Video Advertising: Holly Harper, Hulu and Being Halfway There
Like a lot of people, I watch most of my TV programs (Bored to Death, Mad Men, Glee) on my computer or iPad, either buying the series on iTunes, via services like Hulu or watching through the networks’ own video players.
Hulu is free, and even with a relevant sponsor like Infiniti promising limited interruptions, we still have to suffer through commercials in between segments. I say suffer since the experience is not something most people — including those of us who make commercials —would choose to if we could. This weekend, for example, I was catching up on family drama Brothers & Sisters (don’t roll your eyes; I come from big family and it’s the closest thing to Dynasty in this decade).
Right after Calista Flockhart’s character Kitty lies about her name to the hot plumber in her new rental, there was a 30-second commercial for State Farm Insurance. I’m pretty sure these ads are dynamically pulled but for a moment I thought maybe it was on purpose? If so, how great. Then, there was more: if you watched full screen you would miss this, but in the regular player you would also see a State Farm banner ad above the spot which says: “Have more time to watch your shows. Get an agent” with a click tease for “Why?” If you do click you leave the show for State Farm’s Why Agent microsite to watch another video on why one should have an agent. Now, I appreciate the rigor of being contextual with the video ad, and this “Why” video probably helps the brand in search, but I hope they don’t expect many of us to be crazy enough to click out of the show we are watching (Unless of course it’s an excruciating Holly Harper, husband and daughter scene which are usually dead boring)
At least they ask. Later, after a scene between Rachel and her French artist-turned-underwear model boyfriend, there’s a commercial for the airline Open Skies promoting flights to Paris. In terms of production quality, it’s more of a low-rent slideshow than a professional TV spot but what was interesting was — like Facebook — Hulu asks if this ad is relevant to you. I clicked yes for a few reasons. Not only is the Open Skies brand relevant to me (recently flew it and loved it), but it’s relevant to the scenes beforehand where they even discuss going to France. Again, I doubt it was that intentional beyond being a semi-relevant brand on a show with the right demographic, but we should all try to answer these when we see them. Maybe it’ll improve things.
Online video had a so-so start creatively. Pre-roll videos before a program you want to watch on a website are generally miserable experiences during which you’re taken prisoner for 30-60 seconds (which feel like 3-6 minutes) before being allowed to watch what you wanted. You learned to accept some waits based on bandwidth issues, but the pre-roll delay these days is still unacceptable. I’d love CNN.com, for one, to just get rid of pre-roll or at least ban anything longer than 10 seconds. Unless they’re absolutely hilarious spots, it’s just cruel.
The good news is online video is getting more interesting. Check out the Show & Tell YouTube channel or the recent breakthrough music video experience “The Wilderness Downtown” for Arcade Fire (Be sure to watch it via Google Chrome so you get the full experience of the pop-up windows). I asked our 200-plus creative department last week how many saw it and most hands went up enthusiastically. I bet tons of agencies are thinking bout how brands can do stuff like that, much more tailored to the digital environment and tapping all the great tools available to make it really compelling, really engaging — and really infectious. It’s a bit like how early cinema advertising was awful and booed at first but learned how to adapt to the theatre environment where it’s much more enjoyable and fits.
A good example of interactive video from across the pond is last year’s London Metropolitan Police’s interactive film “Choose A Different Ending.” It helped changed perception and behavior about the safety of carrying a knife by letting you play out scenarios for yourself. More recently here in the US, Old Spice showed how to integrate TV with web, mass advertising with one-to-one, and be shockingly nimble. Following some TV and online videos about the product, the agency created short videos responding directly to comments by customers and influentials. Shot within hours. Posted within days. Everyone I know is envious of how they managed to pull it off so quickly, and it’s probably the gold standard so far this year.
Online video is booming. I don’t think most brands can even keep up with the inventory available. From what I’ve seen, most client budgets set during a year can’t keep up with the production costs even if they fix the TV-spot-centric approach from the 1980s and 1990s. There’s simply far more demand than brands can meet. A fun problem for us in creative since we can argue to make more, more, more. User-generated video has tried to keep up but I think most would agree it’s often a bore and can be used in some places promotionally, but is no cure-all for what a brand needs throughout a year.
Have more good examples of online video advertising or thoughts? Post in comments below and mention what you think makes it creatively great.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 2 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 3 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 4 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 5 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Startup
- 6 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 7 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 8 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 9 Attorney Actually Starting to Believe Own Bullshit
- 10 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook