New York, OMMA, IAB, Online Video Advertising, and Gridlock

Remember that Saturday Night Live skit with Ross Perot (played by Dana Carvey) and his running mate, Admiral Stockdale (played by Phil Hartman)? Phil kept repeating “gridlock” when describing the federal government. Well, he might as well have been describing New York during Advertising Week 2007. OMMA and the IAB held their conferences at the exact same time…again. President Bush and President Ahmadinejad also decided to drop into New York, forcing a rash of street closings. To make matters worse, I saw a few film crews shutting down various parts of the city to shoot movie scenes. I also saw George Clooney next to the Hilton for the premier of his new movie, Michael Clayton. New York-you’ve got to love it! Next thing you know, ad:tech will try to schedule their show around the same time as the New York Marathon! Oh wait…In any case, if you were able to attend either the IAB or the OMMA show, then you would have heard some common themes; namely, agencies stating the importance of strengthening their digital capabilities. This was underscored when Carat’s David Verklin duked it out with Ogilvy’s Carla Hendra about whose agency was the first, the biggest, and the best at interactive marketing. If you attended that session, you would have seen no one held back.

For all the talk about restructuring agencies to manage more interactive ad dollars, I have to admit that I am deeply frustrated by the slow movement by agencies to adopt online video advertising. Perhaps Admiral Stockdale’s “gridlock” comment was referring to something else.

I thought the best quote of the week, though, came from Laura Desmond who said, “There is no right way or wrong way to get on the superhighway of change; you just have to commit,” at The New York Times CEO Summit, part of Advertising Week 2007. “Let’s stop talking about it and start doing it.” For more, go here:

Fortunately, to support this, SpotXchange has seen more media planners adopt this attitude over the past quarter, and I fully expect that 2008 will be the breakout year for online video advertising.

At the OMMA conference, I participated in a panel called “Does Today’s Online Video CPM Discussion Make Sense?” Panelists included David Cohen, EVP of Digital Communications at Universal McCann, Simon Assaad, co-CEO at, and Matt Wasserlauf, CEO at Broadband Enterprises. The panel was moderated by Adam Gerber, formerly of BrightCove. It was a lively conversation, packed with good questions and good insight into the state of online video advertising. The discussion revolved around the buying and selling process. While the panel talked about how the process should work, David made a good point trying to bring the discussion back to reality. He stated that if sellers want to sell their inventory, for better or worse, they will have to make it as close to a television buy for the buyers as they can, which includes standardization of metrics, demographic targeting, and ad unit types. Furthermore, he pointed out the need for greater reach across quality inventory, alluding to how limited the reach becomes in online video advertising once all of the UGC and other ‘non-advertiser friendly’ content is stripped out. Duly noted. Not the answer everyone wants to hear, but at least David was honest and straightforward.

I also had the pleasure of attending a dinner hosted by the good folks at RBC Daniels, an investment bank focused on interactive media. RBC’s head analyst, Jordan Rohan, held court over a discussion between approximately 75 industry leaders from companies like, Joost, Did-it, DoubleClick, Denuo, and Velocity Investment Group, just to name a few. It was a heady conversation, covering topics ranging from macro online spending trends, to political ad spending, to Google’s new minimum spend algorithm, to Yahoo’s woes, to trends in social marketing. Nothing revolutionary was revealed on the subject of online video advertising, but a recurring theme was echoed amongst many folks. Despite it being one of the hottest topics, online video advertising continues to be held up by the lack of creative and technical standards and lack of access to inventory, which has caused traditional agencies to move slower than many people anticipated. It was also revealed that numerous online video publishers are selling inventory at or above television rates. No surprise there.

Overall, I left New York pleased with the discussions. There are so many challenges in online video advertising that still need to be addressed by the industry. But at least the industry knows what those challenges are and what needs to be done. These issues weren’t even being discussed last year, so while it may seem like we’re crawling, we’re at least crawling forward together.

Explore posts in the same categories: Events, Mike Shehan, Newsletter - SpotXchange Insight, SpotX for Media Buyers

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