In 2007, when the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) convened its first Digital Video convention, the session was billed as 'Broadband and Beyond' and promised participants a peak at how the potentially ubiquitous presence of digital interconnectivity might "influence how consumers interact with sight, sound, and vision on the internet."

"It raised the question, 'Could we possibly have television on the internet,'" Randall Rothenberg, IAB President/CEO told the 2011 assembly. "What we didn't know then is that broadband communications would become as common as breathing."

Since that initial gathering, the lessons have extended beyond just speed of delivery. "We were wrong about the idea that the web would be just about television on the web," Rothenberg said. "The web is on our TVs, but it's in our pockets and places we cannot even imagine… With so many devices in the marketplace, there's access to and opportunity for creativity for both pure content development and marketing-content development."

He added, "Digital Video is a boundless opportunity for content creators and the brands that need and love them."

In fact, the IAB head observed, digital video has moved out of experimentation, away from traditional research-and-development departments into mainstream operational units. When Kraft announced that it had renewed Real Women of Philadelphia (a digital cooking show, with consumers submitting recipes that feature Kraft's Philadelphia Cream Cheese), Rothenberg noted, it was a clear signal that mainstream marketers had discovered the power of digital media. In fact, according to the New York Times, the series has helped increase brand sales 5.6% in 2010 after several years of flat sales.

"Consumers are consuming video wherever, whenever and on whatever screens they want," Rothenberg continued. "[Programming] becomes targetable, interactive, and ever-present."

Brands, he said, are delivering fully digital content delivered on the same level as the networks, but on different screens. "And, unlike the networks, [the programming] can be wherever the consumer might be-whether it's a check-out line or a sunny knoll in Central Park."

The IAB reports that although digital video is just "a fraction" of total interactive spend, its usage (in terms of number of downloads) increased 250% year on year in the first half of 2010 (the most recent period for which data are available) "and we expect that the figure will hold reasonably steady for the balance of the year."

And that continued growth, he said, was indicative of "one of the most explosively developing segments of the digital marketplace." And, to drive that expansion, "much of the budgets will come from traditional television." That's not to say that the growth will come comfortably, Rothenberg cautioned. "Fair or not, measurement demands on interactive [television] far exceed those asked of passive TV."