Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Viacom Says It Has Cracked the Web Ad Riddle, Using Lots of Web Ads

mtvn-bWant to make Web video watchers and Web video advertisers happy? Do it with a short ad at the beginning of the clip, and then another ad that pops up while the clip is running.

So says Viacom’s MTV, which reached that conclusion after testing various ad units in more than 50 million video clips it ran across its various sites. Viacom (VIA) says the intro-and-overlay package works best for advertisers’ “brand lift,” which it defines via metrics like unaided awareness, aided awareness and purchase intent.

And, it insists, customers like it, too! You can see an example at the bottom of this post, as well as a schematic that shows the order and timing of the ads.

This isn’t necessarily groundbreaking stuff: Overlays combined with another ad message have been popular with advertisers for some time. And when a company that makes its money selling ads boasts about how great its ads are, it’s best to accept those claims with just a pinch of reserved skepticism.

But these kinds of studies and promotions are taken seriously within the ad business, and Web publishers of all sorts are eager to find new ad formats (see–or try to ignore–the new ginormous ads rolling out this summer).

Meanwhile, as MediaPost notes, Publicis’s VivaKi is working with video providers, including Hulu, CBS (CBS), Microsoft (MSFT) and Yahoo (YHOO), to produce its own “killer ad unit,” which is expected to debut next year. And Google’s (GOOG) YouTube, which once avoided ads like the plague, is now trying every possible combination it can find.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work