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Not So Fast: 2009 Online Video Advertising Year In Review

EveryZing had a dynamic year, starting in April when it announced a strategic partnership with YuMe and ending with a relaunch as Ramp in November. EveryZing’s business was helping sites get their audio and video content noticed by search engines, and the partnership with YuMe let the company’s partner sites fully manage their own in-stream ad campaigns. Partners could also join YuMe’s advertizing network and get instant ad content that way. The system matched video and advertising content so that ads always had the best fit.

The recession itself played a major role in video advertising in 2009. While online video viewing continued to expand at a terrific rate, the growth in ad spending began to slow. Magna, which provides advertising forecasting and analysis, predicted online video ad spending would grow to $700 million, an increase of 32%. That was a revision of the company’s forecasts from July 2008, which forecast a growth rate of 45% and total spending of $800 million. The recession had stifled many budgets, the report said, although the category was still robust. Magna predicted decelerating growth for following years as well, with total video advertising spending reaching $865 million in 2010 (up 24%), and $1.010 billion in 2011 (up 17%).

Meanwhile, Google ended one video advertising program in March and began a new one in April. Google TV Ads began in beta as an invitation-only program where advertisers could place video ads into the commercial breaks of television programs streamed online. The program had a familiar Google design, with advertisers targeting programs and bidding on a cost-per-thousand views basis. The program put ads in the same spots that were intended for advertising when the shows ran on television.

A small feud broke out in May, when Hulu accused Nielsen of low-balling the site’s traffic numbers, and not by a small amount. Nielsen reported that Hulu had declining visitors in March and April, with a total number of 8.9 million. Offering a far different perspective was comScore, which said the site had 42 million visitors in the same period. Hulu delivered an increased number of videos in those months, so were fewer visitors simply watching more? Did so many people hate the Alec Baldwin Super Bowl ad that they stayed away? All the numbers really proved was that the process of measuring video site viewership was still in its infancy. It’s "still the wild wild West," said Robert Davis, leader of Ogilvy’s interactive video practice, in The New York Times.

But viewers are just one of the measures that ad buyers need to be concerned with. In May, BrightRoll launched a service called Video Impact, which is designed to measure the effectiveness of online advertising. It was based on Nielsen’s NetEffect service and worked by analyzing customer behavior. The service tracked study participants from their exposure to an ad right through to the purchase, if they made one.

YuMe introduced a cool tool for advertisers in May with its InSynch video takeover ad unit. With InSynch, advertisers could easily synchronize the content in banner ads and video ads on the same page; they could even make content bounce between them. The clever option gave advertisers a new way to grab eyeballs by showing viewers something they’d never seen before.

Tremor Media generated major ink in June with the release of a new video ad format. After the completion of a beta test period, the company offered it 900-plus site partners (which reach 57 million unique visitors) a new offering called V-Choice. With V-Choice, viewers first see a 5–15-second video ad and are then presented with a choice of seeing more or skipping the ad entirely. While it might seem natural that viewers would want to skip an ad if they could, the company’s CEO, Jason Glickman, told Mediaweek that only about 20% of the people who viewed the first few seconds chose to skip over the rest.

Another new advertising option came from YouTube, which added call-to-action overlays to its arsenal. The ads sit over the lower portion of a YouTube video and include a call to get the viewer to click away from the site with an embedded URL. The ads track viewer behavior, whether that means making a purchase, offering a donation, or something else. For advertisers, interactions are tracked on their YouTube Insight account pages.

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