Advertisers grapple with online video opportunity

Advertisers say they are struggling with how best to take advantage of online video.

Online video can boost electronics retailers' brand recognition and sales, although business and technical considerations have to be taken into account to achieve good results.

That was the message attendees at the eRetailer Summit in Miami heard loud and clear on Monday from speakers on the panel, "Video in Advertising: The Promises and Challenges."

Although using Web video to market products and services is a relatively new practice, it can be extremely effective as long as clips are developed for an online audience and are not reheated TV spots, speakers said.

In the "Ad 1.0" era, when the only medium for video advertising was the TV set and a few channels, the strategy was "shouting loudest and most often," said Jeremy Lockhorn, director of emerging media at Avenue A/Razorfish.

Today, consumers have a vast choice of devices, services, channels and Web sites, so marketers must make video ads engaging, clever and interactive in order to emerge from the clutter and earn consumers' attention, Lockhorn said.

Thus, viewers of ads can be given a choice to go deeper and get more information about the product by clicking over to a longer documentary or to a Web page with complementary data, he said.

A 30-second spot should be broken up into segments that can be changed on the fly based on information about the viewer, such as their location or demographic profile, Lockhorn said.

The rules and best practices are being established now through trial and error, which causes great excitement and stress for marketers, said Mark Hillman, associate creative director at Resource Interactive. Among the emerging trends are video ads that allow viewer interaction and campaigns that call on consumers to make their own commercials, he said.

Meanwhile, Eric Elia, vice president of creative services at Internet TV services provider Brightcove, reminded attendees that there is a big technology component behind effective online advertising, whether it's professionally produced or submitted by amateurs.

This includes managing the video, such as uploading and storing the file; publishing clips, which involves programming, rights management and delivery, and distribution via sharing, feeds or syndication; and revenue generation, which requires managing ad servers.

Finally, Rohit Bhargava, vice president of interactive marketing at public relations agency Ogilvy, said online video marketing can be used successfully to do recruiting, promotions and product education, and generate buzz.

He cited as a successful example a campaign that Ford Models has on YouTube to recruit models, in which some of the agency's models tape videos in which they address aspects of their work.

Bhargava also mentioned LiveVault's "Institute for Backup Trauma" as an effective and innovative example of the use of online video to educate customers about products through humor. In this case, the product is data backup gear. Typically, vendors such as LiveVault rely on white papers to gain customers, he said. "It's a very engaging way to demonstrate the value of their products using video," he said.

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