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Nah, That's Not Just an Ad. Is It?

December 11, 2008  

You learned in school that there's no such thing as a free lunch. But as cable TV's popularity wanes against the force of the almighty Internet, it looks like "free lunch" has become stat quo: nobody wants to pay for TV shows, movies or SNL video clips anymore. They want 'em free. So, how do you give viewers the video content they want without going out of business? Here are some options:

Product placement. It's a time-honored trick, and even Lonelygirl15 did it. Plus, online product placement boasts a benefit its TV-based counterpart lacked: the ability to impulse-buy. Jivox's Watch 'n' Buy lets users buy things they like—right out of videos they're watching.

Overlay ads. According to Google and MediaVest, which scanned the brain activity of online ad viewers, overlays—transparent ad messages that hover above a video, then disappear—are "compelling and engaging," especially when combined with banners. Conversion is suspect, but if you're concerned about building brand recognition, this is a handy, if costly, option.

Pre- and post-rolls. These are generally 15-second ads that appear before or after a video. On sites like Hulu or ABC.com, which stream TV shows, they're usually mandatory.


Blank space placement. Keystream recently launched SmartAds, which scans videos for open spaces and pops an ad into them. Ad types available include a static logo, a round clickable unit, and a rectangular expandable unit. Expect to pay in CPMs.

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