Q&A: Neil Perry, president, Poptent

Neil Perry, president of video advertising firm Poptent, discusses how marketers are experimenting with online video ads and why mobile remains the format’s frontier.

Direct Marketing News (DMN): To a large extent online video advertising consists of preroll ads, but there seems to be more value performance-wise in running video ads created specifically for online. Is that consistent with what you’re seeing?

Neil Perry: There are two trends going on simultaneously. One is that marketers are looking at the option of taking an ad that’s already been plastered all over the media on TV, and they’re weighing the option of whether it makes any sense at all to put it on your fan page on Facebook or on YouTube, because clearly the ad is pretty well worn out. What I’m seeing a lot of marketers do now in this arena is they’re going to sites like ours and getting custom creative that not only fits the length and the placements of where the media is going to play. For example, on Facebook these are a brand’s friends, its most loyal customers, so you don’t want to have them see some Hollywood production. You want to have them see an ad that has regular people they can relate to saying things they can relate to. You have to lose the hyperbole and lose the drama; it’s gotta be authentic. So a lot of marketers are walking away from using their TV ad on their Web page, but what I find even more interesting than that trend is putting video in all sorts of unique locations. E-commerce sites are a great example right now. They’re producing video to go along with a lot of their hot-selling products. So when you’re on an e-commerce site, all of a sudden there’s a video there that explains the use of the one product you’re looking at.

Another trend is people who are emailing videos. Why email a PDF or Word document to a prospective client when you can email him a little video that tells your story?

DMN: You mentioned the experimentation with video ad placements. Other than on product pages, what are other placements you’re seeing?

Perry: An area that is really growing is the ‘videoization’ of Web pages. In the past, you used to go to a brand’s website and get a few pictures of products and a few corporate stories — all of this static information that was basically black type on a white HTML page. What a lot of brands are doing right now is they’re taking all of that black-and-white content and converting it into powerful messaging in video form. So it could be a mission statement told through the voice of a character-actor. It is taking the instruction manuals with information about how to set up something — they’re doing it in video form. They’re taking all of this boring, static content and transferring it into a video format that is incredibly engaging for customers.

DMN: It seems there would be some challenges with emailing a video. For instance, I read most if not all of my personal emails on my phone. How much of a challenge does that present?

Perry: Flash conversions continue to be a problem for marketers. Once HTML5 gets more widespread, there won’t be any issues, because the vast majority of new phone sales are smartphones. I think that it’s going to continue to get easier and easier for marketers to use video on these devices, because clearly that’s what they’re building the devices toward. The functionality of the new phones that are coming out is such that they can take all sorts of different video formats and all sorts of different HTML versions. It really then becomes what platform is right for you and your brand.

DMN: Does that mean marketers may need to take a wait-and-see approach with mobile video ads?

Perry: Mobile is the wildcard. Everyone in the states is waiting for this vision of what mobile could be, but it doesn’t seem to have arrived yet in the states. Mobile is interwoven into the fabric of Japan and Germany and a lot of other international countries. Here in the U.S. it’s not at that same level, probably because of the multiple carriers and platforms that are out there. The tablet, I think, is this middle ground area where you’re going to continue to see high growth and greater adoption. It’s a perfect screen for commercial work. It translates very well and is very impactful when it runs. Mobile, you just have to see where mobile goes. From a marketing standpoint, I still haven’t seen anybody who’s got their arms around it effectively. My experience from talking with marketers is they are waiting for the mobile opportunity to present itself.

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