Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Marketers Begin to Assess HD Video Ads

Higher resolution. Richer graphics. Sharper images. The release of Adobe's latest Flash player has made high definition video advertisements feasible online. But their predominant application is in the expandable banner placement, rather than in-stream.

DoubleClick and ad network Brightroll are among the firms to introduce ad units that leverage Adobe's Flash Player 9 support for high-def video, and advertisers including Intel and Epson have already jumped in. Both offer user-initiated, in-page units that can expand to full screen and play in high-def. DoubleClick's technology senses whether the user has the bandwidth and player capability to handle HD before serving the ad.

Adobe itself was one of the first to place HD video ads. It worked with DoubleClick to create and distribute the ads as part of its "Flash on" campaign. The effort sought to reach two groups of prospects: broadcast and media industry professionals, and media savvy consumers. One goal was to highlight how people currently enjoy content powered and enabled by Flash.

"We wanted to get out there and remind people of the ubiquity and performance of Flash power," said John Travis, VP of brand marketing at Adobe. According to Travis, Flash Player 9 was installed by over 90 percent of connected PCs within the first year of release.

Epson has run HD ads as well, also through DoubleClick. The enhanced resolution seemed a good fit for a company that produces printers. "DoubleClick... approached us and we said count us in," said Jordan Kretchmer, associate creative director at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners (BSSP), the creative agency for Epson. Kretchmer said banners have performed well for Epson in the past, but streaming video hasn't.

Both Adobe and BSSP said engagement was strong. According to Adobe, people spent five to 10 times longer with its HD ads than the average time spent on a similar ad unit.

Not surprisingly, entertainment companies are most interested in the offering. "We've had a large proportion of theatrical advertisers," said Ari Paparo, group product manager for advertiser products at Google. He said DoubleClick is actively marketing the capability to clients, and that publishers have experienced no pushback. "Since it's user-initiated, there's little risk."

Video sites have yet to embrace HD content in a major way. Hulu has an HD Gallery, consisting of movie trailers. And ABC brands its video player in HD though only some of its inventory plays in high def. YouTube has yet to make the leap. Ultimately, there simply isn't much HD inventory.

BSSP's Kretchmer expects HD to become the de-facto standard for shooting ads. "I personally foresee a future where HD is the only definition, where there is no 4x3 ratio," he said. While the agency is not using HD video in any current campaigns, it is top of mind going forward.

"It should be something consumers expect, and something clients should expect their agencies to do," he said.

[via clickz.com]

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