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Ad Agencies Carving Out New Roles in New Medium

Oct 24, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Most marketers recognize that when advertising in video-on-demand, the nature of the medium presents an opportunity to do more than simply slap up their existing 30-second spots. But most advertising agencies still don’t have the framework or infrastructure to create spots that can take full advantage of those opportunities.

Some have developed internal departments, such as SMG Access, a creative division of to address those opportunities, such as SMG Access, a creative division within Starcom MediaVest that develops content for marketers of new media. A handful of smaller shops, such as Brand New World, also craft creative for new media, including VOD. But they are few and far between.

One of the newest creative consultancies to tackle this space is Words and Pictures, which has developed a VOD campaign for Old Spice that is slated to run later this year on various operators. The Old Spice campaign will be the new shop’s first VOD foray.

Words and Pictures recently linked up informally with media agency Carat through the Carat Exchange think tank, and will likely participate in VOD projects with Carat clients.

VOD is an incredible branding tool, said Kristi Faulkner, who founded the agency with partner Sandy Sabean. That’s because viewers opt in, giving VOD the potential to build a consumer’s connection with a brand.

“VOD gives brands the opportunity to develop stronger, deeper, more enduring and more personal relationships with their consumers, but only if the message is creative, relevant and engaging,” Ms. Faulkner said. “More than a television spot or any other medium, VOD puts the control in the hands of the consumer. VOD has to be a lot more engaging. It has the appeal of a TV program but is directly related to the brand.

“So it’s not a spot. It’s programming. It has to step up a notch in terms of its entertainment value.”

VOD ads can be longer and tell a story, said Mitch Oscar, executive VP of Carat Digital. They can have a beginning, middle and end, and they can convey the image of the brand in a way that is harder with a shorter spot, he said. “There is definitely a need for this. If the people who are the experts in technology and media, such as Carat Exchange, can provide guidance, then at least the creative people can understand what’s going on,” Mr. Oscar said. “You need to create with VOD in mind.”

Developing creative units for ad-sponsored VOD requires the marketer or agency to think more like a network than as an advertiser, said Alan Schulman, chief creative officer for Brand New World, which has created VOD spots for Tylenol on Charter. Mr. Schulman also created Sony Music spots on Cox FreeZone when he was with Universal McCann.

“The trick is to create a short-form custom ID-like unit, a custom pre-roll if you will, almost like a station ID, that’s contextual to the content [and that’s] either ‘pre-rolling’ or embedded in the interface of the VOD home page,” Mr. Schulman said.