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Direct Response Marketing

Net Gains: Online Video Is Off the Charts

10 Dec, 2009 By: Brad Feldman Response

Brad FeldmanAccording to Steve Burke, Comcast Corp.’s chief operating officer, at the 2009 CTAM Summit, “Online video consumption is off the charts.” And he’s right. Today, 168 million people — 84 percent of Americans online — watch an average of 10 hours of online video per month.

Streaming now accounts for more than 28 percent of all Internet traffic, according to a new study by Sandvine. In August 2008, comScore announced that YouTube surpassed Yahoo as the second-largest search engine behind Google.

So What?
At the same time that online video is growing, television advertising is changing. Digital video recorders (DVRs), fragmented audiences and our increasingly busy and distracted lives online — Twitter, Facebook, Posterous and FriendFeed, anyone? — are consuming more of our time and forcing television to find new ways to provide more value to advertisers.

As a result, our industry is getting the squeeze, and it will only get tighter. In fact, AdAge reported in October that the tightening scatter market has reduced the available remnant time slots that currently generate a significant portion of the demand for DRTV products. But the DRTV industry is fantastic at finding new opportunities.

The Next Frontier
As online video continues to skyrocket, more video ad inventory is becoming available. In fact, of the 10 billion videos served on YouTube last month, just 10 percent were monetized with an in-video advertisement. It’s not just YouTube — there are countless smaller sites targeted at very specific audiences, demographics and content. Knowing how to tap into this inventory is something every marketer needs to understand.

Of course with any new frontier there are countless new challenges. The truth is that the online video landscape is complicated and full of distractions. No one has yet found the formula for success. In my own business, we have seen very high click-through rates on video ads, yet in all but a few cases, a smaller number of conversions. Television ads will not work in online video in their current format. So if you thought that by just placing your commercial spots online, you’d turn the viewers into immediate buyers, I’m afraid you’re mistaken.

Online video viewers tend to stay focused on the content they originally came to view. If a particular offer made an impression on the viewer, they are more likely to go to Google and search for the product, browse directly to the product’s Web site and purchase, or even go into a retail store and buy.

This scenario is very different than the traditional way DRTV marketers converted sales. The days of your customers calling an 800 number and knowing exactly where and when they had seen your ad are being replaced by a slew of “not quite accurate” tracking systems, data points and metrics.

Like DRTV in the early days, there is a creative formula to engaging an audience and communicating a message. The true value of the Internet is that it enables marketers to create a very compelling experience tailored for each consumer. This includes the correct number of exposures, the right type of engagement and the coveted referrals that only come from a trusted community of one’s peers.

Finding the Gold
Entertaining while educating your prospective customer via the Web can be a powerful tool for building brand and selling products. To get started, consider:

  • Get creative. It took the industry time to find the right creative models for TV. The Internet medium is just another creative challenge. Embrace experimentation of new video lengths and ad unit types.
  • Get connected. Connect your new video ads into the online video ecosystem. There are many great ways beyond YouTube and your affiliate sites to reach millions of new potential customers.
  • Get results. Just because you can measure it, does not make it the correct measure. According to a recent AdAge report, purchases initiated from direct Web site access and search are primarily due to customers learning about the product elsewhere on TV and the Web.

About the Author: Brad Feldman

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