Top 4 Guidelines for Online TV Ads

Within the past year I have become a huge fan of watching TV online. It’s a great way to save money (no need for DVR) and for the small price of four to six commercials you can watch most shows without resorting to illegal downloads. Thank you Hulu and

As I’ve been watching copious amounts of TV online I have noticed many different styles of online ads. Some can be very entertaining and informative while others are just plain boring. Most web sites give you 30 seconds to capture an audience that can easily go to the bathroom, grab a snack, or even (dare I say) surf the web during that time. That said, running your standard 30 second spot is not going to cut it.

Here are a few of my personal guidelines for creating online ads for TV shows.

  1. Do not go over 30 seconds.
    It sounds pretty basic, but you would be amazed how many people violate this rule. As soon as that little timer hits zero I am finding out if Chuck Bass will finally tell Blair "I love you." It’s okay to give your audience the option to engage with your ad a bit longer, but by 30 seconds you have to be done talking.

  2. Provide me with valuable content.
    The keyword here is valuable. I am not a robot sitting in front of the TV. I’m online baby, I have options. And if I don’t like what you’re doing I can easily look through my Google Reader while you’re yapping away.

    One of my favorite sponsors has been Florida Orange Juice. Their spots included educational games and quizzes that taught me why orange juice is good for me. Short and quick online games are always an easy win.

  3. Use multiple techniques.
    There are several ways to do this. One online ad for a car company showed their traditional spot in the upper left hand corner while allowing me to learn more about their car on the right hand side of the screen. I actually remember probing around while listening to the ad. Remember, people can be surprisingly good at multi-tasking and chances are they’ll be engaged by at least one of the options you present.

  4. Develop multiple ads.
    If you are the sole advertiser/sponsor for a show, seeing the same thing five or six times in a row gets really annoying. I will never forget the commercial for digital cameras with the quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald and how I came to despise it.

    Nesquik does a decent job of mixing it up. While their ads don’t always entertain me for the full 30 seconds I appreciate how they switch it up. One time I get to play around and make the rabbit dance while another time they show a more formal commercial.

What did I miss? What do you like and dislike about online TV ads? Do you have any guidelines you wish advertisers would follow?


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