While global online video ad spend is set to grow above 20 percent in 2015, the quality of ads remains a core challenge for the medium.
Online video broadcasters, media publishers, and the industry at large have work to do in order to improve the video ad experience for advertisers and consumers, as well as achieve parity with linear TV video ad quality. There are several key issues currently affecting online video ad quality, but innovative solutions are emerging to support growth and improve the experience.
Despite online video becoming the fastest growing ad category, the relationship between online video ad buyers and sellers has long been plagued with inventory quality issues. Many of these issues are rooted in the disparity between premium and non-premium video inventory.
Premium, higher-quality inventory that could help drive TV-level audience reach and ad budgets online remains scarce; primarily sold directly by premium media brand and TV sites, it is often offered behind paywalls or quickly sold out. On the other hand, non-premium mid- to long-tail inventory, primarily sold through exchanges and ad networks (and driving the bulk of total online video ad revenue) is often unreliable. This non-premium inventory, in particular, has had its share of challenges in the space revolving around several core, quality-related problems:
- Ads appearing in pirated or non-purchased content —- jeopardizing brand safety
- Ads attached to non-viewable impressions —- reducing impact
- Non-human generated impressions (bots and botnets) —- siphoning ad dollars
- Lack of perceived transparency —- decreasing trust
These are not minor issues. Indeed, they are a huge cost to the industry. The price tag of poor-quality video ad impressions has been reportedly set by Vindicio at a staggering $1.2 billion each year and a separate report found 56 percent of tracked online video ads were non-viewable. In fact, a study by the Association of National Advertisers and White Ops reported that, incredibly, nearly one-quarter of video ad impressions in 2014 came from bots.
Resolving these quality problems is vital to the sustained growth of the medium, as TV ad budgets continue to shift to online video ad budgets thanks to audience migration and the efficiencies of data-driven programmatic technology. This change is happening rapidly: In addition to the overall online video ad spend increases this year, programmatic video ads are expected to secure 40 percent of U.S. digital video ad spending in 2016—-a total of $3.84 billion—-up from 28 percent this year, according to eMarketer.
So What to Do?
These events have helped escalate advertiser interest in premium video inventory, which online video providers increasingly make available via programmatic methods, and fuel continued demand for better ad measurement standards.
Solutions to the quality dilemma are taking shape on both fronts, and are advancing among online broadcasters and media publishers around the world.
The Premium Programmatic Advantage
Programmatic trading for premium video inventory can help improve quality issues by expanding premium inventory access, offering more reliable delivery, and providing rich insights and forecasting, ultimately driving increased revenues. Private programmatic marketplaces (PMPs) with preferred trading partners are also increasingly favored by broadcasters and media publishers as they can maintain better control of their most valuable inventory, rates, and ad partners; offer safe, high-quality trading environments; and form cooperatives to generate greater audience reach.
The use of programmatic and private premium exchanges for linear TV advertising is also emerging, promising to drive even greater platform parity, convergence, and quality improvement as cross-screen measurement is also being refined.
Standards for Metrics and Currencies
As the industry steps ever closer to universal GRP measurement and other standard metrics, broadcasters and media publishers will be better able to measure ad viewability and performance; sell, integrate and optimize inventory; and accurately track and analyze audiences across video screens. These advances will help improve both the overall ad quality value proposition and revenues for this group.
This activity is global, too. In addition to efforts by U.S. companies like Nielsen to develop a common GRP across platforms, in France there has been an industry decision among leading companies from both the buy-side and sell-side to agree on a common national standard to measure video ad campaign impact. Médiamétrie’s online video GRP measure is designed to incorporate ad completion rates and viewability so that online campaigns can be more easily compared to those on linear TV.
Viewability as a standard metric is increasingly employed by online video providers to strengthen the validity of their video ad impressions and overall video ad quality. According to Media Rating Council (MRC) guidelines, the measure shows that 50 percent of a video ad was on the screen for at least 2 seconds. By removing non-viewable impressions from campaigns the metric can help improve ad placement and increase ad revenue. Recent studies have pointed to generally higher viewability grades among the premium video ad inventory found on major media and broadcast sites, such as CBS.
Finally, online broadcasters and publishers are moving towards deeper engagement metrics and alternative pricing models to drive quality in lieu of traditional impression-based models. CPV (cost-per-view) is one option based on video quartile viewing completion events—versus impressions served in the CPM model—to provide a more attractive currency from measured performance and engaged views. Online video providers need to be open to evolving standards, aligning with the broader industry ecosystem that supports them.
Employing these premium programmatic trading and measurement solutions will help steer online video providers and the online TV advertising universe as a whole towards greater quality, credibility, opportunities, and innovation in the future.
Guest post by Paula Minardi, digital TV marketing manager at Ooyala. OnlineVideo.net accepts guest posts based upon their usefulness to our readers.
Quality image via Shutterstock.