ClickZ’s Online Video Advertising Conference

People who attend the System Seminar often ask me how I come up with so many great speakers for the event.

It’s no secret.

I’m constantly researching new trends and that often includes attending industry conferences.  It’s a huge investment of time and money. Sometimes it pays off, but I’d say on the average I’ve got to kiss 50 to 100 frogs to find one prince (or princess.)

Eleven days ago (June 16), I attended a one-day event called the Online Video Advertising Forum sponsored by ClickZ. (ClickZ is an online publication for Internet marketers – corporate Internet marketers.)

There’s definitely something to be learned by attending corporate-oriented events, but you’ve got to dig through mountains of “corporate speak” to  come up with gems.

The thing to remember about conferences like this is that the panel members often have to toe the party line of whatever company or industry segment they’re in.

For example, one of the panels was heavy with advertising executives. They have a strong vested interest in keeping things simple – for themselves. In their ideal version of the future, Internet video ads are just like TV spots, bought and sold in 30 and 60 second increments with no accountability. Great for the ad agency. Not so great for the companies spending the ad dollars.

One of the members of a panel devoted to “Metrics” actually expressed relief that now that video was so hot, the kind of tracking forced by banner ad sales and pay-per-click wasn’t so urgent since video is primarily a branding medium.

In other words, terrible, self-serving advice that would sink any small business person who tried to follow it.

This problem of industry-skewed advice is not unqiue to ClickZ events. It happens at any event where ad agency people are involved. (The ability to look good, sling buzz words, and sound impressive while saying nothing seems to be the main qualification for ad agency jobs.)

However, one panel did shine. It was called “Technical Innovations in Video Advertising.” The guys on it were a lot closer to the technology and more interested in unleashing the power of the new media instead of figuring out how to make it fit in a convenient box.

Some highlights:

Brightcove‘s rep, Adam Gerber, talked about his company’s video syndication service.  Their mission is to make it easier for publishers (content providers) and advertisers (marketers) to get together and make money from video content.

Here’s how their service works:

Say you are a content provider, like the Reuters news service and you have tons of video content. You can run that content on your own site, sell ads, and make a little bit of money. But with Brightcove’s help, you can find other sites (in the case of Birghtcove client Reuters thousands of sites) to feed your content to.

Members of the “network” get a branded video player from Brightcove and all the hosting and serving is handled by them too.  The cherry on top is that after the network is in place, Brightcove becomes your ad rep and finds advertisers to run their spots with your programming.

As the content owner, you get a cut of the ad revenue; the network members who run your content get a cut; and Brightcove takes a cut. Nice model, huh? Brand new revenue fo everybody concerned and Brightcove does all the work.

Eyewonder is a service for corporate advertisers so there’s not much there for us “bootstrap” types – expect for this: AdWonder. It’s a new “drag and drop” design tool they’re making available to their clients which dramatically accelerates the Flash design process by reducing the need for custom coding.

The company reports that projects that used to take 24 hours to build are now being knocked out in 4 hours.  The catch?  AdWonder is just for Eyewonder clients – but that doesn’t mean you can’t write them and take a shot at being a beta tester. (Michael Griffin was Eyewonder’s representative at the conference.)

Rovion‘s rep Len Ostroff demonstrated their InPerson technology which lets a video character walk across a web page. You’ve seen it.

The cost of these kinds of ads puts it beyond the reach of us’n for now, but some day I can see the technology becoming a lot less expensive, Meanwhile, here’s an extremely valuable tip I got from Ostroff (maybe the best one from the whole day): Put video on your “Thank You” page to pitch an upsell. Brilliant! Here’s how 1-800-FLOWERS used this idea.

Chris Young talked about Klipmart which is video management and delivery service for ad agencies serving large corporate clients.  They’ve got a page on their web site that shows some of the new Internet video ad formats that are currently being used by deep pockets advertisers.  Yahoo Advertising recommends Klipmart to its clients and created this helpful spec sheet to show what the company has to offer.

Did I get my money’s worth from the conference?

It cost a day and a half of my time and just under $1,000 in out-of pocket expenses (tuition, travel, lodging, and meals.)

If I were a small business person looking for actionable idea, I’m not sure attending this event would have thrilled me, but as the producer of the System Seminar, this kind of expenditure is part of the cost of doing business. It’s something System students (and readers of this blog) benefit from.

Also, I’m pretty sure the “video on the thank you page” idea will give me a very happy return on my investment. If you try it, let me know how it pays out for you.

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– Ken McCarthy

P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.

If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.

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