YouTube Debuts Inline Video Ads; World Listens

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YouTube has launched a new video ad format it has been testing for months (see past post). These ad units, known as inline ads, involve translucent windows that are overlaid on video content for about 10 seconds near the beginning of a given clip.

Experimentation with more integrated and less cumbersome video advertising has flourished in the wake of the somewhat recent realization that consumers largely don’t like pre-roll ads. This innovation has gotten much further than YouTube’s ad overlays have taken it, as we’ve reported, from the likes of Blinkx, Adap.tv and ScanScout.

Adap.tv in fact integrates clickable inline ads at the bottom of a video window at contextually appropriate moments of the content being shown. I’m also scheduled to talk to ScanScout next week to find out more about its product and where the innovation in this area could take us next.

Though YouTube isn’t first to market with this type of inline video advertising, many will treat this as a breakthrough given the company’s cachet and that of its owner (mainstream news coverage today is testament to this).

But the smaller players in this space could also see this as a boon for the ad medium and their own marketability. This is of course a nascent area that could use the mainstream light that Google/YouTube could shed on it.

This could get users used to the idea and advertisers excited about getting in front of them. Or, like with pre-roll ads, the people will vote with their mice and a more effective feedback loop will enable better product development. YouTube could bring the critical mass among users to get to this point.

Industry Parallels: Free DA

This is similar to the speculation, here and elsewhere, that Google’s free DA product, goog411, will push the medium forward in terms of user adoption and exposure. This could in turn make users realize — to the benefit of all providers — that there are improving alternatives to paying two bucks for a carrier-delivered 411 call.

This lack of mainstream exposure has been one thing that has slowed free DA from catching on on a mainstream level — that and issues with voice recognition technology, ad support and overhead associated with sometimes requisite human operators.

Interestingly, free DA and video search/monetization have other important ties. As reported in a past post, Google’s Marissa Mayer believes the voice recognition technology driven by free DA platform development can serve video search and monetization as it too utilizes the same underlying voice recognition technology.

Voice recognition technology will indeed improve, and we’ll see lots more innovation with video monetization and search. This will importantly affect the many local video advertising efforts from the likes of Citysearch, Yellowpages.com, Superpages, DexKnows and others.

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