While video advertising is flourishing, the reality is that there’s still a lot of confusion out there. For publishers, the technology landscape is often particularly perplexing, confronted as they are by an ever-growing list of ad tech vendors, formats and players. Here Avi Latner, Sr Director, Product, HIRO Media, outlines five things video publishers can look at when weighing up vendors and their strategic options.
As publishers and media companies adjust to a world of declining print subscription and cord cutters, many have begun to enable autoplay video on their websites and within their mobile apps. In fact, CNN’s GM of digital, recently went public with details around their autoplay video strategy; not to mention how AOL threads its content with ad supported video, and how right column videos are increasingly common on FOX, ABC and The Blaze. None of this is all that surprising as video advertising can nearly double a site’s revenue.
Let’s not forget though, that not that long ago users were annoyed by videos playing at the corner of their screens. However, now that both Facebook and Twitter’s news feeds are abound with autoplay videos, attitudes have quickly changed. Now users have come to expect these autoplay videos, if the content is appealing, they’ll keep watching. This trend is in stark contrast to the plague of banner blindness that happened with display advertising.
So too have brand advertisers come to accept autoplay, sound-on-click videos as an efficient, cost effective way to reach and engage with target users. They are keenly aware that most video ads on Twitter are seen but not heard and most video ads on Pandora and similar audio streaming sites are heard but not seen. Accordingly, advertisers are beginning to prepare videos that independently carry their message according to each sense.
As great as all of this appears, the successful transition into video advertising has posed a number of major challenges to publishers. For instance, Flash video players from careless vendors crash sites; Java scripts clumsily injected into HTML5 ads that autoplay sound. And let’s not overlook that fact that there’s a plethora of ad-ware too.
The industry’s lengthy transition from flash to HTML5 only adds to the challenges as ad-tech platforms and advertisers make uncoordinated updates to their technology stack. To help alleviate some of these challenges, I wanted to offer five steps that, when followed, could help a publisher enjoy the full revenue potential of video ads without compromising user experience:
1. Familiarise Yourself with the Intracies of the Video Technology Providers
As with all industries, not all video vendors are created equal. Some run value-adding content, others just run ads. Some developed proprietary technology built to minimize buffering, scan for adware and blend HTML5 and flash seamlessly. Others run generic video players. It’s important to get to know all of the players and what makes each one unique and of most benefit to your immediate and long-term needs.
2. Demand More From Your SSP
You probably haven’t noticed, but your SSP account managers are human, and to err is human. Sometimes they look for the easy route or take short cuts. When a publisher complains about a video ad not adhering to their rules, the SSP may simply stop all video vendors from running on the site. The problem stops for a week, however by that time the publisher has felt the revenue loss and all video ads are let in again. Since the vendor responsible wasn’t identified and held accountable there’s a higher risk of reoccurrence. So it’s important to demand more from your SSP. Hold them more accountable around the details that matter most.
3. Audit Your Website With View Source
Beyond demanding more from your SSP, publishers can also make their job a bit easier by adding sources logs to their audit screenshots. Using View Source’s ‘inspect element’ in Chrome or Firebug, publishers can capture the HTML call made by the video player.
A complaint with an HTML call, along with a screenshot of the ad will increase the chances that your SSP identifies the right technology vendor vs. shutting them all down. Ironically, when SSPs miss-identify vendors they tend to block the biggest vendors, since they are the easiest to spot, and they only make the problem worse.
4. Consider Friendly iFrames
Friendly iFrame’s (i.e. transparent) separate the site’s content from the ad placement, allowing for asynchronous load (i.e. the ad won’t slow your page) and protects the site from crashing ads. Friendly iFrames shield the content from the ads while still giving the ad access to the site’s URL.
5. Use a Bot and Malware Detector
With bot traffic and ad fraud at an all time high, it is more critical than ever to implement bot and malware detection on your site or allow ads only from sources that scan for ad-ware. It doesn’t have to be real-time ad-ware or malware blocking, in-fact real-time blocking can cause more harm than good. Sampling just a portion of the ads and using near real-time alerts will due fine. Video ad-malware detectors are a novelty, but the early adopters will reap benefits.