Earlier this year, video ad company Adap.tv launched a video ad exchange in partnership with Gannett Co. and Publicis Groupe's VivaKi digital unit. Now, its OneSource platform will have some competition from a rival video ad marketplace started by video ad network BrightRoll.
As with the online exchanges that have emerged in recent years for display and other types of advertising, the goal is to bring increased efficiency to the video sector by giving publishers a way to unload unsold inventory and media buyers an automated system for reaching particular audiences across a wide range of sites.
"What we're essentially releasing is a video advertising business in a box for buyers of online advertising," said BrightRoll CEO Tod Sacerdoti, who added that the new exchange dubbed BRX is an outgrowth of the company's efforts to further automate its own ad network over the last 18 months. BrightRoll is the third-largest U.S. video ad network based on streaming video ads viewed -- at 333,492 in June, according to comScore.
"We realized everything we were building was applicable to other media buyers and sellers," said Sacerdoti. A BrightRoll study earlier this year found that half of publishers surveyed reported that at least 20% of their online video advertising inventory is never sold, suggesting the potential for an automated, auction-based marketplace for pre-roll ads.
BrightRoll envisions agencies, video and display ad networks and demand-side platforms as key users on the buy side. The company has already been testing the system over the last four months with about a dozen buyers, including Interpublic Group's Cadreon digital ad network and social ad network Media6Degrees.
While BrightRoll's own network focuses on premium inventory, Sacerdoti said BRX will offer a much broader range of video content, including "curated" user-generated material (but not from YouTube), how-to videos and video in casual games. "The exchange will bring on board any piece of inventory we believe is brand safe," he said.
Sacerdoti added that the exchange could even lead to the creation of inventory that doesn't exist yet after being approached by a large social games company about inserting pre-roll ads into game play. Eventually, mobile video ad inventory will also be added to the system.
While video inventory at launch spans thousands of individual URLs and hundreds of sites, the system will allow advertisers to target audience segments using their own third-party or BRX demographic and behavioral data. "We think data-targeted pre-roll is a huge differentiator for this platform," said Sacerdoti. Marketers targeting in-market car buyers, for instance, would be able to extend display campaigns to video as well.
The proliferation of ad networks and exchanges for display advertising, however, led to a backlash by top Web publishers such as ESPN and Forbes that complained of the new online marketplaces pushing down pricing on premium sites.
Sacerdoti doesn't see CPMs for premium video falling as a result of the new exchange because it's still in limited supply. Instead, he stresses that better monetization will increase overall revenue for publishers. "Publishers who have large volumes of inventory are making more total dollars," he said. "We are total-dollars focused."