In a straw poll of media buyers, I found that the recent decision by Disney to stream some of its TV shows online for free the day after broadcasting is seen as an interesting, though not revolutionary development that will continue the changes set in motion by the real game-changing event: Apple's release of the iPod with video last Fall.
"This is another sign that content is slowly being set free," said Jeff Lanctot, VP of media and GM of Avenue A/Razorfish. Lanctot said that advertisers will need to adjust their creative to match that freedom, and give consumers a more personal experience across all media.
"In the short-term, this will look a lot like TV, because that's the way advertisers and content providers work. Over time, all advertising will have to be one of three things: invited, engaging or relevant. If it's not at least one of these things, advertisers will struggle, whether it's on TV, a PC or a mobile device," he said.
The most interesting aspects of Disney's implementation, said Carat Fusion EVP Greg Smith, is that it consists of long-form programming with uncluttered advertising opportunities, and it's very nearly first-run programming.
"This looks a lot like TV advertising, but it can be a lot more," Smith said. He suggests possibilities like filling the three one-minute pods with sequential messages that tell a story, or a call to action to visit the company's Web site, or running something else entirely in those spaces.
"This is a catalyst for the next big idea. Now that we have TV online, what will we do with it? TV commercials have to command attention, they assume you're nto watching and have to shout to get you in from the other room. Here you don't have that," he said. "What would you do if your audience was ready to pay attention?"