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Long-Form Video Seeing More Ad Opportunities

13 Feb, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

RESTON, Va. – Internet analytics company comScore says nearly 85 percent of U.S. Internet users watch 40 billion content videos monthly. And they spend, on average, five-to-six minutes viewing them. So online video is still dominated by short-form clips, much to the detriment of marketers and the ad industry, says Rich Routman, a writer with Media Post.

“Short-form is great for pre-roll, but not for pulling in TV-like budgets from major brands. That will largely come from long-form content,” Routman says.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) defines long-form video online as longer than 10 minutes. This type of content drove views across several YouTube channels, according to December statistics, confirming an industry shift that consumers are turning to more long-form content.

Routman says the challenge with long-form online content is that neither pre-roll nor traditional TV models work effectively for brand engagement.

“Pre-roll can be effective for shorter clips and between clips watched in succession, but it’s a missed opportunity for long-form and undervalues the level of viewer engagement with the content,” he says. “TV-like disruptive ads have the same effect, since consumers can skip ahead on some platforms and click to another tab on others. While this model makes it easier for brands to compare online to traditional TV buys and has caught on with entities like Hulu and, wedging TV models into the digital video landscape is more of a quick fix than a long-term solution.”

To find a viable ad format for long-form content, Routman says industry players need to look at what’s driving long-form views. One of the biggest areas contributing to this shift is sports video, with a growing number of live-streamed events, including the Super Bowl, Sunday Night Football, and the Masters.

“The Olympics and NCAA basketball tournament proved that they could consistently draw a sizeable audience, even during traditional work hours,” Routman says. “Other video categories are successful in streamed events as well. For example, CBS’s ‘Live on Letterman’ series has brought in millions of video viewers by broadcasting full concerts on Vevo.”

He adds that these events should be considered “sponsorship-worthy opportunities,” where a brand (or brands) can own the presentation of the video. “For effective consumer engagement, brands must ensure that their message is present for the entirety of the event, with pre- and post-roll placements, as well as on-screen assets, live reads, adjacent banner ads and social media engagement opportunities. It's crucial that such messaging be integrated into the overall entertainment experience, extending beyond traditional spot marketing.”

Routman says brands that want to take advantage of a long-form sponsorship need to look for a built-in audience and content that will remain topical – and hopefully evergreen.
Some examples of TV integration include Pepsi’s and AT&T’s work with “American Idol.”

“Conversely, some of the best branded digital content work I’ve seen to date correlates to the celeb/pop culture and college humor platforms, as these publishers can offer corresponding media on their site (such as IAB ad units) to increase the share of voice while viewers are consuming the long-form video. Long-form sponsorship, when done right, should feel like an effort – it’s not simply identifying a program and inserting a 15-second pre-roll,” Routman writes.

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