Google Testing Drive-by Video Ads

    January 8, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

As online video has evolved, the question of how to advertise and when to advertise has been burning. There are no experts in this realm, only testers, debating about post-roll or pre-roll ads, layered content, and how long an online video viewer would view a commercial. Google is latest to try it out, and they may have a winner.

Inside Google blogger Nathan Weinberg calls “first!” on spotting Google spots added to featured videos on Google Video. The spots are 15 seconds, blended in with the content similar to traditional fare. The catch is, which advertisers will cause advertisers to moan a bit and viewers to cheer, you can skip them altogether.

Weinberg points to a Charlie Rose clip. A little digging finds another one from PBS. And still yet, a music video has one tacked on at the end (it ain’t cool to break up a song, afterall).

Along the progress bar at the bottom, a viewer may notice a blue square or two. That’s where the commercials are. Viewers have to be extra alert to skip them, though. Once the commercial’s started it’s too late.

If Google can set the standard for online video ads, they’re doing it at the right time – just as Piper Jaffray reports that online video viewing continues to increase as TV viewing decreases. Yes, now is the time, further illustrated by Google controlling the number one and three spots for video online with YouTube and Google Video.

The new (or old, depending on how you look at it) technique challenges the pre-roll-post-roll debate. The struggle up till now has been that viewers are more likely to abandon a video if forced to watch an ad at the beginning, and are very likely to exit out of a video once the ad starts at the end. Putting a couple of really short spots at a couple of break points in the middle may help solve that dilemma.

The other struggle has been determining how long the commercial could be. Advertisers have been warned that 30-second spot is on its last legs, as online viewers don’t have that type of patience. Ten to fifteen seconds may be all the time you have to make an impression.

Google’s drive-by ad technique may be balanced enough to catch on. For commercial free programming, the viewer can still purchase an episode of their favorite show for $2 or less and watch them on the media device of their choice.


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