Most Publishers Need To Rethink Their Video Advertising Strategies

"On TV And Video" is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Joe Hirsch, CEO at YellowHammer Media Group.

Video advertising is not the same for all publishers. The lucky few large premium publishers that rely on a direct sales force to sell advertising have completely different needs than the vast majority of publishers relying on automated demand sources for the majority of their video advertising revenue.

For these smaller shops, there is no rate card or custom sponsorship to bring in the big bucks. Growth strategies come down to very specific tweaks to process, metrics and partnerships.

Yet few publishers are actually making the changes that they need to increase yield.

Pick A Variety of Demand Partners, But Not Too Many

Smaller publishers don’t always have a direct line of communication to brand advertisers, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t get access to their demand. In fact, accessing high-quality partners is often easier through traditional rep firms and ad networks, not just the large programmatic platforms.

Regional and more conservative brands that have shied away from programmatic channels are likely to pay high CPMs for premium content, even if it is through a network. Too often, smaller publishers ignore these options for being old-fashioned or because they might be difficult to fit into a programmatic strategy. But the extra relationship is well worth the added revenue.

While variety helps with revenue, there is a ceiling, which many publishers go way over. Any more than four or five demand partners and the manual labor to manage them becomes too great. It’s difficult for many smaller publisher shops to optimize across different parts of their websites or review daily reports if they beef up on partners. This tends to cause stagnation and revenue often plateaus.

Focus On The Right Metrics

When video inventory is sold out with guaranteed placements, CPM is the metric that works. For other publishers, CPM can be very misleading. Many less experienced publishers don’t account for the variable delivery that can occur through video demand sources that affect top-line CPM.

For example, a publisher might get $8 CPM from one platform and $12 CPM from another. However, the $12 CPM partner fills only half the inventory while the $8 platform has a nearly 100% fill rate. In this scenario, the effective CPM (eCPM) of the $12 partner is really only $6. While this is similar to issues that have occurred through ad networks for many years, many publishers haven’t changed their measurement to eCPM.

Publishers also fail to account for latency correctly. Partners who return ads slowly increase latency and ads that don’t run smoothly increase consumer drop-off. High latency from a high-paying demand partner should push it down in the ranks.

Know Your Options

Smaller publisher shops have a lack of resources, which should encourage them to make the very most of the technologies and partners to which they have access. Display is largely automated, but video still has room for manual changes that make a big difference. For example, publishers should run tests to identify acceptable levels of latency in their ad server. They should play with viewability settings to find the right balance of price demand and consumer engagement.

Publishers should also keep up with different video formats, asking partners regularly if there is demand that they are missing out on. Video advertising is still new, and requires a curious and dynamic approach to maximize return.

Follow YellowHammer Media Group (@yellowhammermg) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.


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