surfing commercials

May 27, 2009 ·

this was something i wanted to write about last week, but got caught up in my 3 part series. a company called ShortTail Media is introducing a new online video format called D30, which stands for digital 30. that's right, a :30 sec online video unit, and one that completely interrupts your surfing from one page to another.

from the first time i saw this, i was, for lack of a better word, queasy. for a number of reasons, this didn't sit right with me.

1) that it is a :30 sec spot is alone reason enough for this to be considered bad. that length of commercial should not exist online unless it is opt-in. the online world is about bite-sized chunks of information and consuming lots of them. this flies in the face of that. most of the time people don't even spend 30 seconds on a page to begin with so the time spent ratio is of. same as a :30 sec pre-roll ad in front of a short video clip, doesn't quite equate.

2) the flow is off. from page to page with video in between seems weird. it's mixing types of content. in tv it's all video, so it's expected. not true here.

3) i'm sure they downplay it, but what's the load time on a full-screen piece of video with a 30 second runtime? i'm sure it's not short and i'm sure there's plenty of room for delays in downloading that will only further detract from the whole experience.

4) then there's the company's flippant disregard for user experience which is arrogant. yes, we should be pursuing 'bigger, bolder creative' as the ceo puts it, but tempered with the user in mind, not disregarding them as he goes on to say in that we should 'be less sensitive to user experience.'

i think television is a great user experience. there's of course the screen size and often times communal nature of the experience and the commercial breaks add some tension, anticipation, a break to reality to have human interaction (you may have other reasons). it could be improved with shorter breaks of course. just because the tv model is good, doesn't mean it should be taken online and applied in the same manner. it's not the same medium.

i get the reasoning behind taking this tact and largely agree:
- it's easy to ignore standard online ads
- are small and typically in the margins of the page
- they don't interrupt the flow of content (as happens in other media)
- smaller size may lead to less branding opportunities

however, this is the wrong solution to these problems and the problems with current online video experiences. i am in complete agreement, we do need different ad formats online with better breakthrough potential. i want to answer these questions and come up with solutions (ie. actual value in reading this), but don't know the answer yet. if i did, i'd probably have a lot more money. i just know that this isn't it.

i think the sites who will support these ads will do a quick about-face once they see their visitors drop-off. this will be a short-lived venture.




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