With live programming from Major League Baseball under way, and the looming 2012 London Olympics almost upon us—all events will be broadcast live, NBC promises us—online video is starting to look more like TV with live, network-quality broadcasts with preset commercial breaks.
This will enable more TV ad dollars to come online, or so the thinking goes.
However, the corollary that may be lost on many media executives on both the demand and supply sides is that video ads that “feel like TV” undercut all the progress advertisers have made towards embracing the type of deeper-engagement ads that online advertising uniquely supports. The TV experience is incompatible with rich media ads (VPAID ads, in the online video world) that support user interaction. Forcing the commercial break rules of TV—strict adherence to N ads per pods, of thirty or 60 seconds each, that end at the broadcaster’s discretion when they cut back to the content—creates a poor user experience and deprives advertisers of all the brand engagement time their creative may have earned.
Imagine yourself engaging with an interactive video ad, checking out the specs and interior 360 degree tour of the latest Ultimate Driving Machine. How would you feel if your experience were suddenly cut short by the commercial break’s end, just as you were getting to the 0 to 60 and standing quarter mile times? And how would the advertiser feel about that? They’ve made a greater creative investment in their interactive ad, here they have a user actually engaging with it, and suddenly the ad experience is closed!
While I’m all for moving TV dollars online, let’s try not to lose some of the capabilities that make online unique. Let’s not make it “just like TV”.