Counterpoint: Web Video Need Not be the Wild West

A recent Digiday article compared the online video advertising industry to the “Wild West,” citing questionable online video practices from networks and “rogue publishers” and how agencies are risking their clients’ reputations by buying ad inventory on sites they’ve never visited.

Online video doesn’t have to be a risky proposition in lawless territory. It is possible, however, to successfully navigate the Wild West of online video advertising and achieve maximum gain by making sure every campaign includes these important components.Most online video buys today are not very strategic and use dart board-style, run-of-site or run-of-category content. Nevertheless, success starts and ends with the existing “premium” portion of the buy. It is also the area with the highest out-of-pocket cost. Additional challenges include limited inventory and typical under-delivery. Premium content hidden within ad networks provides a similar audience, significantly greater reach and lower CPM than a publisher direct-only buy. The content itself, rather than who delivers it, is essential to video advertising success.

For the most accurate campaigns, advertisers should use in-stream video targeting. Media buyers need to see what is within the video and go far beyond the text and static images around the video to be able to effectively identify and classify within the video itself. Knowing where all the ads are running eliminates the threat of potential damage to the brand from inadvertently advertising on inappropriate content. In-stream video targeting also exposes previously unclassified content as premium content, which saves money.

Advertisers should leverage existing investments in their media partners for maximum campaign scale. Start with a catalyst, which in this case is an existing traditional media buy (online and broadcast, if applicable). Media buyers should determine where they are already advertising to enhance their brand. Next, extend the targeting criteria to video by specifying key attributes within the existing media buy. What are the programs and/or themes the brand is already aligning with? Are there any specific actors, objects or products within the content that the brand wants to identify?

An online video ad campaign cannot be considered successful without measuring effectiveness. Brands want proof that the targeting method works before committing to future campaigns. Fortunately, several measurement options exist, including viewer engagement, video ad completion rates, the ability to track where the ads run and audience demographics, among others. Using these measurement options, advertisers can be sure their campaigns are running according to plan and can rework their targeting options mid-campaign if necessary to get back on track.

Mike Sullivan is CEO of Affine, a contextual ad targeting platform for online video.

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