I am often approached by publishers who want to grow video ad revenue and are willing to be flexible on pricing in order to get there. The challenge they sometimes face is that their amount of available inventory doesn't justify the CPMs at which they need to sell in order to remain competitive.
There are several ways that these publishers can grow their volume while maintaining a high-quality user experience and an audience of sought-after consumers:
Embrace casual gaming. According to Nielsen, "41 million Americans play casual games on average," with females making up the majority of casual gamers. Casual games present great pre-roll opportunities, typically as the game is loading, or during an intermission period while the next level is loading. Users tend to be engaged and leaning forward, which is perhaps why casual gaming inventory is some of the best performing across our network.
Just about any brand can be extended with a well-built casual game; if you don't have the talent in-house to create one, there are companies that you can retain to build the games for you.
Syndicate your content to trusted partners. Syndication can take the form of distribution partnerships with well-respected sites or embeddable players that your users can place on their personal pages. In the first case, advertising is generally allowed to "travel" to the distribution point, with the distributor typically getting a percentage of ad revenue.
In the second case, advertising is a bit trickier to handle. Many advertisers aren't OK with their ads traveling to sites that they did not pre-approve as part of the media plan, so you may wish to ensure that direct relationships with other high-quality publishers are part of your syndication strategy.
Use your long-form content. We are seeing a lot of advertiser demand for placement in full-length shows. Depending on the content that you create and/or license, you may or may not be able to capitalize on this trend.
If you do have long-form programming, take advantage of the spot breaks to run multiple mid-roll avails per show. In addition to the inventory avails that long-form content provides, we're seeing a meaningful CPM premium for full-length content versus clips.
Be careful with ad frequency. I just got off the phone with a publisher who has around two million per-roll impressions per month available, but wants that number to be much higher. He's currently frequency-capping pre-roll exposures to one per every two pieces of content. Although the temptation is strong to simply remove the frequency cap and double the available inventory, he wisely chose to keep the cap in place and grow the volume via other means. His experience is that going to a 1:1 ratio of pre-roll and content reduces page views per user.
In a market that strongly favors premium inventory at high volume, publishers are likely very eager to grow their volume while maintaining an excellent user experience. Selecting an option that allows for both will help our industry grow, and will provide added value for consumers.