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The Video Evolution: From 468 x 60 to Video Viewability

Cast your mind back to your first internet ad experience…what did it look like? Was it something like this?

Guinness ad Snap

Today we’ll discover how your average ad format has been transformed from the static 468 x 60 ugly duckling to the sophisticated elegance of today's quality video offering. In motion and sound; video is how a platform for brands to sell their stories.

The Dawn of the “Pong”

Ten years ago or before the dawn of man in online years, the internet consisted mainly of 468 x 60-pixel GIF or JPG banners on the top of a webpage. Much like the Ice Age ushered in the birth of human civilisation the same can be said of the Pong Banner which gave live to “Rich Media” as we now know it.

Although still in the early stages and truly experimental they opened up a world of new features including video, sound and animation. These features caused offline advertisers to take notice, realising the possibilities to build a creative brand campaign and drive direct response. Creation of these ads required programming knowledge and slow dial up connections caused a slow website experience.

As broadband speeds surged so did the use of Rich Media leading to the increased popularity of In-stream video. While many Stone Age adapters simply copied their TV ads, the popularity and effectiveness of online video proved that the market was there to create a more engaging, original format for online.

Video Viewability is the Common Currency

*SWF forward to generation Millennial and video consumption has increased 75% YoY according to the IAB. This is particularly strong with the ever elusive 16-34 age demo. This has resulted in audience relevant content and custom built interactive formats to capture their attention. Mobile consumption with this demographic now stands at 60% with some bypassing traditional media altogether.

This growing investment has brought with it new challenges for Publishers and Account Managers alike as they work to ease the clients mind and fight for “viewability”. While this buzzword continues to grow, measurement of In-Stream both desktop and mobile is still in early stages. The main focus being on the length of time a video has been viewed and the proportion of the ad in-screen.

2015 will see industry standardisation of these formats with VAST and VPAID tags playing an integral part to see a structured measurement. This will mean advertisers and agencies, will no longer be at the peril of video networks; wondering where their video was shown and indeed, if it was shown at all.

This push for transparency saw Google announce in January a new directive whereby it will provide stats to publishers and advertisers to what extent their digital video are being seen. Google regard video as its Pre Fix special to move advertiser budgets from traditional media like TV to digital and see viewability as its main course offering.  Partner Select is another opportunity that Google have brought to market to marry the ever increasing buying power of programmatic with the increased demand for quality video content.

Captivating Creative…ooh la la

No doubt viewability is a good thing for the industry but it does create a unique challenge for creative developers.  The opening frames or seconds of a video allow only a very short window of opportunity to captivate your viewer and encourage them to continue watching, whilst also setting the context of your brand storyline. Most importantly, advertisers only pay for video if it has been viewed in full so the shorter the video the better.  Video lengths range from 15 seconds to 30, with most hitting the higher level of this range. Its likely ads will become shorter and snappier to meet these constraints.

Budget is a major factor for quality video production with many advertisers simply editing their TV offering, not taking into account the differences in audience, environment and consumption. According to Rob Feakins, creative lead at Publicis in US, “digital video creation is becoming less about story and more about short, clever bursts”. Let us watch as this creative challenge plays out to completion


So, ten years on from the “dawning of the pong” and even though we lead the way in digital advertising we still face similar problems. While we continue to grow and evolve with new technology and advances, so too does the challenges and expectations to advance measurement, performance and brand metrics. More on Google viewability here.

Creative Examples Leading the Way

If you need to “heat up” during the cold burst 

It’s as easy as “123” clever use of the 30” sec in the Irish market

Proving that content is always King 

...and that's a wrap on our Ad Ops Series! Stay tuned next month for April's Social Series.