VivaKi Takes 2nd Dip in ‘The Pool’

NEW YORK Publicis’ VivaKi has begun the second phase of The Pool — the agency conglomerate’s long-term research project aimed at determining the most effective ad format for online video — which will focus specifically on short-form content.

According to Tracey Scheppach, svp, video innovation director, Starcom MediaVest Group, VivaKi has signed on seven content partners — including AOL, BBE, CBS Interactive, Comcast’s Fancast, Microsoft and Tremor Media — to participate in this new phase of The Pool, dubbed “lane 2.” In addition, the company has begun recruiting advertisers from its client roster to participate in lane 2, and has received commitments from Bank of America, General Mills and U.S. Cellular. The group is scheduled to meet on July 16, with the release of the results planned for October 2010.

The Pool was originally launched by Starcom last November, and results of the “lane 1” phase of research will be released next February. The central idea of the ambitious study is to establish a standard ad unit for the online video industry, which is still mostly reliant on the much-derided pre-roll video spot. “We’re trying to find the workhorse for online video…the equivalent of the 30-second spot,” said Scheppach, speaking during the OMMA conference in New York on Tuesday.

Lane 1 began with a large number of ad format possibilities but recently narrowed down its list as the test went into full swing this summer. “We were not really lacking in choice [for online video ads],” said Scheppach. “It’s really that there was a lot of choice.”

Though she was coy on what the research had uncovered regarding long-form ads, Scheppach did hint that the leading ad units are currently available in the market and that the winning placement would ikely be more interactive than the current, more TV-like standard. “I feel confident that we will find an ad model that beats pre-roll,” she said.

However, given the prolonged pace of The Pool, the effort does have some doubters. On the panel alongside Scheppach was Alan Schulman, chairman, chief creative officer, U.Dig:The Digital Innovations Group, who wondered aloud whether the fast-changing industry could afford to wait for the results of such research. “I’m not sure we’ll be able to stand still long enough to find a workhorse unit,” he said.

Nielsen Business Media