Blog Post

Advertising As Content Sites Proliferate, But Viewers Might Skip Altogether

Most online video sites continue to struggle with finding the right way to balance advertising and entertainment. That debate aside, a NYT piece and one on Adweek finds marketers are attempting to avoid the issue altogether by creating ads that are meant to attract viewers as entertaining content in their own right. For example, Interpublic Group agency MRM has been getting attention for its series of musical webisodes for Intel, directed by the comedian Christopher Guest (in the past three weeks, YouTube users have viewed this example over 24,000 times.)

And with the willingness of consumers to opt-in in such numbers, a few websites have sprung up showing nothing but ads-as-content. Since its launch last August by cable network TBS, claims that its clips have been viewed more than 63 million times. In a similar vein, NBC Universal’s USA Network plans to launch a portal for new and classic commercials called next year. And next month, Publicis Groupe and Droga5 will raise the curtain on a broadband channel that runs nothing but branded entertainment, Honeyshed. The site, being promoted as “QVC meets MTV,” will showcase clips that run about 2 or 3 minutes in length. David Droga, creative chairman at the Droga5, said that the videos will be introduced by individuals who are considered experts in the categories the ads find themselves, such as cars, computing and fashion.

While great ads will certainly attract online viewers, there’s reason to doubt whether these video sites will be able to sustain an audience. As Jupiter Research analyst Joseph Lazlo notes on his blog, only 8 percent of consumers said commercials were a genre of video they watched online in the past year.

5 Responses to “Advertising As Content Sites Proliferate, But Viewers Might Skip Altogether”

  1. Stephen D

    agreed, but feel that the user is sometimes so unaware that perhaps there is no little or no effect on the bottom line. The only thing worse than non-positive association with the brand is no association with the brand?

  2. invitedmedia

    i guess it's the definition of advertising. if you're going to simply put your :30 spots online- big f'in deal.

    but if you take and make content centered around the product then your :30 can become 3:00 and the user isn't much aware that what they just took in was a well crafted sales pitch.

    check out down the sidebar is a video link. click on any of them and watch. the convention and visitor's bureau understands, why not madison ave?

  3. I'm been advocating for some time now that advertising video is content and should be handled accordingly on media sites. I think it's a better option than pre-roll, for example.

    Can an advertising-only video site make it? Maybe. The right spin on the product, a little luck in marketing and adoption. Probably. Can several make it? Doubtful. But they're all a worthy experiment, I think.

    Also, while Jupiter may find it 8 percent now, if one or two of these sites become successful, it could create demand in that odd counter-intuitive, backwards way the Net often works. Also, how many people who responded to the survey really differentiated between advertising and content? For example, is the famous mentos and diet coke video advertising or content? How many people have watched that repeatedly and then responded to Jupiter, "oh, I never watch advertising video online." I would argue that not many people watch commercials online, as Jupiter says, and that the market for commercials will remain limited — but online video advertising is something different. Commercials were made for packaged goods media. Online video advertising is made for distributed media.

  4. Other than Superbowl ads and "classic" commercials, am I missing something here?

    Delivering contextual ads (whether that be text or video ads) is the most effective way to deliver quality views and users to advertisers. We just need better ways to deliver contextual video ads to users that aren't lousy user experiences like pre-rolls.