instantly given your brain a pro/con dance. But “Fat lady falls down stairs and onto YouTube” might be the “spoon full of sugar” that made the interruption “medicine go down.”

According the book I read last night (Neuromarketing) your "old brain" (the prehistoric one that actually makes decisions) will love and remember this image. But your less important "new brain" (intellect, feelings) may find the text interesting.

My point is this: the third generation of online-video is preroll ads. Let’s get past this, shall we? They’re usually void of entertainment, unavoidable and will continue to proliferate and erode the medium — if unchecked. And according to my media friends, they’re hot. They’ve made me far more selective about what content I view on YouTube… it better be worth it. And this morning, in a move that might surprise you, I asked YouTube to turn them on my Nalts channel.

Think in the mid-1990s, when it fell from a coveted curator of credible content to a cesspool of ads masquerading as content, and ads masquerading as more obnoxious ads.

So many ads you'll get an epileptic seizure (ask your doctor about ZIMPAT)

But let’s back up and look at the first three generations of online-video advertising in simple terms:

Lurker hangs around playgrounds and sometimes finds a victim.

First Generation: Lurker. Nickel CPM ads surrounded videos, and didn’t even subsidize the bandwidth. YouTube was a voluntary non-profit, and companies like Revver and Metacafe compelled creators with ad-sharing. Unfortunately the advertising industry saw online video with the same disdain it viewed the web in 2000. Oh- that’s the Wild, Wild West. We can’t put our brand next to that nonsense. In fact people aren’t even using the medium. You want reach? Look no further than the original tube.

Second Generation: Overlay ads. The healthy compromise of ads like YouTube’s “InVideo” model was what saved the medium. The ads had critics, but as an advertiser I felt like my brand got enough attention. As a viewer I felt like I could tolerate it. Ad a creator I felt like I enjoyed the higher revenue. But then the illness started with our children. They began reflexively closing the boxes, almost like you hit “skip” on the flash/splash screen on the publisher’s website. So click-through and presumably all the other polite terms for “no immediate action” (awareness, recall, attitude, purchase intent, favorability) dropped too.

You peeked the first few times, didn't you?

You want access to the party? You'll deal with him first.

Third Generation: Pre-Roll Bouncers. You won’t have to look hard to know my POV on these little bastards we call pre-roll ads.They’re annoying, intrusive and deceptive (you often mistake them for the video you thought you’d be watching). And I just asked YouTube to turn them on my content. Why? They’re profitable. Why? They work… for now.

Fourth Generation: In the Show. Before I explain what I hope will be the fourth generation, let me guess what you’re thinking… that these surround, overlay and pre-roll ads are here to stay. You’re right. The lurker, flasher and bouncer will be around as long as media buyers are held accountable to buying space like purchasing agents buying #2 pencils and copier paper. As long as reach, “frequency and single-minded impression” is chanted like monks by students of advertising 101.

Hmmm. I'm thirsty.

Now think like a receiver of advertisements. The Coke room on American Idol. The weather brought to you by Smuckers. They’re gentler on the stomach and more effective than the leading medication. Advertisers need to get within the show. It’s not easy to scale, it’s hard to do an “insertion order,” and it may not be the “path of least resistance” to getting your brand’s aided recall up by 50%. But it’s polite, there’s an implied endorsement, and it’s impossible to ignore. The brand is hero not the Soup Nazi. Most of Beyond Viral addresses this model of advertising, however my “lurker, flasher, bouncer” model is conspicuously absent in the book. It came to me in a dream last night. Shut up. Most of my dreams are better than your acid trips. This one just happened to be about advertising.

The burden of proof, I’d contend, is not on “in the show” to prove it’s scalable and drives purchase intent (although it certainly can’t be without accountability). Rather the burden of proof is on the less Darwinian evolved models to prove they’re a better bang for the buck.

8 Replies to “The Fourth Generation of Online-Video Advertising”

  1. I agree with you that the Content better be worth the wait;however I hate pre-rolls and the majority of the time when they pop up, I click onto the next video. 15-30 seconds per ad, when some of the videos I tend to watch are only 1-2 minutes long? Plus If I do wait around for the ad to end, and the content is really bad or wasn’t worth the wait, it makes me not want to return and that alone could run people else where. Just expressing my thoughts about it. Have a great Day
    Peace, Ace77man

  2. I got offered the use of pre roll ad
    s earlier
    in the year here in Japan, but opted not to go for it. But its probably only a matter of time until they take over since they have proven profitable. I can’t stand the intrusiveness, but there are others that will click those ads.

    I’m off to go watch some pre roll now on the Nalts channel.

  3. I am with Ace77. Pre-roll is extremely annoying when you consider the timing. 20-30 seconds of pre-roll ad to be followed by a video that might only be about 3 mins long….and hopefully at least worth the wait.

    I think that the 4th generation would be kinder to the viewer and in doing so….extremely beneficial to the advertiser.

    Thanks for this great post!

  4. I never see any of the first three generation ads unless I’m using Internet Explorer (which I use for separate accounts and to click the ads on nalts videos). Hence another benefit for advertisers to work on the fourth generation model is that it can’t be blocked by the more savvy users who know how to install a browser extension.

  5. @jim excellent

    I got blockers, but on certain users – I won’t say who – I click on the ads

    I know this isn’t allowed, – who makes up these rules? – but if people asked me nice to click on the sponsor I’d probably do it, but to be forced…fergettaboutit

    then I live in a different reality

  6. I HATE pre-roll ads. So much so that, depending on the length of the pre-roll ad, I occasionally reject videos with them. Seriously. Reconsider.

  7. If it’s a pre-roll ad then, you better make it entertaining, so people will welcome it.

    Pay model for pre-roll ads is also tricky because the ads may be rolling but the consumer may actually be surfing in the meantime or doing some work in his or her computer to wait for the ad to finish. So to show attention the mouse should be placed over the ad.

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