The Three Tenets of New Advertising

Mari Silbey —  April 15, 2009


I’ve been following the evolution of advertising on TV and the Web and have come up with three tenets that seem to fit the new model for companies looking to promote and sell their wares using a video platform.

  1. Make it easy to impulse buy
  2. Give away content
  3. Get viewers involved, or “engaged”

Now that the 30-second spot is on its way out, advertisers are scrambling to find the next commercial standard. No one’s settled on a single format yet, but there are commonalities among the different experiments taking place. To compare, consider the work being done by Overlay.TV online and Showtime (via Itaas and Biap) on cable TV. I spoke to Overlay.TV’s Ben Watson last month and saw Showtime’s latest demo at The Cable Show.

Overlay.TV was founded in 2007 and is putting much of its focus now on advertising solutions that link to purchasing options, add pop-up content, and slice and dice video for customizable playlists and ad insertion. For example, links embedded in Sarah McLaughlin music videos powered by Overlay.TV replicate the MTV pop-up video experience and provide viewers with direct links to buy the latest McLaughlin album. On the Jonas Brothers site, visitors can use Overlay.TV’s technology to record their own video karaoke performances. And the company has opened up its API to let people integrate the Overlay.TV solutions with their own analytics and customer information management systems. Developers seem to be responding well. According to Overlay.TV, requests for API keys have come in every day since the API was made available two months ago.

Meanwhile, the rebirth of the interactive standard EBIF for cable is leading to a wave of new advertising apps like the latest Showtime marketing tool. Built by Itaas, the application lets viewers surf through a menu of options, watch free episodes of top shows, and purchase the premium channel with a click of the remote control. Simple, but compelling. I’ve never been a Showtime subscriber, but give me free shows on a night when my DVR is looking empty, and I just might impulse buy.

There’s always a price to pay for good content, even in a new media world, but if advertising starts making my life easier and more entertaining, I’m willing to pay the piper.