Making Sense of Video Advertising “Anarchy”

In ancient video history (pre-2006, before “video” displaced “television” as the default term), advertising meant buying time for placing television commercials and, occasionally, infomercials. The only variables were the length of the spot, and where and when they were placed.

Then YouTube came along and dumped all the apples out of the cart. Today, we have anarchy and uncertainty. Or maybe we should consider the expanding options to be more like a smorgasbord of new opportunities. If so, here are some of marketers’ choices:

Sponsored videos, produced for a fee by semi-professional usertainers, and spread via their fan bases.

Video usertising contests, such as those mounted by Doritos and others that were hits at February’s Super Bowl. 

Contextual, Google-style text ads displayed next to videos (just beginning to emerge, but certain to be HUGE).

Product placements — a specific form of sponsored videos.

Subversive campaigns — deliberate “viral mysteries,” inspired by the success of lonelygirl15.

How-to videos — a form of sponsored videos or product placements.

Emerging mobile formats, which presumably will include associating videos with Twitter postings.

Widgetized video — and it’s worth mentioning that associating such videos with abbreviated text ads looks like a good bet.

Proliferation of web-only video networks — ranging from content-development plays such as Michael Eisner’s Vuguru, to a host of well-financed YouTube clones and variations (such as Joost) waiting in the wings.

Online initiatives undertaken by traditional television networks and channels.

Re-invention of POTS (plain-old television service) as TV and TV advertising adapt to online innovations.

Half a dozen other options I haven’t thought of.

Did I say smorgasbord?

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