Monday, March 19, 2007

Video, Schmideo -- D1SPLAY RULEZZZ!!!

There's no doubt about it -- video might be on the cutting edge, along with other 2.0 buzzworthy strategies like RSS, podcasts, blogs and the like -- but after house list email marketing and the low-hanging fruit of search, display advertising is still planned to be larger than any of the others, even in 2007. This in eMarketer:

And even though rich media spending is growing incredibly and display spending is topping out, it won't be until 2011 when rich outstrips display:

People just like to stick with what's familiar and easier to manage. When rich becomes as easy to manage as display, that's when the tipping point will really occur.

Click and Buy in Online Video: Fine Idea, Limited Execution

This BizReport story says that Kohl's has become the first advertiser to to use MSN's new VHL (Video Hyperlink) technology. (Microsoft loves those cool little three-letter extension handles.) When you're watching an MSN video (actually, a Kohl's video on MSN Movies site) and an item on sale at Kohl's come onto the screen, a big green arrow starts flashing in the lower right hand corner. That's your cue to mouse over the items for sale and click it. At that point the video pauses, and another browser window pops open to the Kohl's site to the page where you can purchase the item.

It's a cool technology and the idea is almost as cool as the technology -- you can see the video in action here. This execution does have some limitations, however:

  • People have to want to view a promotional video, such as a Kohl's marketing video, to see it in action. This is probably not a practical application for content-oriented video.
  • In this video, you have to move quickly, say within three to four second, to click on the item or it's gone, and it takes a while to figure out how to go back and see something you like again. (Just clicking on the time status bar behind the current point won't do it.)
  • In addition, the model in this video is always moving, so it's easy to click and miss.
  • The video gets interrupted, which hurts the flow of the experience.
  • You can't click on the green arrow and choose the featured item on the video -- they should consider allowing that.

All in all, it's a good first effort, and I can't imagine it won't improve with subsequent executions.

Viral: It's Not For Just Anybody Anymore

So says this Mediapost article (free registration required). A Dynamic Logic survey reveals that 50% of over 1,000 respondents in the marketing field think of viral marketing as a fad, whereas only 24% think of it as a marketing strategy with traction.

I've thought for sometime that successful viral campaigns are like catching lightning in a bottle. It is extremely difficult to predict with any level of certainly that something you create might catch on with your audience so strongly that they forward it to all their friends. Marketing viral is particularly tricky in this regard because no one wants to look like a marketing tool to their friends, so advertisers either have to mute their brand identity in the campaign -- which obviously defeats the purpose -- or they need to do something to take the "brand hero" aspect down a notch, such as injecting an ironic twist into the execution.

But because successful viral relies on insight into zeitgeist -- knowing the exact right mood at precisely the right moment -- it seems more likely that these campiagns will happen at best by hunch, and at worst by accident, than by careful planning, which by definition is a process that takes place over time. That, I think, may cement the idea that successful viral marketing is lightning in a bottle.

I also wonder whether there's a little bit of wishful thinking on the part of marketers in this survey as well: perhaps if they call it a fad, they can convince their management or their clients that it's not reasonable to ask for it, thus removing the likelihood of being set up for failure.