A Hot, Affordable New Advertising Opportunity Consumer habits show online video is the best value for advertisers.

By Susan Gunelius

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Mongkol Chuewong | Getty Images

In the last quarter of 2008, young people began spending more time watching online video content than watching television. That's a shift that can't be ignored by advertisers, particularly as manufacturers prepare to roll out broadband-enabled TVs. And these numbers are poised to grow even higher.

According to a 2008 report by eMarketer on consumer media habits, the number of online video advertising viewers in the U.S. grew from 59.6 percent of internet users in 2007 to 67.2 percent of internet users in 2008. That number is expected to skyrocket to more than 80 percent by 2012.

It remains a challenge to track the ROI for online advertising, but if these numbers are to be believed, someone is actually watching online video ads. In fact, a lot of people are watching. Both large and small businesses can find a place in the online video advertising market; but the key to leveraging the power, reach and opportunity of online video advertising requires highly-targeted placement and messaging as well as out-of-the-box thinking.

3 Steps To Get Started

  1. Get targeted. Online video ads must be highly targeted based on the content being delivered in the video. This is the challenge for advertisers, who must find ways to locate relevant content for their target audiences and then create complementary ads that add value to the viewing experience rather than simply delay or interrupt it. Online video viewers move faster than television viewers. An irrelevant ad can do more harm to a brand than good. Small startups, such as PlaceVine.com , are working to meet that challenge by providing a place for online producers and marketers to connect. Furthermore, ad networks and serving companies such as LiveRail.com , BlackArrow.tv , Brightroll.com and YuMe.com can help you place your ads for maximum return on your investment.
  2. Go against tradition. The companies that learn to use out-of-the-box thinking for online video advertising and challenge the traditional online advertising methods will reap long-term rewards. Online video viewing is on the rise, but consumption habits are still evolving. What works on television won't necessarily work online. Instead, throw out the 30-second commercial and get creative.

    For example, rather than simply republishing your existing TV commercial in its entirety online, try a short ad that focuses on a single message of less than 15 seconds to appear before the start of an online video (called a "pre-roll" ad). Or try an animated overlay (which appears at the top or bottom of an online video during a targeted portion of that video, where viewers can click on it for more information). Work with a knowledgeable online video production company such as PixelFish.com or TurnHere.com, which can help you create the best type of ad to meet your goals.
  3. Be integrated. Online video advertising can't be a stand-alone effort. Instead, it must be part of an integrated marketing plan to achieve maximum effectiveness and success. It's just one small piece of the puzzle, but that piece is growing in importance every day as more and more consumers shift to online video from other media. The question is whether you're going to get creative and be first to catch their attention through online video advertising or if you'll have to play catch-up later. Consider Miller Brewing Co., which stirred up buzz after airing a one-second commercial during the Super Bowl that was closely integrated with the brand's online video advertising, website, social media support and other promotion efforts for the Miller High Life brand. In other words, create an online ad that works with your other marketing efforts to develop a seamless, targeted message to boost response rates. Repetition and consistency through various media can deliver big results.

Susan Gunelius

Marketing, Branding, Copywriting, Email and Social Media Expert

Susan Gunelius is CEO of KeySplash Creative Inc., a marketing communications and strategic branding company. She has authored a dozen books about marketing, branding, social media, copywriting and technology and is the founder and editor in chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, a blog for business women.

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