Council Targets Streaming Media Standards

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In its first meeting last month, the Streaming Media Advertising Advisory Council began work toward standardizing streaming media advertising.


But like other such organizations that have been tagged as self-serving, premature and unnecessary, SMAAC is comprised of industry executives striving to establish standards for a largely unproven and underutilized ad medium.


"Right now the streaming experience is pretty bad and there is so little being done we haven't bothered tracking it," said Jim Nail, online advertising analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA. "Even when we do start seeing more of these types of ads, they are likely to be like re-purposed TV ads. I'm also sure they would like to sell them now as branding advertising, but the audience measurement is not there; it's barely there with other forms of online advertising."


While there has been interest in streaming advertising, many efforts have come off as self-serving. Last year, RealNetworks and DoubleClick partnered with the premise of serving ads in RealPlayer streams and tracking them with DoubleClick's ad tracking technology. Meanwhile, Microsoft launched its Broadband Jumpstart program with partner Engage Media, which would track and serve ads in the Windows Media Player.


SMAAC consists of 275 individuals from marketing firms, streaming media companies, and traditional and interactive advertising agencies.


Nail said the problem with SMAAC and similar organizations is that members try to accomplish goals in their "nonexistent spare time. Trade groups tend to work best when you have dedicated, full-time staff that can deal with the organization and the issues."


And while SMAAC's membership consists of individuals from a variety of companies and agencies, it was founded by eYada.com, or more specifically, David Bialek, eYada's vice president of sales. The company touts itself as an online forum for live discussion.


Bialek said the group plans to address what it deems to be the three most important topics related to streaming media advertising: audience measurement, the buying and selling of these ads and ad serving. It intends to do so by holding quarterly meetings and creating awareness at industry events. It also might develop an educational road show.


But for Bialek, the group also represents his company's need to educate media buyers and agencies, for these ads are what eYada wants on its site.


"Our intent is to grow our business and the only way to do that is to get the industry on board with the idea of buying and selling this form of advertising," Bialek says. "EYada is definitely a forum for these ads to be heard and seen."


Bialek said he is realistic about SMAAC's mission and does not expect the group will set all of the standards for such a new form of advertising.


"We don't think anything we propose will be set in stone or followed by everyone, but we do need to establish a way to buy and sell this highly effective medium," he said. "Education is the most important issue now. We all need to spend a lot of time at the client level to show the benefits to the advertiser."


When asked about working with already established and recognized Internet advertising groups, such as the Internet Advertising Bureau and Future of Advertising Stakeholders, Bialek said SMAAC has made those groups aware of what it is doing, but it has "not had much involvement with them yet."


SMAAC's Web site, www.smaac.net, is being updated. The group also plans to form subgroups over the next few weeks to discuss specific topics proposed through panel discussions. The group does not plan to formally meet again until January.
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