Online video has always felt to me like one of those technologies where brands have varied massively in their commitment to innovate.

That was kind of understandable until the last couple of years, as YouTube and video streaming (NetFlix, NOW TV,4OD etc) are now so pervasive.

With brands committing to more online video advertising, it’s obvious the technology will be maturing. In effect, what’s possible on your website should now be possible in an online video ad.

As web viewers aren’t captive in the same way live TV viewers are (even they can go and make a cup of tea), advertisers have to get cuter at delivering changing and tailored ad content that is essentially fun or useful enough to be voluntarily engaged with. A tall order?

Well let’s look at what can be achieved? Here are a few examples, mostly taken from Innovid, who I chatted to last week.


This is the impressive stuff at the moment, aside from second screen ads, which we’ll discuss a bit later.

Ad units can be generated that give the viewer information specifically relevant to them. This involves geo-targeting (from the viewer’s IP) or perhaps audience profiling (e.g. sex, age) from broadcaster or service provider data. Of course, the aim is to display different prices, promotions, product information, copy, show times, and more.

You can try a demo of the geo-targeting technology here.

The ads can display nearest stores, as in the screenshots below.

What data can be used?

Lots of data can be utilised.

Some of the more interesting uses involve dynamically populating ads with nearby cinema showtimes or TV broadcast details.

Here they are in action, screenshotted.

The end goal here for retailers is perhaps a browseable and personalised product catalogue displayed within the ad.

Interactive ads

This can mean data in or data out.

Data in could include polling your audience, allowing the viewer to share something, or to interact with the canvas. It can be as simple as allowing the viewer to pick one ad from three.

Here, JC Penney creates an interactive game where viewers have to guess which is the cheaper JC Penney merchandise.

Data out can include presenting a selection of your stock, as a mini online store, which is updated in real time. Clicking on products can deliver more information, and the checkout can be linked to your website.

Photo and video galleries are other popular inclusions.


Toyota Yaris provides a good example of a game it has included within an ad unit.

You can play the simple Paper-Boy-esque game by clicking the image below. After completing the game, the gamer is given the option of visiting the Yaris site.


Incorporate content from any of your social feeds, or allow the viewer to share. This is a fairly regular feature of many online video ads.

You can see some simple social apps embedded in the Volkswagen ad screenshot below.

Across devices

Having ads, especially interactive ones, that work as well on laptop, tablet, Roku, TV, this is the goal. ‘Responsive’ ad units are now in existence, allowing ads to work well on whatever device the viewer is using.


This is the side of video advertising that’s more in its infancy.

Second screen tech is on its way, your smart TV or set top box will send contextual information to your tablet, which will launch related content or ads at an appropriate moment.

More on this to come on the Econsultancy blog, as I was demoed some exciting stuff from Innovid.

Do you have any examples of great online video ads?

Ben Davis

Published 10 December, 2013 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (4)



I find geo-targeting technology to be creepily intrusive. Further, I consider it offensive that pricing changes based on location, gender, age, or other profiling.

With all of these assaults on consumers, it comes as no surprise that there is an increase of awareness and anger in consumers, and more people taking steps to block or prevent marketers from gaining access to the data.

over 4 years ago


Charlotte Armitage

Interactive video advertising is the big win, allowing you to take the customer on a journey within your ad.
Now that Google is penalising flash content within mobile SERPS, HTML5 video will become the default format for engaging, content-driven display advertising.

over 4 years ago


Sam Thom, Video Journalist at Summit

What are the possibilities with online video ad creative? Ben's article is more about options offered by Innovid's services than a real look at the possibilities.

For me the true possibilities in video ads will come from the way we interact with our screens (, second screens (barely touched upon), and finally breaking out of the player.

(By the way, I spent a bit of time looking at Innovid's website and gave up when I couldn't find an answer to how their InRoll service is related to hosting, YouTube etc.)

over 4 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff


Thanks for reading.

I was quite clear I had been talking to Innovid. This post is simply about creative, and similar services are offered by many other video advertising companies. I was just using Innovid examples so thought it best to mention that. I've only actually linked to their Geo tool, which I thought may interest readers.

Yes, the second screen is of course interesting, but it's not an established technology yet. There is not yet proven demand for contextual ads launching on the second screen, the challenge is how to do it in a manner (with extra content) that the viewer finds beneficial.

When a vendor conclusively hits on tech and strategy to make second screen ads/content work well, of course it'll be a big breakthrough.

Sky are pushing in this area, although Zeebox is arguably a bit too focused on being a social network (Twitter bests it).

As for Innovid's hosting, I'm sure you can ask them about it.

over 4 years ago

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