June 6, 2009 – The Internet was supposed to be the outlet for video that would deliver a much more compelling venue for advertisers owing to the medium's usage tracking capabilities. But it turns out that the ROI advertisers are looking for requires far more customization and granularity in measuirement metrics than many players anticipated.
This reality became eminently clear at a day-long confab staged by media agency Digitas during Internet Week, a week-long series of events, conferences and networking opportunities centered on Web advertising held in early June in New York. The "Digitas New Front" conference at a trendy meeting space in SoHo was designed to showcase opportunities for brands to sponsor Web entertainment.
Throughout the day, new media shops such as Deca, Next New Networks, Revision3, CBS Interactive, Fremantle Media and Generate presented their upcoming digital programming slates, while marketers like Subway, Kraft, IBM, Subway and Miller-Coors discussed the process of bringing branded content to the marketplace and measuring performance.
Across the board the message was that advertisers aren't interested in backing Web content without having access to precisely the right performance data. That's why Web publishers such as Next New Networks and blip.tv rely on a plethora of research from measurement firms such as TubeMogul and Visible Measures when pitching advertisers on Web properties, their executives said.
Measuring engagement, for instance, is a big component of tracking ROI, said Lance Podell, CEO of Next New Networks, which provides both total views and minutes of engagement for its shows in its pitches to advertisers . Access to such metrics is helping the company make financial inroads. During the first four months of 2009 Next New Networks has booked the same amount of ad revenue as the company did in all of 2008, he said. New advertisers include Warner Bros.'s "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" and other movies from the filmmaker.
The company is on track to turn a profit this year and that's noteworthy for a couple reasons. First, Next New Networks has raised more than $20 million in venture funding and has been the target of constant scrutiny as a result. Also, other digital studios have tanked recently, such as ManiaTV and 60 Frames, both of which went under this year.
Blip.tv aims to share with sponsors information on audiences, views, total views, engagement and also purchase intent, said Dina Kaplan, co-founder of blip.tv. For now, Web publishers must provide more metrics than other media venues because Web as an entertainment medium is still proving itself.
The sheer range of data can seem overwhelming, but advertisers will spend more on the Web if they can tailor campaigns using specific metrics both on what they're buying and what they get for that buy, said Amanda Richman, director of digital at MediaVest. She added that every advertiser and campaign has different goals. That's why the availability of many different sources, such as Nielsen, comScore, Omniture, Hitwise and internal data helps.
"It's definitely different for each client," she said.
Carl's Jr. recently rolled out an online video campaign with eight YouTube stars, said Alex Levy, director of branded entertainment at Google. "Brands increasingly have an appetite for Web content and the DVR has made everything old new again. We have to keep figuring out how to integrate into the content itself," she said.