Video advertising grew more than 50 percent in 2011 alone, and the latest forecasts call for growth to continue into the next four years, which is great news for any publisher looking to monetize video content on their site.
Of course, growth comes with growing pains, and publishers dealing with video inventory certainly aren't immune from ad-serving woes. The lost impressions, devaluation concerns, and complications of dealing with multiple demand sources are enough to keep an ad ops manager awake at night. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome each of those ailments.
A lost ad exposure is one of the worst publisher experiences, yet it is an all too common occurrence in video. Agency ad servers often flip "off" a campaign or change creative without notice, forming significant issues for publishers and networks alike. When a specific ad slot is designated to an advertiser and the ad server returns no ad -- for whatever reason -- the publisher using a general daisy chain structure will experience significant latency and likely time out the ad call and move to content.
Publisher and networks often try to devise manual or partially automated approaches to "monitoring" ads that are returned or not returned from third party ad servers, but these systems are reactive at best. A network or publisher can go a whole weekend with no resolve, yielding millions in lost ad exposures.
Automatic monitoring can counteract this problem, but publishers also need to think about holding demand partners accountable for bids. Filling remnant inventory isn't just about price -- the buyer needs to be ready with an actual ad when they win a bid. Just because an ad source bids 20 percent higher then the next bidder doesn't mean that buyer is right for higher yield. If there's no actual ad returned, the smarter move is to take the lower bidder with an ad ready to go.
RTB is not about merely accounting for the highest CPM, but ensuring the right "real" buyer is matched with an eligible ad slot.
Private exchange and ad blocking
Premium publishers are still hesitant to open up unsold video inventory to ad networks, despite the promise of high CPMs, because of questions about "devaluing" their inventory. Network models that promise blind execution don't do much to challenge the devaluation argument, but ad quality can.
Universal control over the ads coming from a network is a larger concern in video than in display, due largely to the premium nature of the video environment. Video earns higher CPMs and the ads themselves have greater exposure than display units. Publishers concerned about maintaining value and brand safety should consider private exchanges and tools to deal with ad blocking.
The private exchange model means publishers only open their remnant inventory to trusted networks or trading desks. In fact, publishers could use private exchanges to upsell their current advertisers for higher spend and lower CPMs, all while reducing manpower via their private marketplace. This helps publishers focus on streamlining their current relationships, rather than worry about devaluing their inventory.
Multiple demand sources
Video is still nowhere near display in terms of scale, but over the past two years it has grown enough to draw the attention of demand-side platforms. There are roughly 15 to 20 active demand partners in the video ecosystem, led by five core buyers. Every six months or so, a new demand partner enters the game, generally in the form of a display network trying to make money in video. But each new demand source adds to the complexity of managing remnant inventory.
Aside from revenue, a publisher's biggest concern is avoiding sales channel conflict and respecting direct-buy requests for category exclusivity. When dealing with multiple DSPs, it's very difficult for ad operations teams to manage these directives while maximizing yield.
New entrants will often pay to play, so publishers can't ignore them. Yet these new DSPs don't spend enough for a publisher to devote significant time. By enlisting the help of a supply-side platform, publishers can use RTB to level the playing field, giving each buyer equal standing while achieving the highest possible yield for every ad slot, maintaining quality and avoiding channel conflicts.
A publisher's core mission is to foster direct-sale advertising relationships. Video is an exciting new revenue stream, but it can also be complicated. By taking the precautions above, publishers can enjoy the benefits of video monetization without sacrificing their core mission.
Erwin Castellanos is EVP, sales and business development, at LiveRail.
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Feature art sourced from mgrhode1.