Cannes: Video content online is the next big thing in advertising, and that’s the goldmine opportunity Federico Grosso, senior vice-president for business development at search-engine operator blinkx, wants to tap.
The popularity of online video is not limited to user-generated content, but also to online broadcasts from established media companies such as the BBC, Grosso told a seminar at Cannes Lions 2008, the advertising awards festival.
“The content industry is moving online. Even the content that did not have a place in the traditional broadcasting schedule has now become important thanks to video search,” he said.
Federico Grosso, senior vice-president, blinkx
Founded in 2004, blinkx claims to be one of the largest and most advanced search engines for video content. The company, listed on the London Stock Exchange, has 350 media partnerships, including with national broadcasters, commercial media giants, and private video libraries.
It helps advertisers target their audiences better via video content, for which it has partnerships with companies such as CNN, Sky News, Fox News and Reuters. In return, blinkx gives a percentage of ad revenues generated back to the media companies.
Half the consumers are using search engines to find online TV, Grosso said. But traditional search engines, based on text search technology, are inherently unsuited to finding video results. This is where blinkx comes in, with more than 26 million hours of searchable video and its media partnerships.
Brands such as Nokia and Shell have targeted audiences using blinkx’s services. “We decide based on what content people are watching, when and where to place the ad for the advertiser. If you as a user are watching Paris Hilton videos, then we would understand that your interest is in gossip and videos. Therefore we target advertising to you related to these areas.”
The way of targeting users differs, from a pre-roll (a TV commercial duplicated online) or an ad that appears on video, stays for 15 seconds and then disappears, to traditional banners around content. He says that blinkx as a company does not advise clients to stick by formats and old patterns.
“A good old banner can be just as effective provided it’s placed in the right environment,” Grosso said. “Blinkx has the capacity to target by key words in any given video. For instance, Shell wanted to do a campaign promoting their concern for the environment. What blinkx did for them was to target videos where if someone used words related to the environment or related words on online videos, the Shell ad appeared at the bottom saying “If you are interested in the environment, check out our micro-site as well.”
Numbers given by ComScore—a global Internet information provider—reveal that 75% of US Internet users watch or download video.
Blinkx has its eyes set on the more established digital markets first such as North America, before it moves on to emerging markets such as India.
That notwithstanding, it has signed a deal with Zoom TV, a Bollywood channel aired by media company Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd.
Blinkx distributes Zoom’s content globally to target Indians living outside of India.
In spite of greater numbers watching video content online, “ad nirvana” is yet to be achieved, in Grosso’s words. A big challenge is user-generated content such as YouTube which is increasingly difficult to control and monetise. “We have put user-generated content in a separate silo and don’t put advertising next to it. It’s hard to make commercial sense of this kind of video content as it’s out of our control,’’ he said.