• Video Ads Become More Engaging as Industry Grows

    Making video ads more engaging has become a key initiative for many online video ad companies. They're responding to agencies and advertisers searching for additional ways to generate an ROI from their online video ad campaigns and further flexibility in how they deliver their messages. The moves come amid strong growth across the industry. Companies that have introduced enhanced interactivity include:

    YuMe - introducing today the new "Triple Play" ad unit, which allows the advertiser to insert up to 3 calls to action (e.g. sign up for more info, watch more videos, etc.) after the video ends. YuMe's co-founder and president Jayant Kadambi told me that increasing choice for advertisers and agencies is a key goal. Separately, YuMe reported delivering 2.5 billion ads in Q4 '09, its strongest quarter to date, including an average of 30 million ads/day in Dec '09.

    Jivox - introducing today custom interactivity allowing advertisers and agencies the ability to add their own Flash and HTML applets so users can interact within the player itself (example here, roll over the "Experience BMW" to see the interactive options). Diaz Nesamoney, Jivox's President, CEO and founder also explained to me last week that while the company continues operating its own ad network, its fastest-growing segment in '09 was licensing its platform to media companies (e.g. Gannett, McClatchy, Meredith, etc.) who want to sell their own video ads. Revenues were up 600% in '09 with 3,000 new advertisers.

    Tremor Media - last week Tremor rolled out six new ad formats for enhanced interaction and engagement: Pre-roll Plus Overlay, vChoice Select, vChoice Rotator, Data Feed, Sequencer and In-Stream Live. The formats, which all use the company's Acudeo ad management platform, build on last June's introduction of its vChoice format. According to comScore's most recent Nov '09 numbers, Tremor was the largest video ad network with potential reach of 85 million viewers or 49.8% of the total U.S. viewing audience and actual reach of 20% of viewers.

    Innovid - launched the iRoll, interactive pre-roll ad unit, in '09, which can embed a mini-web site in the video ad itself. Innovid originally pursued product placement through the insertion of Flash objects, but CEO and co-founder Zvika Netter told me recently that, based on agency feedback, it has decided to focus on enhancing interactivity. Innovid is still early stage, but its profile is growing. For example, Netter was recently selected as one of Time magazine's eight "Tech Pioneers Who Will Change Your Life."

    ScanScout - Last but not least, in Oct '09 ScanScout unveiled its "Super Pre-Roll" unit, which also enhances interactivity within the ad itself (the Vaseline demo for a great example). Waikit Lau, ScanScout's co-founder and president told me that advertisers are drawn to the unit's superior click-through rates, which are up to 4.5 times higher than typical pre-roll ads.

    All of these moves show that in-stream video ads are continuing to evolve to provide more value and a better ROI to advertisers, while also delivering an improved experience to users. No doubt this contributed to the strong '09 that many online video ad executives have reported to me. With the ad climate improving and further engagement opportunities inevitable, there is plenty of reason to believe that spending in the medium will continue to grow.

    Note - if there are other initiatives you're aware of that I've missed, please leave a comment.

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