Online video ads prove effective

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Online video ads are proving to be successful for b-to-b advertisers as the technology advances and more marketers and publishers embrace the medium.

According to a study released last month by Internet research company Dynamic Logic, ads that use audio and video have a higher impact on brand awareness at a lower frequency exposure than other standard online ad formats.

The study, based on an analysis of Dynamic Logic's MarketNorms database, found that one exposure to an online audio/video ad increased brand awareness by 10 percentage points.

It took many more exposures of other online ad formats to gain a lift in brand awareness, the study found. For example, 468x60 banners (also called leader boards) achieved a 6 percentage-point gain in brand awareness after 10 exposures, while skyscraper ads garnered an 8 percentage-point lift in brand awareness after six exposures.

Exposure to one video ad also resulted in increases to the following metrics: message association, up 14.4 points; brand favorability, up 5 points; and purchase intent, up 4.8 points.

"This study shows that video ads perform at the top compared to other formats," said Ken Mallon, VP-product development at Dynamic Logic. "If you want to have a lot of impact, this is the way to go. You don't need to have a high frequency of exposure."

Online rebranding

Jay Krihak, partner and group director at digitaledge, an online marketing agency, has used online video ads for clients including AT&T Corp., for which digitaledge developed an online campaign to accompany AT&T's corporate rebranding campaign launched earlier this year.

AT&T's $200 million campaign was developed by Y&R Advertising, New York, and was designed to position AT&T as a telecommunications leader. Media used in the campaign included TV, print and online.

As part of the campaign, digitaledge created online video ads using Unicast's Video Commercial, which allows advertisers to play video commercials online using side-by-side interactivity. For instance, in the online video ads, users could watch the TV spots online while interacting with the ads, including getting more product information, reading case studies or signing up for an AT&T newsletter.

"The results have been fantastic," Krihak said. "We saw a significant lift with all metrics," he said, pointing to an increase in brand awareness, message association and purchase intent. He declined to reveal the actual numbers.

However, Krihak said, challenges remain for advertisers that want to use online video ads. "The average run-time of an online video ad is 15 to 18 seconds," Krihak said, referring to the amount of time an online ad plays before a user chooses to shut it down.

Marketers that simply convert their 30-second TV spots to online formats may be losing branding opportunities if users stop playing the online ad before it runs entirely, he noted. "If the brand message appears in the second half, the user is missing it," he said. "The creative needs to evolve with the online format."

Tracking video usage

Some b-to-b publishers are advancing their use of online video ads., which has been using online video for editorial content and advertising for more than two years, recently developed a proprietary ad serving system that allows it to better target and track online video ads.

The system has been in use for about two months, with advertisers including IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Hitachi.

"One of the big problems with online video is that it has been hard for advertisers to have a sense of how many people are watching an ad, and you don't know how many people finish a video," said Jim Spanfeller, CEO of "Now we can track [those metrics] and target people by company size, geography and other factors."

The system allows Forbes to insert video ads before, during and after a video news segment, and it tracks how long users have stayed with a segment, how long they watched an ad and other metrics.

Another b-to-b publisher that has advanced in its use of online video is Dow Jones & Co., which launched The Wall Street Journal Video Center in November.

The center provides a central database of online video news clips that users can search and watch, as well as a video environment in which advertisers can run online video ads. The video center is powered by thePlatform, a media publishing system, and content is provided by The Wall Street Journal and CSNBC. So far, The Wall Street Journal Online has signed up Sun Microsystems as a charter sponsor of the video center. 

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