Internet Video Ads: Will They Float?

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In the ongoing effort to make sure analog dollars don’t forever become mere digital pennies, a group of Internet TV distributors and advertisers is trying to figure out which interactive video ads work the best.

“The Pool,” a project organized by ad agency Starcom Mediavest, includes the participation of Hulu, CBS, Microsoft and Yahoo. The group this week is running a bake-off of five different clickable formats with focus groups — and will choose two winners, the WSJ reports. Advertisers in The Pool include Allstate, Capital One Financial and Applebee’s.

It’s an attempt to find the right balance of least annoying/most engaging viewing interruptions, and standardize those elements across major Internet video sites so advertisers can deliver a standard set of creative elements. The Pool’s formats under consideration, according to the WSJ, include clickable elements that display more information in a separate pane or open a new browser window; and videos that allow viewers to pick the ad that they want to watch.

Hulu.com is already experimenting with the latter. When I visited the site to watch an episode of FX’s Damages,Hulu asked me if I wanted to watch a trailer for the DVD release of Brideshead Revisited (the remake stars Emma Thompson) or just keep the regular commercial breaks.

Sitting out of The Pool party, for now, is Google’s YouTube, the No. 1 video destination. The Journal says Google’s absence from The Pool was a “timing” issue. But it sure seems symptomatic of the problems YouTube has had placing any sort of advertising against its unpredictable stew of video clips.

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