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July 23, 2009

Four Ways To Plan Around The 2009 Internet Video Backlash

By all measures, 2008 capped a banner period of growth for Internet video. In the span of a few short years, consumers have done what all the experts said was impossible: radically alter their video-watching behaviors, frequently trading in the “couch potato” experience of watching TV on the sofa to view snippets on the mobile phone or catch a missed show on the computer after the initial broadcast.But despite a tremendous amount of growth in the number of online video views, the global economic turmoil has — and will continue to have — an enormous impact on the digital video market, exacerbating what was always going to be a slow advertising growth curve.

Unsold inventory is impacting all corners of the industry, and skeptical TV and advertising executives looking at paltry revenues are telling themselves that the new platforms are to blame, when the sagging economy should in all fairness be shouldering much of the responsibility.

As the economy rebounds, there are four ways everyone in the industry can help contribute to the ongoing economic growth of online video advertising:

1. Encourage new advertising models and expanded inventory for alternative platforms now, while consumers continue to modify their TV-watching behavior. Studies are already showing that consumers would readily accept double, if not more, the number of ads currently deployed for mobile and online. As consumers further embrace these alternative ways of watching video content, platforms should codify alternative advertising models such as pause ads, a higher number of advertising breaks, and additional revenue streams such as subscription-based models.

2. Take advance of the digital format by repurposing content across multiple platforms, enabling advertisers to follow suit in complementary ways. As content is digitized, content owners should monetize across multiple platforms: mobile, online, even video gaming platforms. Advertisers should be encouraged to follow suit and make the most of cross-platform campaigns by incorporating geo-targeting, couponing, and other forward-thinking branding techniques that will incentivize consumers and drive measurable results for brands and products.

3. Know your data — and your target audience — inside and out. Consumer behavior around the searching and indexing of your content is measurable and quantifiable. Unlike broadcast, aggregate online video usage can be tracked — and extended — by making desired content easy to find, targeting similar videos to watch next, and serving targeted advertising throughout the experience that will be of interest to the consumer and of higher value to the advertiser. Integrated metadata can further empower multichannel monetization, building a larger audience across cable, broadband and mobile.

4.Encourage patience among peers, clients and business partners. Economic woes aside, online video advertising is a fledgling industry and we all need to encourage patience as the economy grows to support growing consumer behaviors. Forrester reported that more consumers watched Internet video in 2008 than on DVR last year, and DVR has been around since 1999. And DVR advertising is still finding its way. This new model of video watching is on a steep growth trajectory, but it will take time for advertisers to firmly embrace new ad models and the full potential of the industry.

Some experts predict the economy could be many months — or years — on the rebound. But as much as the economic turmoil might be beyond our control, we all should take every opportunity we can to help promote the online video advertising industry as it takes its first wobbly steps.

Ben Weinberger is chief executive officer of Digitalsmiths.

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