Interactive TV News Round-Up (IV): Fathom, History Channel, Facebook, Twitter, IAB

Interactive Video: Fathom's Hot NEW Product INGAGE

--Fathom Launches Interactive Video Player
--History Channel Makes Extensive Use of Facebook and Twitter to Promote Titanic Programming
--IAB Releases "Video Suite," Updating VAST and VPAID and Adding New VMAP Protocol
--IAB Launches "Rising Stars" Competition to Foster Creativity in Digital Video Advertising

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been working on The TV of Tomorrow Show 2012, we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format.

  • Digital agency, Fathom, has launched an interactive video player, called Ingage (short for "interactive engagement"), that features embedded clickable buttons which allow users to choose paths to other videos or external Web pages. "On account of the generally more active nature of online video consumption as compared to TV (via Nielsen research), the Ingage player helps companies appeal to the more engaged and attentive Web video viewers by offering choices within the video itself," the company states in its press materials. "Consistent with Fathom's general approach to results-driven Internet marketing, the company is adding its new conversion-friendly video option to provide even greater value to its clients. Businesses will not only receive a powerful interactive video with user-friendly functionality, but also several additional regular videos to feature on their own landing pages or standard product/service pages...The video player's detailed analytics offers insight into audience viewing behavior, such as number of views and average length of time spent watching. In addition to standard data, the analytics also shows information about critical paths and decision points, such as the percentage of viewers who request more information; how many stop viewing at a particular clip; the most and least popular path taken from each clip; and conversion rates per clip."
  • The History Channel is making extensive use of Twitter and Facebook to promote its programming for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. "From April 9th-15th all content on will be Titanic related, and related to the promotion of the documentary airing and content from the History Channel site," a spokesperson for the channel explained to [itvt]. "The 'cover photo' will be of the Titanic and a post sent early on the 9th will be 'pinned' to the top of their timeline, outlining that the week's content will be Titanic-focused for the anniversary, and will include tune-in for the special. They'll then pin a new post to the top of the timeline promoting the real-time tweeting from the 14th-15th (as well as the special, airing on the 15th)...Follow @HistoryChannel #Titanic to experience the devastating minute-by-minute updates from the ship--from the very first ice sighting, to the captain's response, through loading the passengers onto half full lifeboats in the frigid waters."
  • The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) on Tuesday introduced what it bills as "the first comprehensive update to its in-stream video advertising standards since 2008," via the unveiling of its "IAB Video Suite" of new and updated specifications for enhanced video advertising. "Working in an open forum with leaders from over 45 member companies, the IAB Digital Video Committee spent over a year crafting the suite, which includes critical updates to its key specs--VAST and VPAID--and the establishment of a new protocol, VMAP," the organization states in its press materials. "The suite's three specs are devised to work together as part of a thorough video advertising offering: 1) Video Ad-Serving Template (VAST)--a universal protocol for serving in-stream video ads, permitting ad servers to use a single ad response format across multiple compliant publishers/video players. 2) Video Player-Ad Interface Definition (VPAID)--a common communication protocol between ad units and video players that enables rich ad experiences and detailed event reporting back to advertisers. 3) Video Multiple Ad Playlist (VMAP)--a new protocol that allows content owners to describe where ad breaks should be placed in their content when they do not control the video player or the content distribution outlet...VAST 3.0, VPAID 2.0, and VMAP 1.0 offer a range of benefits to advertisers, publishers, and consumers. Advancements include: 1) Support for 'skippable' video ads that allow for publisher pricing models based on ads that play to completion. 2) Support for 'pods' of multiple ads to be displayed in a single ad break, allowing for the creation of viewing experiences similar to broadcast television. 3) Support for the display of in-ad privacy notices recommended by the Digital Advertising Alliance Self-Regulation Program for Online Behavioral Advertising. 4) Ability for a single ad to play seamlessly across different devices including iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as certain connected-television platforms. 5) Clarity surrounding compliance, while permitting vendors to support only the ad formats they use." Said Steve Sullivan, the IAB's VP of advertising technology: "The IAB Video Suite gives advertisers new canvases where they can tap the power of video to create real brand stories in the digital space. These specs help creativity flourish by making it easier for companies to buy and sell video ad inventory while allowing marketers to deliver in-stream interactive video ads with the confidence that consumers will always receive a consistent viewing experience across different media players." More information on the IAB Suite is available here.
  • In other IAB news: The organization has launched a "Rising Stars" competition devoted to digital video advertising (note: it previously held Rising Stars competitions for display and mobile advertising). The Digital Video Rising Stars competition is designed to foster digital video advertising creativity and to boost larger ad spends across multiple screens," the organization states in its press materials. "The IAB is calling on companies and individuals to submit digital video ad units to a selection process led by a cross-disciplinary group that includes agency creative directors, media executives, and ad operations specialists. The group will judge the ad units for their potential to drive brand equity at scale. The submissions will be evaluated on the following criteria: 1) User Experience--How well does the ad format positively impact user experience? 2) Branding--How well does the ad format provide a canvas for brand creativity? 3) Functionality--How does the ad format take advantage of digital video user behaviors and technologies? 4) Integration--How does the ad format enhance the relationship between the ad and publisher content? 5) Adoption--How easily could the ad format be adopted across the digital video ecosystem? Submissions for the new digital video Rising Stars ad units will be accepted until June 30th. At the turn of the year, a set of Digital Video Rising Stars ad units will be selected and subsequently tested in market. After the testing and evaluation, the Rising Stars will have the chance to be adopted as part of the IAB Standard Ad Unit Portfolio, the definitive set of advertising standards for the digital industry." More information on the Digital Video Rising Stars contest is available here.
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