Digital Video 2009 Recap

IAB Leads Education and Infrastructure Development in Hot Digital Video Market

Digital video is one of the most vibrant platforms there is in advertising. That message was loud and clear at the sold-out IAB Digital Video Marketplace in New York on April 20. David Doty, Senior Vice President, Thought Leadership and Marketing, at the IAB, welcomed the packed house of brand marketers, ad agency executives and media professionals with numbers that don’t lie from the recently released IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report. Digital video advertising spend more than doubled in just one year, totaling $734 million in 2008. But, the day was about much more than just spending—it was about the creativity needed to forge deep consumer connections and the measurement options that prove its viability. The experts were all there to share the details.

As part of our ongoing digital video initiative, the IAB released Video Player–Ad Interface Definition Guidelines (VPAID) at the event. The guidelines advance the IAB’s strategy to greatly simplify the buying and selling of digital video media by building a strong foundational infrastructure and outlining methods for communication between video players and video ads. They provide specifications that facilitate the planning, production and implementation of digital video advertising and help all stakeholders in the interactive advertising industry. Marketers profit from reduced costs of production, creative agencies benefit from the decreased time it takes to execute a campaign and publishers gain from the expansion of the marketplace to more interactive digital advertising. During the afternoon session, Google’s Group Product Manager, Advertiser Products, Ari Paparo, and Turner Broadcasting System’s Senior Director, Strategic Advertising Technology, Joey Trotz, highlighted the work of the IAB Digital Video Committee, including VPAID, VAST, In-Stream Ad Format Guidelines and Best Practices, as well as their next endeavor, evangelism.

Both major themes of the day—creativity and measurement—were clear in the first keynote presentation.  Ana Maria Irazabal, Marketing Director with Pepsi and Luane Kohnke, SVP, Managing Director, Analytics and Accountability, R/GA, talked through Pepsi’s “Dear Mr. President” campaign, which invited consumers to submit digital videos to become part of an open “letter” to newly elected President Obama and drove traffic to the Pepsi web site, As the first campaign known to collect video through banner ads, the results exceed expectations—breaking previous submission records on YouTube and changing internal company standards while raising the bar for blending technology with creativity in digital video.

The morning also featured a Marketplace session, unique to IAB events, to introduce marketers and agencies to solutions providers that meet their needs and fit their budgets. Five providers—Eyeblaster, Panache, Quantcase, Babelgum and Innovid—gave multiple short-burst presentations focusing on their distinct value propositions. Attendees selected four 15-minute sessions—and some likened the experience to speed dating—wasting no time learning which solutions providers they’d like to learn more about and saving the time and complexity of scheduling individual meetings.

Measurement took center stage next. “Today in digital video we are data rich and knowledge poor,” said Matt Cutler, Vice President Marketing and Analytics, Visible Measures, during the Is This Thing Working? session. Panelists dove into the targeted data produced by campaigns to decipher what effective video really looks like. For Ron Cohen, VP, Product Planning, Eyeblaster, “dwell time” is a key, but Adam Gerber, CMO of Quantcast, feels that’s this gauge is to dependant on the type of brand itself. Different products require consumers to spend more time making a decision than others.

For Heroes fans in the audience, and any brand marketers interested in pairing a strong, existing brand with a television phenomenon, Sprint and Mindshare explored a case study with proven success. While Simon McPhillips, Media Director from Sprint, thoughtfully wowed the sold-out crowd with many of the outward facing aspects on the campaign, he stressed one, less glamorous point. “Spend time working through the business case,” he said. Sprint and Mindshare together did heavy research on the frontend to make sure they understood precisely what they wanted from the backend of the campaign before it started and that contributed as much as anything else to its success. “All great ideas are worthless if they don’t convert to sales,” confirmed McPhillips.

The spirit of collaboration continued, but took an interesting turn as Curt Hecht, President, VivaKi Nerve Center and Tracey Scheppach, SVP/Video Innovation Director, Starcom USA, shared the premise of “The Pool” during the afternoon keynote address. The first-of-its-kind partnership between video suppliers and advertisers—including competitors—the venture aims to find the right answers on effective digital video ad formats. When those formats are determined, Hecht emphasized that he intends to work with the IAB to bring them to the marketplace. “The more we all share, the faster we can all keep up with changes in people’s behaviors and the impact of advertising,” said Scheppach. And, to keep the audience wondering, they called out the fact that digital video is only the first lane of “the pool,” with more to come in other platforms. Merging resources and forming a collaborative new testing ground has proven to move research in the right direction.

The afternoon sessions took video in a different direction, focusing on the resurgence of cable in the advertising marketplace. “Cable is getting back in the game!” declared David Verklin, CEO of Canoe Ventures, who didn’t waste a second describing how the joint venture between the six largest cable operators will change the way consumers—and marketers—view television sets. With the end goal of complete household addressability, Verklin cautioned that the products initially released by Canoe, including their upcoming Community Addressable Messaging (CAM), are just the beginning of the process to “convert the television set to the television platform,” with many more in-depth projects to come in the next 18 months. Jacqueline Corbelli, Chairman and CEO, Brightline iTV, took a different approach by sharing the work her firm is already doing with iTV—quoting that 65 percent of the tv universe already has some form of iTV, defined as the ability to use a remote control to select viewing options beyond standard usage. One of her clients, Jon Stimmel, Director, Media Investment and Partnerships, Unilever, joined Corbelli onstage to share their collaborative work on the AXE brand, Bertolli, Dove Hair and others.

Control quickly became a major theme of the final panel. Content Distribution and Discovery: Dealing With the Big Debates brought together publisher and advertisers to discuss preferred methods of distribution. Avner Ronen, CEO of boxee, said no restrictions, what’s coming to your screen is freedom. Lisa Valentino, VP at ESPN, explained how they build content in response to their consumers needs, finding more mobile activity on the weekend and online activity peaking during weekday mornings – making it’s primetime. And, Brian Cusack, Sales Manager at YouTube, gave his thoughts on sharing and viewing—noting that ads get copied and shared along with their content all the time.

Digital video’s ability to capture consumer’s attention, drive sales and produce metrics that meet marketer’s demands has secured the platform’s continued growth. And, as the industry renews its focus on the art of advertising, versus the math and science, digital video is positioned to forge even more relationships between brand and consumer—in a time when every interaction makes a difference.