AOL Seeks to Create Clickers From Tickers

AOL today announced the launch of a new video ad format that gets around the pre-roll model that many viewers call annoying and marketers find ineffective.

Video ticker ads work in tandem with streaming video, but do so without obstructing the content that the viewer is watching, suggesting a new solution to the problem that marketers face when trying to incorporate branded messages into online video without alienating their audience.

“Online video consumption is a fast growing consumer behavior and our new video ticker ads give advertisers a new and creative opportunity to reach consumers through this burgeoning medium,” said Platform-A President Curt Viebranz in a statement. Platform-A is the entity AOL created in September to consolidate the activities of its growing spate of advertising businesses.

Ten seconds into the video, a ticker ad will appears as a graphic banner in the bottom of the screen, enticing the viewer to click to learn more about the advertiser. If the viewer doesn’t click after 15 seconds, the ticker ad disappears. If the viewer clicks on the ticker, it launches a video ad or an interactive Flash ad in the video player window.

AOL partnered with rich-media technology provider PointRoll in developing the ticker ad system.

Ticker ads come as one potential answer to the growing consensus among digital advertising insiders that pre-roll ads, rather than an engaging use of online video content, are simply obnoxious.

A recent IBM study quantified those concerns with a survey where 40 percent of the respondents identified disruptive video ads as the single most irritating form advertising format.

So if the message of ticker ads is “They’re there if you want to watch them,” who would actually watch them?

Compare IBM’s findings with a TNS Research survey conducted in September, where more than three-quarters of respondents felt that online video ads are as good (if not better) a vehicle for engaging with a brand as television ads. Additionally, 64 percent of respondents said that they had “taken some action after seeing an online video ad.”

The TNS study was conducted in partnership with AOL and Google. It is worth noting that Google rolled out the video component of its AdSense program in October, which includes an option for advertisers to place banner ads at the top of a video clip.

Reconciling the figures reported by IBM and TNS on consumer response to online video ads could lead to the improbable conclusion that they just might be annoying and effective.

Ticker ads, then, might be considered AOL’s latest attempt to shed the former and embrace the latter, as it continues the effort to reposition itself as an advertising powerhouse and muscle into the party long-dominated by Google and Yahoo.

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