Jim Louderback

September 10, 2011

Naked Hobo Santas: Avoiding the 3 Deadliest Pitfalls for Video Ads

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , — Jim @ 9:38 am

Surprise, Surprise, you pay for what you get
You pay for what you get…

–Dave Matthews Band

Naked_Santa-thumb-260x107-6908Buying online video ads can be fraught with peril. Why? Because buyers need to worry about how their ad is streamed, where it plays and what it’s adjacent to — and because unscrupulous or clueless sellers can take your money and put your brand at risk.

Let’s start with the Conditions of Play. When you’re buying inventory for your pre-roll or sponsored segment, it’s very important to know not only how that video was initiated, but also the intent of the viewer. Video ad networks, paid distribution services and even emerging DSPs are more than happy to take your money and then autoplay your ad into a 300 x 240 unit "below the fold" (i.e., on page but off screen) with the sound off — what I call an ABFSO view.

There is value in an ABFSO view, but not much. Certainly your target had an opportunity to see that ad, but the likelihood of influencing her in any single session is quite small. On the flip side, it’s far more likely that a viewer will watch and engage with your pre-roll if it is served up immediately prior to a video they’ve specifically requested. Somewhere in the middle are the new "pay to watch" video ad units, where a user opts in to watching your ad in exchange for something of value — typically virtual goods or currency in an online game, or other digital items of value.

But today, those very different types of ad views are often bundled together and sold for a single CPM. That’s crazy, and luckily it’s starting to change. Google and Tubemogul, for example, are currently proposing a new view metric to the IAB — called cost per view — that relies on a user initiation or action. No autoplay need apply. Other initiatives from Vivaki and Kantar Video will increasingly help buyers understand the value of different types of views.

Even before these new models emerge, avoiding the play-type problem is relatively easy. Ask your ad network — or the sites you’re purchasing — whether they support autoplay or only user-initiated views. Price your buy accordingly.

The next pitfall: Page Adjacency, or which sites or channels are actually showing your ad: This problem has been around for a while, but has been exacerbated by the increased demand for video ads. What happens is that your ad runs on a variety of sites, some that probably aren’t the right sort of "neighborhood" for your message — including torrent directories, gambling sites and other unsavory destinations.

Avoiding these sites is also relatively easy. Either only buy inventory from sites you’re familiar with, or ask your supplier for a list of 100% of the sites they’re running on — both before the campaign starts and after it’s over. Verify the integrity of those sites and don’t pay for substandard placements.

The last problem, Stream Adjacency, is unfortunately more insidious, more damaging and harder to fix. Your video may be playing on an acceptable site, and it may be playing before a user-selectable video. Even so, the video that comes after your pre-roll, or under your overlay, might not be something your brand wants to be associated with. And it’s often impossible to figure out in advance.

For example, last week I saw a Sierra Mist pre-roll that led into a video about a naked hobo Santa wielding an oversized marital aid; Cindy Crawford’s Propel pre-roll followed by a raunchy clip glorifying male sex organs; a Subway spot before a particularly gruesome murder of a stripper; and an ASUS ad over-layed on top of a guy savagely beating his girlfriend.

I might be going out on a limb here, but I’ll bet that none of these brands were hoping for that kind of association.

The root of these uncomfortable associations is the same as the Site Adjacency problem: Unscrupulous or clueless networks are aggregating questionable properties so they can build up enough scale to serve the quantity of pre-rolls that big advertisers demand.

Unfortunately, unlike websites, which can easily be scanned for undesirable adjacencies, you actually have to watch the video to see if it’s safe for your brand. That’s because we still haven’t developed technology that can reliably scan a video to determine what’s inside. And that means that networks — including my own Revision3 — need to be diligent about knowing what’s running inside every video they monetize. If we don’t remove or warn our clients about potentially questionable content, we’re going to lose the trust of big brands and agencies.

It also means that buyers need to take a more active role in determining where your video plays. First, only work with trusted sites or networks that promise brand-safe programming. But that’s not enough. Next you need to get a list of all the shows, all the channels, and all the videos that your ads are streaming aside. And finally, you have to act like Ronald Regan during his negotiations with Russia:, "Trust but Verify." Invest the time to do more than just a cursory once over before signing that contract, or cutting that check.

January 5, 2011

Exclusive Video: 3D Camcorder from Sony – No Glasses Needed!

So far 3D has been a failure. The bulky glasses and expensive sets – not to mention the lack of content – have made it less than a savior for the CE industry.

But that all changed today at CES, as Sony released it’s new camcorder – a Handycam that lets just about anyone shoot 3D video.

This amazing Sony 3D camera lets you monitor your video in 3D without glasses. It’s the first ever camera to include 2 lenses, two image sensors and two complete processing paths! And it also makes it drop dead easy to create in 3D – now anyone can do it.

But what about editing? Our exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Sony’s HDR-TD10 also includes a look at a new 3D editing device coming soon from Sony too. It’ll be available in April for $2,000!

Watch Exclusive Video of Sony’s 3D Camcorder, and See How It Works!

We’ll have much more from CES as the show progresses. For all the updates, bookmark our CES 2011 special report!

Amazing Device Turns Your iPhone Into a Car Stereo!

There are a wide range of ways to stream audio from your iPhone to your car stereo, from the mini-jack to bluetooth and more. But they all involve fumbling with a separate unit, which can be downright dangerous on the road.

Now there’s a better way! The new O’car actually makes your iPhone or iPod Touch an integral part of the stereo. You hop into the car, plug the iPhone into your head unit, and it turns into an automotive device – letting you listen to music, see GPS and use heads up navigation and much more.

A downloadable app integrates the phone’s OS and software into the head unit – and the iPhone actually swivels horizontally and vertically – this has to be seen to be believed! It also includes a 4×55 watt amp with a subwoofer control, and even supports multitasking (although we’re not sure how).

The unit will be available in the first quarter of 2011 for around $300

See the Amazing iPhone Car Stereo In Action!

CES Tablet-a-palooza!

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Jim @ 1:09 pm

This year at CES 2011, we expect everyone and their monkey to release new tablet-based computers designed to compete with Apple’s iPad. The flood started in advance, with Visio showing off its new tablet and phone over the weekend. But now that CES is about to begin, the new tablets are coming out in earnest.

It’s not the first time at the rodeo for both Toshiba and Lenovo, who unveiled their slick Android and Windows 7 tablets yesterday.

The first, from Lenovo, runs Windows 7, and comes on the heels of one of last year’s most blogged about product, Lenovo’s U1 iPad Killer – which was unceremoniously killed a few months later. This one offers similar convertible capabilities – it works as a win7 tablet, along with including a snap in keyboard that turns it into a notebook replacement. Lenovo’s releasing a wide range of tablet-style device here at the show, along with all-in-ones and more. But this one’s a pretty cool way to start

Exclusive Video of Lenovo’s New iPad Killer

Toshiba also has extensive tablet experience. They’ve been making stand-alone and keyboard convertible models for more than ten years, mostly running Windows for Pen – Microsoft’s failed early attempts to corner the tablet world.

Their new mystery model runs on the Gingerbread variant of Android, and includes an innovative display technology that makes the screen among the best we’ve seen. The tablet senses light, and provides on-the-fly image enhancement when the unit moves from low-light to bright lights. It has to be seen – and our video captures it perfectly

WATCH Toshiba’s Innovative Screen Technology Enhance the Mystery Tablet Display


We’ll have much more from CES as the show progresses. For all the updates, bookmark our CES 2011 special report!

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