Video is one of the highest-priced types of ad inventory in 2020. There are plenty of reasons – from the growing prevalence of OTT devices and smart TVs, to the proven effectiveness of interactive in-game ads. Either way, advertisers are hungry for video ad inventory and plan to spend 64% of programmatic ad budgets this year on video. How much is that? Roughly $98 billion dollars. That is a hefty chunk of change.
As can be expected, video ads make a significant portion of ad revenues for publishers. When surveyed by AdColony [PDF], more than half of publishers said that video is the most engaging and exciting type of ads.
It seems that everyone is “doing video”. However, few prioritize optimization. To help you make the most of your video inventory, we’ve collected these 10 tips from video monetization specialists.
10 Tips for Higher Video Inventory Yield
1. Embrace direct advertisers
This may sound a bit obvious but direct advertisers are still the most sought-after source of demand. Getting your direct display advertisers or promoted content publishers to take interest in your video inventory is a great upsell. On the flip side, reaching out to advertisers who’ve seen good performance over programmatic channels is a wonderful way to grow your direct advertiser client base.
2. Implement (and optimize) header bidding
Whether you’ve already implemented header bidding on your site or not, the top sites in the world definitely have. Nearly 80% of the top 1000 sites used header bidding in March 2019, and that number is still steadily growing.
Though many publishers are still reluctant to expose their precious audience to unfamiliar demand sources, programmatic and header bidding are expected to be the next big thing for video ads. Enabled by advanced ad security and quality assurance tools, more and more of them are reaping the fruit of automated ad inventory sales.
3. Coordinate direct and programmatic sales for maximal yield
Direct advertising usually offers preferable pricing and reliability over programmatic. Programmatic offers its own advantages over direct advertisers, especially when it comes to smaller publishers. Ensuring you get the best results means successfully integrating both.
Make sure to coordinate the efforts of your direct and programmatic sales teams. This means ongoing performance measurement of direct, preferred, and unsold inventory revenues.
4. Reward your users
In recent years, the popularity of rewarded video ads has skyrocketed and it is not at all surprising. Rewarded video ads let publishers offer users some sort of on-site or in-app reward for viewing (or interacting with) advertiser video content.
This is especially common in the gaming app market, where publishers can integrate reward-based ads into gameplay without disrupting its flow. This, while maximizing their yield with the highest eCPM source. That’s not to say non-gaming apps and web publishers are out of luck. Any premium content can be offered in exchange for the user’s undivided attention.
Two of the advantages of rewarded video ads are their positive impact on user experience, as well as a potential tool for increasing user retention and lifetime value. For example, you can offer users an ad to view in order to earn temporary access to premium content.
This way you won’t only be earning ad revenues, but also increasing the chances of a user purchasing access to premium content on your app or website. The taste of premium is too good to ignore, but needs to be balanced; the value-exchange between you and the user needs to be and feel sensible. Otherwise, you risk losing prestige in the eyes of your users.
5. Protect the viewer experience
As a publisher, users are your main asset. Without them you have no business. This is something that is important to remember as you explore ways to optimize video ad inventory yield — it cannot come at the expense of your users’ experience. Whether on an app or a website, employing any kind of advertising that may interrupt the user experience is a tricky balancing act.
One critical aspect is making sure the user experience is a secure and positive one. Eliminating “bad” ads and potential malvertisements (or in the case of video – inappropriate content) is key to maintaining a loyal audience as well as loyal advertisers and partners.
6. Leverage data for detailed audience targeting
Packaging your audience in easily-targetable segments is a perfect way to use first, second and third-party data (in a compliant way) to give advertisers more value. It’s even more important to use this gathered data to your advantage with those advertisers. The zero, first, second, and third party data you gather will make your inventory much more valuable to them.
7. Optimize viewability
CTV and OTT video ads may have some of the highest average CPMs on the market, but if your ads can’t be easily seen, that won’t matter a wink. Ad Viewability is the degree to which an ad is seen by users on a website or app, rather than just served by the ad server.
The higher the viewability, the better it is for everyone involved. Publishers (such as yourself) see higher demand and revenues for their inventory. Advertisers see more sales, and users get a better overall experience. In fact, according to Google, increasing viewability on your video ads by between 50 and 90 percent can increase revenue by up to 80 percent.
Simple steps like slight increases to the video player size, and ensuring the ad cannot be skipped for 2 seconds at least, can make quite a difference in CPMs.
8. Ensure a glitch-free user experience
A glitchy user experience voids all the hard work you invest in publishing awesome content and retaining your audience. If you’re getting user complaints on performance and usability, you’re probably behind the curve already. Don’t wait for a noticeable impact and fix issues as soon as you detect them.
It’s not only about how fast ads video ads load (though this has a significant impact on ad viewability). You must also take into consideration how intrusive said video ads may be to your users’ experience, or how interactive video ads might impact the functionality of your application or website. Remember to test for speed and performance over different types of connections and with different types of hardware and operating systems emulated.
9. Prioritize yield over fill
Having ads that perform better and delight your audience is more important than always having an ad to serve. Just like your content, you want the ads your users see to be relevant, engaging, and of high-quality. Don’t be afraid to block advertisers or whole ad categories to ensure your users are not exposed to low quality ads.
There is no true formula to making your video inventory your new “cash cow”. The process is one that will take patience along with a bit of outside the box thinking. What works for one publisher will not necessarily be the key to building your video ad revenue stream. The answer is simple – test, then test, then test some more.
Intelligently evaluating different ad networks, players, demand sources and formats is the best way to find “what works”. Trial and error is still the best way to learn, but only if you make sure to measure and analyze said success or failure.
Looking ahead – what publishers need
The digital content ecosystem is still trying to figure out how to take advantage of video ads. Advertisers are constantly looking to get their videos in front of engaged users. For publishers, this is an opportunity but also a challenge.
One major challenge in the market is the publishers’ lack of technological tools to fully capitalize on their video inventory. Over 60% of publishers feel that a lack of technology is the greatest barrier to optimizing and managing video monetization. That said, new tools are developed to answer those needs as well as newly emerging ones.
Until those tools make video inventory monetization a breeze, our ten tips should help you boost the value of your video ad inventory.
Eyal Katz is head of marketing at Pangeo. Eyal also likes long walks on the beach at sunset, having a cocktail with friends, and listening to Swedish Death Metal