blip.tv, the online video network for independent producers, has shared with me that in Feb '10 it generated 85 million video views, double the amount from Feb '09, and that by its estimates, approximately 85% of those views are sufficiently high-quality to accept ads from major brands. In addition, blip is getting strong results from several new ad formats it launched recently, another sign that online video advertising is delivering for both content providers and advertisers. In separate conversations over the last week, Mike Hudack, CEO and Evan Gotlib, VP of Ad Sales, brought me up to speed.
The new ad unit that's performing best is called an "interactive pre-roll," which allows viewers to select which product in an assortment they want to see video about. For example, in this ad for Chevy, which started running in December, viewers click on the Malibu, Equinox or Traverse. And in this new ad for Starbucks introducing its "Bold" line of coffees, users choose one of eight new blends to learn more about. The goal of these ads is to allow users to self-customize their experience (something Hulu has been doing as well), to drive higher engagement. Evan reported that the ads are driving a 6-14% click-through rate, and in the case of Chevy, a 22% subsequent click-through rate to the Chevy site.
Another new ad that's performing well is the "share unit." In this example for Samsung's Omni phone, about 2 minutes into the video's play, a bug appears in the upper right corner of the video window for 15-30 seconds, which when clicked, opens up an image of the Samsung Omni phone. There the user sees prompts to share the underlying video on Facebook or Twitter, or via email, text or embed. Evan said that this unit is driving a 4% click-through rate, and that 10% of people who click on the ad go on to share the video in one way or another.
Lastly, the "overlay with custom video creation" unit is a new way blip is differentiating itself through branded entertainment. In this example for the Samsung Behold II smartphone, the user is first exposed to an overlay ad, with a call to action to "watch how the Behold II can make you a super hero" (this is Samsung's hook for the phone). The user is then exposed to 3 videos of about 1 minute each, featuring "Behold II Man" and his 2 female sidekicks. The videos are campy but clever, weaving in promotion for the Behold II's specific features.
Evan said the videos were created by blip for about $15K, which is a fraction of what an agency would have charged. For blip, creating videos is a means to an end: throwing a few short videos into the mix is a way of gaining a higher fraction of the brand's media spend and standing apart from typical pre-rolls. This new campaign for Chili's is another great example - clearly low-cost production, but, especially for its target audience, catchy and impactful.
blip's success with these ads and brands are part of a far larger story that is playing out in the entertainment and advertising industries. As I wrote in January and numerous times before, there is a ton of innovation happening in online video advertising, which is driving up campaign ROIs and in turn enticing more brands to increase their spending on online video. A key part of the story here is that video advertising is getting both more targeted and more customizable by viewers, leading to better results and improved satisfaction. I've always been a believer that viewers don't hate ads so much as they hate irrelevant ads. That's what's so exciting about online video - it combines the relevance and targeting of Internet advertising with the emotional impact of TV advertising.
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