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Video advertising can be an effective avenue for reaching an audience. The term video advertising is used, here, to refer to all full-motion visual presentations of information. Most such presentations include audio and text elements but what differentiates video advertising from other forms of advertising is its full-motion video aspect. The use of video advertising has grown with the proliferation of video-ready equipment in American homes—televisions, cable channels, VCRs, DVDs, and computers connected to the Internet via broadband or high-speed connections.
In the past, video gave advertisers the ability to reach primarily a broad audience and was, therefore, oriented toward consumers. This has begun to change. The market for video advertising is growing as high-speed connections to the Internet make video viable online. Many new technologies are making video presentations viable in unexpected places (AdsOnFeet, wearable flat-screen LCD TV vests) and on small new devices like video cell phones, iPods, and rCards, a credit card size media player. These increased outlets for video advertising both increase the size of the market and increase the advertiser's ability to target a message to a very particular audience.
Ongoing developments with video advertising are making this form of advertising ever more useful to the small business. When video was primarily used to reach a broad consumer audience, it was not idea for a small business or one operating in a niche market. With the ability to focus the message and the distribution of the message through new video advertising outlets, small businesses can put video to use effectively. Although video advertising can still be very expensive, by focusing the message for a well-defined audience it can also be very effective. There are several video options that can be used effectively by small businesses of modest financial means.
Network television reaches the largest audience of all advertising media. As the Small Business Administration noted in Advertising Your Business, most small businesses use "spot television," which is an ad "placed on one station in one market." Placing such a spot ad on one of the national networks can be rather expensive, depending on the size of the audience reached and the demand of the specific time slot desired. In any case, such network television spots are often priced well beyond the financial means of small businesses.
Local television, on the other hand, is much more affordable, and many small businesses use it to reach local consumers. Local network advertising time is usually purchased as 30-second "spot announcements," which are similar to the network spot ads. The time slots for local ads begin in the early morning and continue up until the network news broadcasts begin. As with network television, the cost for such a spot depends on the size of the audience determined to be watching and the demand for the particular time slot.
Cable and satellite stations offer selectivity, low cost, and flexibility. Since many cable stations, like ESPN and the History Channel, broadcast specific kinds of programs that appeal to certain demographic groups, a defined audience can be targeted. Spot ads are purchased from either a national cable network or from a local cable station. The cost depends on the cable penetration in the area and the channel's viewership. For example, most infomercials are broadcast on cable stations, such as the Lifetime Network, because of the programming flexibility and comparatively low advertising costs.
Drawbacks associated with the purchase of advertising time on cable television include fragmentation (which refers to the wide range of viewing options available on cable—and thus the dilution of impact that any one ad may have) and image. The latter factor is primarily associated with local cable stations, which typically have low budgets and viewerships. Moreover, some locally produced cable shows are amateurish and/or feature offensive content.
The use of video on the Internet was made possible by the increased speed of data transmission. If data can be sent at a very fast speed from an Internet site to an end user's PC then video can be sent and viewed almost simultaneously. The sending of such video material on the Internet is often referred to as streaming video.
The use of video online is often part of an existing Internet advertising campaign in which video is added to Web sites or existing banner ads. The inclusion of video material on a company's own Web site is a relatively simple matter. Online applications in which this sort of video usage is being seen a great deal include:
Outlets for online video advertising, beyond a company's own Web site, are multiplying. Services that offer to aggregate video advertising spots and manage their distribution online are appearing. These services are somewhat like online advertising agencies. They bring together the videos from a large number of advertisers. They have agreements with Web entities willing to host ads. Then, they match up the host sites with suitable advertisements and handle all tracking and financial arrangements for the host sites and the advertisers. One such service, Instream, Inc., launched in late 2005, expects to reach "500 million monthly streams per month by early 2006," according to Aimee Irwin, an executive with the firm.
All the ways in which video will expand on the Internet are not clear. The technology upon which the Internet rests is developing rapidly and making things possible today that were not possible just a year ago. What the Internet offers is a unique chance to reach out to a very well-defined audience and not only pass along a message, but interact almost immediately with that portion of the audience for whom your products or services are of interest. This is a powerful tool for businesses of any size.
SEE ALSO Advertising Media—Internet
Berkowitz, Ira. Vault Career Guide to Advertising. Vault, Inc., April 2004.
Instream, The Video Advertising Network, Launches. PR Newswire, 16 November 2005.
Klaassen, Abbey. "Media Morph: Unexpected Video." Advertising Age. 3 October 2005.
United States Small Business Administration. Advertising Your Business, n.d.
Vickers, Amy. "Being at One with the Consumer: The New Art of Interactive Advertising." New TV Strategies. June 2000.
Hillstrom, Northern Lights
updated by Magee, ECDI