Though we’re well into an online video boom, advertisers are still reticent about producing unique Web video ads. So Blip.tv has started doing it for them.
The startup—which specializes in nurturing and distributing independent Web series—has been quietly building a team over the past year to create specialty video ads for brands. Now, it’s formally launching Blip.tv Creative Services, an in-house group that can take a client’s existing TV spots and create complementary in-stream ads, such as overlays or “bugs,” i.e small call-out ads that appear atop or in the upper right hand corner of a video player—theoretically making a noninteractive TV spot suddenly interactive.
For example, just a few weeks ago, Blip built a custom ad treatment for Google TV using its new “context aware” technology. As a viewer watches a show on Blip.tv or one of its partner sites, an ad appears over the bottom of the video player referencing the specific show being watched—encouraging users to watch that Web show on their big screen TV via the Google TV hardware (“You can now watch x show on your television”).
Similarly, around the holidays Blip.tv inserted shopping functionality, including four featured products and a store locator button alongside a classic pre-roll ad for Best Buy.
“This is a huge value ad for Blip.tv,” said co-founder Dina Kaplan. “When you start a tech company, you don’t expect to get into creative services.” But there was a natural opening. Since so many brands spend hundreds of thousands, even millions on TV spots, many don’t want to invest more in original online video creative. “So we just make it easy for them,” Kaplan continued.
Blip’s network of partners reaches over 33 million unique users each month and delivers 140 million video views globally. The company’s ad business has been soaring of late, increasing five-fold last year (though Blip would not release any specific dollars, revenue should double or triple in 2011).
The growth is surely driven by the surging online video ad market. But Evan D. Gotlib, Blip’s head of advertising sales and creative services, said that at least 15 percent to 20 percent of the company’s increased revenues can be attributed to the company’s creative services capabilities. Recently, Blip has landed business from General Motors, MetroPCS, General Mills, Starz and AT&T—some of which “we absolutely would not have gotten [without creative services],” he said.
“We’ve spent six years learning everything we can about original, independent video, and now we’re taking that learning and applying it to brands,” said Gotlib.
The key takeaway? Video can and should be interactive.
“When a person is watching a Blip show, it’s a different lean forward experience. The level of passion is different.” said Gotlib. “For advertisers, it’s similar to the PBS model–the idea that the brand made this content possible.”