I’m not suprised that the New York Times has video ads — they’ve tended to be pioneers in ad formats — but I’m suprised that they’re done so badly.
This morning I was trying to read this story when all of a sudden my screen started flickering, my CPU monitor jumped to 100 percent used and my system slowed to a crawl.
The ad was presented via Java applet, and I’m not sure who wrote the code but it practically brought my Pentium 4 rig to stand-still.
There’s nothing wrong with video ads as a medium but they should probably follow some rules (these could go for editorial video too):
# Ads should not interfere with a user’s computing exerpience — test thoroughly
# Video ads should *always* present an image first that the user must click to access the video.
# The image should always explicity tell the user that they’ll receive video if they click the image and should include pertinent info like file size and whether there is sound.
# Once the video has started playing there should be a clearly identifiable way to stop the video and mute the sound.
# The video should *never* loop.
That said, I’d make one addendum to the list: provide a download this ad link. If you’re going to run video ads, they should be particularly creative and entertaining. Some users might want to download the ad for later viewing or to show to a friend. (For doubters, how many folks went to, or knew folks who went to Ad Critic before it became pay?).
I mentioned this before, but Flash seems like a reasonably cross-platform way to deliver the video and the aforementioned rules could be easily carried out in Flash.