YouTube, Others Jump Into VivaKi’s ‘Pool’

Publicis’ multiagency digital consortium VivaKi has signed on a slew of new brand and media partners for the second wave of The Pool—its long-term research project aimed at establishing a standard ad format for online video. New partners include Denny’s, Walgreens and Walmart, along with YouTube—the biggest player in online video.

Those companies join previously announced partners AOL, CBS Interactive, Microsoft, General Mills, U.S. Cellular and others. VivaKi has signed on 11 brands and 10 media partners for “lane 2” of The Pool—which is focused specifically on short-form video content.
Short-form is obviously in YouTube’s wheelhouse. But until recently, the Google-owned video repository has gone it alone when it comes to testing various ad formats. But as Google struggles to monetize the bulk of YouTube’s inventory, it appears the company is looking to join forces with the agency world to help deal with that issue.

“Getting YouTube involved like this is a great opportunity to expose them to those advertisers that they are more than UGC and that they are starting to get their act together,” said Tracey Scheppach, senior vp, video innovation director, Starcom MediaVest Group, who’s serving as point person on The Pool. Plus, YouTube’s participation is equally crucial to the endeavor’s potential impact. “Considering how much short-form video they have, it’s incredibly important to me,” she added.

So is the growing list of blue-chip clients committed to The Pool, even as it has received criticism from some over its sluggish pace. Some media giants, such as MTV Nets, have passed on participating. Results from “lane 1” of The Pool will be released in February 2010; lane 2 by October. That pace is deliberate, said Scheppach: “When we announce the results, I want to say that we tested everything thoroughly.”

Andrea Kerr Redniss, senior vp, managing director, Optimedia, who manages the digital spending for Pool participant Denny’s, said the desire among clients for more efficient media spending, coupled with the continued growth in online video, has only intensified interest.
“With this group of publishers and advertisers, there is a lot of inertia to get this done,” Kerr said. “And [for Denny’s] they really want to take part in shaping it rather than sitting back.”