Mixpo, a Seattle-based company that offers software to create online video ads, contends that 30% of viewers who play a video on the platform take additional actions, such as a click or e-mail.
About 80% of ads on the platform are placed by local TV advertisers extending campaigns online by transforming their regular video ads and adding simple conversion tools. So far, most local media partners are also broadcast companies who use the tools inhouse to recreate their advertising inventory as online ads.
Here's how it works: The square format of a standard 300 x 250 display ads lends itself to video. Mixpo simply transforms the video ad into this format and shortens it to 15 seconds. Then, the media adds conversion tools. For example, when the visitor's cursor floats over the ad the video starts playing, and subtle but easily accessed overlays pop-up allowing them to enter an e-mail, ask for a coupon, or go directly to a longer video ad.
Anupam Gupta, Mixpo president and CEO, said, "Advertisers have already spent tens of thousands of dollars on high-quality TV creative and leveraging that creative is the easiest way to take advantage of online advertising.”
In an interview Gupta shared his philosophy about why a display-only video platform with conversion tools makes sense:
1) It leverages what the Internet does best: Interact with customers to produces trackable conversions.
Sometimes the obvious advantage of the Internet — interactivity — goes unnoticed. Though Gupta is a supporter of pre-rolls for national brand advertising, he isn’t a fan of pre-rolls for local advertising, where interactivity is critical.
“Pre-rolls are not the right solution for local advertising. They are expensive and have limited availablity, interactivity and targeting,” he said.
“How do you take a pre-roll ad which is a fixed viewing experience and make it responsive, and how do you make it local? There is not really an answer to that. We support display as the advertising mechanism. The overlays are so important because local advertisers unlike brand advertisers care about measurable response: Get a coupon, an email, tickets, some lead generation tool.”
Besides, overlays are a “soft” sell. Pre-rolls make great sponsorship opportunities, but they can feel forced if out of context or if too many video clips have them. The Applebees ads in front of every Countdown with Keith Olbermann online episode were enough to send this reviewer over to Bill O’Reilly. Because of the closeness of the viewer to the computer, having fast-food options drummed into the brain feels especially obnocious.
2) It leverages existing unsold inventory instead of requiring more video content.
“Every large-brand advertiser wants to be branded on premium content with millions of views — think of a site like Hulu,” Gutpa explains. “When you think of local sites, the amount of video content is much less. We hear this from local sites all the time. There is never enough video content to go around, but there are millions of unsold display inventory impressions.”
No one is happy with leaving inventory unsold, or undersold to networks for 50-cent CPM’s.
3) It presents the opportunity to leverage a premium existing market of TV advertisers.
Gupta says 80% of Mixpo local advertisers come from cable and television, and can simply extend existing TV ads online, editing them and adding the interactive elements. The Mixpo platform allows flexibility to add any length of video to add the overlays to be done easily inhouse. So a local publisher who is running a Labor Day promotion for a car dealer can overlay a coupon for $200 in free gas for sales that weekend with the existing resources in the production or ops departments.
4) It leverages the sales force.
“My clients tell me their sales force already knows how to sell. This product gives them something that makes video measurable to their existing clients,” Gupta says.
This is all big, fat low-hanging premium fruit for salespeople.
“What we have found is that the opportunity is local but it is not about the Mom-and-Pop store creating the ad. Its about the local TV advertisers expanding that broadcast strategy.”
The magic words here are “no additional resources.” The revenue-share model also makes sliding into video sales easy.
“They (local sites publishers) already have all the elements; its about putting them together at the local level,” Gupta says.
Mixpo has put the big elements together too. Media partners include local the cable division of Comcast Spotlight, NBCLocal and the Tribune Company. In addition they’ve partnered with National Cable Communications (NCC), which sells national advertisers across sites owned by Comcast, TimeWarner and Cox. Freedom Communications and Fisher Interactive are also clients.
The company also works with a few newspaper companies interested in converting television advertisers to their high traffic sites. For interested publishers, there are a couple of companies including Media Monitors and TNS who track cable advertisers, including links to the video being used in the commercials. The services run $1,000 to $3,000 a month but are worthwhile as part of an overall strategy to build larger revenue streams.
This is technology that local media should explore adding to the toolbox.
The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and MediaExecsTech, developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine, to showcases perspectives from around the world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.