Participatory Marketing and YouTube InVideo Ads: Still Missing the Long Tail…
...YouTube has made an important step in creating a novel advertising model that presupposes an active and engaged user. In order to fully leverage the potential of user-generated content and the potential of YouTube as a networked community, YouTube will need to innovate even more and create even more participatory models of marketing in which users are not “targets”, but creative co-participants in product promotion..
A few days ago YouTube launched an innovative method of web advertising, “InVideo ads”, which consists of transparent animated flash “overlays” that are superimposed on selected videos. The method reflects a delicate balance between the demands for optimal user experience and the inherently intrusive nature of advertisements. Here is how YouTube introduced the InVideo ads to their community:
“…Today we're offering select partners the ability to incorporate YouTube InVideo ads into their content. These are animated overlays that appear on the bottom 20 percent of a video. If you're interested by what you see there, clicking on the overlay launches a deeper interactive video ad that we think is relevant and entertaining. (The video you were watching is temporarily paused.) If you choose not to click on the overlay, it will simply disappear, so that you're in full control of your YouTube experience...”
NewTeeVee showed screen shots of YouTube experiments with InVideo ads already in May and the recent version seems to be more animated than the previous one. I saw the 20th Century Fox's The Simpsons running on Warner Music Group video and must admit that the ad was pretty non-intrusive. In some ways it was actually funny and enjoyable to watch Homer Simpson running over the screen, and it felt almost like a parody mashup produced by a teenager who wants to amuse his friends.
The InVideo ads invite the user to engage at a deeper level than traditional web ads (YouTube claims they have five to ten times the click-through rates on InVideo Ads versus traditional display ads). YouTube realized that when their users start a video, they need time to get into it, and thus they delay the InVideo ad display by 10-15 seconds. If they interrupt or display ads before that window, viewers are unlikely to engage, and are more likely to abandon videos as they do with preroll ads. When a user does engage with the ad and click to expand it, 75% return to watch to the end of the video. Shashi Seth, YouTube Group Product Manager, suggests that the InVideo ads can be targeted based on user demographics (age and gender), location, day part, and content genre. In addition to being able to target users, marketers would also be provided with metrics on click-throughs and ad viewers, as well as YouTube community metrics (links, comments, favorites, subscriptions, etc.).
YouTube has apparently created a non-intrusive and user-engaging method of in-video advertisement that has received fairly positive reviews from advertisers, publishers, and some bloggers. However, many YouTube users have openly expressed their dissatisfaction and threatened to leave. Although some analysts argue that InVideo advertising will eventually alienate YouTubers and cause them to leave the site, in the short run, I do not anticipate a massive migration from YouTube, since so far only a relatively small number of professionally made videos are targeted with the InVideo ads. In the long run, however, YouTube will have to find a way to monetize user-generated content from the long tail of DIY videos. Such videos are often of low quality, and overlaying them with professionally made InVideo ads may not be as appealing to viewers or advertisers.
YouTube has made an important step in creating a novel advertising model that presupposes an active and engaged user. In order to fully leverage the potential of user-generated content and the potential of YouTube as a networked community, YouTube will need to innovate even more and create even more participatory models of marketing in which the users are not “targets”, but creative co-participants in product promotion (e.g., “word of mouth” marketing). The opportunity seems to be to engage their audience of videomakers not merely as consumers of brand messages, but as authentic producers and viral distributors of them. More about participatory marketing in my next post.