VivaKi to Test Online Video Ad Units

NEW YORK As part of The Pool — an industry initiative aimed at establishing standards for various emerging media segments — Publicis Groupe’s ‘ VivaKi will begin testing two distinct types of online video ad units this summer. It will ultimately present the industry with its recommended unit by February 2010.
That’s according to new details on The Pool offered by the two Publicis executives heading up the project: Curt Hecht, president, VivaKi Nerve Center, and Tracey Scheppach, svp, video innovation director, Starcom USA. On Monday the pair 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 — had narrowed an initial list of 30 possible online video ad units to two, and is close to completing qualitative and quantitative testing on both possible standard placements.
Initiated last November, The Pool includes various Publicis digital agencies that make up VivaKi (Starcom, Moxie Interactive and Digitas, among others), as well as most of the top players in online video (AOL, Microsoft, Hulu and Yahoo, etc.). The glaring exception is video-sharing titan YouTube. The group also includes 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 buy and establishing an ad standard along the lines of TV’s 30-second spot — a standard that works for advertisers, brands and consumers.
Currently in the online video space “there’s too much choice,” said Scheppach.
The placements to be tested are specifically geared for long-form video. Otherwise, Scheppach wouldn’t reveal 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.  
Test results will be benchmarked against pre-roll video ads, the current de facto online video standard — and the placement that many in the industry believe should be replaced.
After field tests conclude in October, the group will take a few months to analyze the results before sharing findings with the industry next February.
When asked whether it’s 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.