by: Josh Hawkins
Not too long ago, I had a meeting at an advertising agency in Minneapolis to discuss the benefits of using a SaaS platform for online video campaigns instead of building one-off solutions for every client. The agency's interactive lead explained to me that he has a room full of Flash designers and programmers he needs to keep busy, he has all the CDNs offering deals of broadband delivery, so why not bill for the time and create their own video players etc?
I have run into this point of view at more than a few agencies. The idea is that creative on the Web should be like TV and the goal is to create online video that's funny enough to get passed around and embedded in social networks. For the interactive teams charged with executing this vision, it means you stick video clips on websites and make sure the streams are reliable and measurable.
Is this really how agencies should approach online video? Is this the best use of Flash designers and programmers? Does this really move the needle for brands?
Earlier this week, Brian Morrissey blogged about how creative on the Web can be much more than an imitation of TV. He asks "what if it's a blend of design, utility and technology... digital creativity might look more like software than TV spots."
When it comes to video on the Web, I think there are two trends that bode well for Morrissey's view. First, video is becoming as ubiquitous as text on the Web. As a basic elements of almost every professional website these days, this means that video will be increasingly integrated into wide-ranging online experiences (e.g., social media, editorial copy, rich Internet applications). Instead of a "video clip," video is becoming a common element weaved into almost every online media experience.
The second trend is the increasingly open architecture of online video platforms. On-demand Web services for video publishing and distribution now provide APIs and SDKs that enable designers and programmers to build almost any kind of interactive feature on top of video, extending the experience and providing consumers with far greater value than simply watching a funny video clip. What's more, online video platforms have spawned a fast growing ecosystem of technology companies (widgets, social media applications, etc.) that are pre-integrated and give agencies out-of-the-box opportunities to turn website videos into rich applications that engage consumer and build community around brands.
I don't want to suggest that agencies have missed the boat. There are a lot of interactive teams at creative agencies taking advantage of platforms and their efficiencies, which let them focus resources on building experiences instead of backend publishing tools. But it has been a long road to get here and platform adoption in agencies is just starting to take off. I think this might be the year and hopefully online creative will be the better for it.