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blinkx Debuts 'Un-Roll' Streaming Video Ad Unit

In the ongoing pursuit for the killer Web video ad, video search engine blinkx has introduced a new ad unit that allows users to engage with a brand continuously throughout the duration of a streaming video.

The Un-roll unit, as the company has dubbed it, was developed in-house by blinkx in response to the industry’s need for an alternative format to traditional pre- and post-roll ads.

Available through blinkx AdHoc, the company’s contextual ad platform for online video, the Un-roll integrates a brand with professionally-produced programming on the Web and serves up multiple touchpoints, including contextual overlay ads and logos, throughout the viewing experience.

“Although click-through rates for pre-roll advertisements tend to be positive, some viewers are reluctant to watch 30 seconds of advertising for videos that sometimes last only one minute,” said Suranga Chandratillake, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based blinkx.

Hungry for better engagement through the increasingly popular medium of online video, MediaCom and Shell Oil are among the first agencies and brands, respectively, to deploy the new ad format.

“The exponential growth of online video—both long- and short-form—presents tremendous opportunities for advertisers and publishers,” said Stefan Bardega, director of Digital, MediaCom, Shell’s digital media agency. “These types of formats are the future of online video advertising.”

The Un-roll unit begins with a branded curtain that draws back to reveal the video and a branded blinkx video player when the video has fully buffered.

As the video plays, touch-points such as overlay ads and logos appear at contextually relevant moments within the video, generated by blinkx’s patented technology.

The video ends with a call-to-action and the viewer has the option to continue the experience on the brand’s Web site.

“Brands and agencies, like Shell and MediaCom, can tell their story through highly targeted advertisements within online television,” Chandratillake said.

blinkx engineers tested about 40 different formats before settling on the Un-roll format, which had what they considered the lowest “annoyance factor” and strongest brand identity stickiness.

In tests, the Un-roll format maintained between 2% and 12% click-through rates, and less than 20% of users clicked away from the video before it was finished. Only 15% clicked away because of an ad.

blinkx estimates that the format will maintain a 3% to 5% click-through rate over time.