Seeking standards for digital-age creativity

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A cross-industry group that aims to set standards, and increase ad support, for digital media is preaching the on-demand gospel to creative directors as they explore new forms of commercial content.

Innovation in Digital Advertising (its members call it "idea" for the initials IDA) is a 2-and-a-half-year-old body made up of 60 companies, from marketers and media agencies to cable TV networks and operators. It has already made advances in defining common business terms for advertisers and on-demand providers to avoid confusion.

The group now wants to move past measurement and metrics and has created a task force to influence creative advertising standards across platforms such as video on demand, mobile phones and digital video recorders, among others.

IDA "is trying to identify a framework of questions and considerations that creative personnel would go through as they try and put together an ad for an on-demand platform . . . when the consumer selects [an advertising] message," said Pat Dunbar, a co-founder of IDA who runs the San Francisco-based Digital Media & Advertising Group.

IDA was instrumental in kick-starting talks between the ad industry and cable operators over basic measurement principles for on-demand video. It developed basic guidelines that were agreed to in mid-2004.

Jon Kamen, chairman-CEO of production house Radical Media, supports IDA's outreach to creatives: "While the words `standards' and `creativity' are perhaps opposites, the beauty of [on demand] is flexibility, and we should be embracing it."

Mr. Kamen, soon to unveil his own VOD channel, said he would advise any agency creative to experience on-demand media and "understand the navigation and the levels of interactivity that are possible."

The IDA creative task force is headed by Stuart Lipson, VP-content solutions at digital-software firm SeaChange International. His committee is preparing a list of potential issues for creative shops in advance of its next meeting in October. The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., is part of the task force, as is interactive platform Open TV.

"There are some questions [creatives] might want to think about: What's my product? What degree of interaction do I want with the consumers?" Mr. Lipson said.

The IDA group this month released projections about the growth of on-demand media. By May 2006, the group expects 17% all U.S. households to have a DVR and 24% to have access to video on demand. It expects that 25% of all households will have DVRs and 28% will have VOD by the 2007 upfront.

Another initiative is to standardize definitions of new-media terms. Michael Stoeckel, VP-emerging ad technologies platform research, Turner Broadcasting said, "We have developed an `encyclomedia' with basic ad unit definitions. You say bookend, I say bumper. You say tunnel, I say telescope. There are hundreds of terms being used and we've tried to consolidate that to under 20." (See chart, below.)

IDA’s On-Demand ‘Encylcomedia’

1) Telescoped long-form ads

Otherwise known as: tunneling to long-form ad

Summary: 60-second-to-eight-minute segment providing in-depth product information linked to various elements. Viewers click on ads to request it. Program is paused during viewing and resumes after the ad segment is complete.

2) Bookmarked long-form video

Otherwise known as: click-to-record, ad-banked long-form ads

Summary: Long-form ad that is promoted in various locations and is "saved" at user’s request and replayed at the end of programming.

3) Showcase (telescoped or bookmarked)

Otherwise known as: tunneling to standard showcase; telescoped virtual channel; bookmarked virtual channel; ad-banked standard showcase; link to standard showcase.

Summary: Collection of segments including ads, short-form programming and other elements presented in a single interface package around an advertiser’s targeted message.

4) Product trials

Otherwise known as: test drives (for autos)

Summary: Overlays or enhancements on top of programming that allow for consumer to opt in to product trials or test drive opportunities.

5) Consumer RFI

Otherwise known as: request for information

Summary: Viewer grants the advertiser permission to contact by asking to be sent more product information.


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