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Andrew Solmssen: ABC had a really, at the time, revolutionary idea and it's amazing to think less than three years later that full episodes of TV shows, ad-supported on the web, would be as prevalent as it is now. Because it was heresy when it was done. I think now most of us are disappointed when we can't find full episodes of our favorites shows available to stream, but back then, executives were really, really afraid of this. When ABC came to us and said, "This is incredibly hush-hush, but this is what we want to try to do. And we want an interface and an experience that is as exciting to the consumer as our content is going to be, and feel cinematic and doesn't feel like Google Video, which is a postage stamp piece of video with a list of links." Jason Brush: All other things that people love about television, no matter what you think of the quality of the content that actually gets delivered, but all of the things that people love about TV about the simplicity of it, about the ease in which you can get communication, about how dynamic and exciting the graphics and the stories are, that you could actually create that same type of experience on the PC and that in order to do that you needed to come with up a way of accessing that content, which felt televisual, it felt like TV, it didn't feel like just a website.
We could have created a very beautiful SWiss-looking simple thing, but instead we decided to approach it to say that well, how can we make this be more environmental, be more dimensional, be more dynamic, be as I was saying more televisual? So we used space, we used motion, we used all of the tools that you would expect in broadcast design and applied them to web design.
Andrew Solmssen: We realized early on the natural ad breaks where traditional television advertising is shown, is the only place you can really stop the show. If you try to do it anywhere else, it feels really jarring and strange. So we knew where we could stop the show. But we also knew that unlike traditionally on the web, we didn't want to have a lot of adjacent content. So we didn't want to say, okay, we are going to have the video window and then we are going to paint a bunch of sponsorship pieces around it, because again we really felt like that detracted from the video. In fact, with ABC we had the whole background kind of fade back. This is something which has been picked up by Hulu and picked up NBC.com and a lot of people have done this, so that you really feel like you have that cinematic experience.
The way the ad model works is it's fully interstitial. So like on television, the video content goes away completely and the advertiser now owns that content. And here is what so interesting. This is what advertisers have asked for for a long time. Give us a green field where we can really play and really showcase what the web does so well for interactive advertising. Unfortunately, because of the way that a lot of the ad agencies were set up, we didn't -- when we first put this model out there, ABC would receive back just a 30-second TV spot. Here is why that was a challenge. The model works like this. The viewer is trapped for 30 seconds, they have to stay for 30 seconds and then at the end of that, they can click a button and go back to the show.
So if you show a 30-second TV spot, and it goes black after 30 seconds, well, of course, the person is going to go back to the show. Meanwhile, if they are other ways that you can entice the viewer into spending more time and having a deeper interaction with that brand, you can get something so much more than just an impression from a piece of video or from a banner. Trevor Kaufman: When we created interactive advertising for ABC television shows, the recall was much, much higher. It was closer to 90% than the approximately 20% you'll usually get for unaided recall in broadcast.
To have a full screen interactive ad that can contain video, animation, anything you want, turns out to be an unbelievably compelling advertising unit. And what's been unfortunate is that the ABC ad unit model has not spread throughout the web, and that's because ABC kept it rather close to the vest, and also frankly I think a lot of -- without it being a broad standard, a lot of agencies and advertisers are concerned about the production cost of these very elaborate, almost mini-sites, if you will, that can serve as interstitial advertising in video. But there is no question in our minds that that's the way things will go in the future.
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