As part of The Pool–an industry initiative aimed at establishing standards for various emerging media segments–Publicis’ VivaKi will begin testing two distinct types of online video ad units this summer and will ultimately present the industry with its recommended unit by February 2010.
That’s according to new details on The Pool offered on Monday (Apr. 20) by the two Publicis’ executives heading up the project: Curt Hecht, president, VivaKi Nerve Center and Tracey Scheppach, senior vp, video innovation director, Starcom USA, who delivered a joint keynote address at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s forum on Digital Video in New York. Scheppach said that the team working on The Pool—which includes a mix of top publishers and advertisers—has already narrowed a list of 30 possible online video ad units to two, and is close to having completed rounds of qualitative and quantitative testing on both possible standard placements.
Initiated last November, The Pool includes the various Publicis digital agencies which make up VivaKi (Starcom, Moxie Interactive, Digitas, etc), as well as most of the top players in online video (AOL, Microsoft, Hulu, BBE, Yahoo, etc)–with the glaring exception of YouTube. The group also includes the advertisers Purina, Capital One and All State. The initial plan is to figure out a way to make online video advertising easier to scale and to buy by establishing an ad standard along the lines of TV’s 30-second spot—a standard that works for advertisers, brands and most importantly consumers.
Currently in the online video space, though advertiser demand is high, “there’s too much choice,” said Scheppach.
Thus, starting this June the group will look to make such choices easier, as five months of field testing kick off the two finalist ad placements, which are specifically geared for long-form video. Scheppach wouldn’t revail any details on what those two placements consist of, hinting only that they are distinct in nature and would be familiar to executives in the industry.
All test results will be benchmarked against pre-roll video ads, the current de facto online video standard ad—and the placement that nearly everyone in the industry complains needs to be replaced. That’s why formalized testing is crucial. “How do we tell our advertisers to make something new [without data],” said Scheppach.
After field testing concludes, roughly by the end of October, the group will take a few months to analyze the results before sharing their findings with the industry next February.
When asked whether it is realistic for the online video industry to adopt a single standard unit when so many options exist, Scheppach said that was not necessarily the goal of The Pool. Rather, she cited the TV business, where though 30-second spots bring in the lion’s share of dollars, 15s 60s and straight sponsorships all still have a place. “This isn’t about squashing creativity,” she said.
Online video is just the first of many sectors the group is looking to tackle, added Scheppach. On the docket are mobile, short-form online video and advanced TV, among others.