Media Buyers' Guide To Video Shopping

Attention, media buyers: If you areevaluating online video with TV metrics like GRP and TRP, please be aware of what you are actually buying.  If you go bargain basement shopping for the lowest video CPMs hoping to maximize your reach and frequency at the lowest cost, you are going to come up short on realized ROI. As the adage goes, if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

Be aware of imitations. The problem plaguing video advertising right now is a simple difference between perception and reality. The inventory for in-stream video has grown immensely, but not quickly enough to meet overwhelming demand. In an attempt to meet this demand, many ad networks, particularly those rooted in display, take a more literal approach and define video advertising as an advertisement with video regardless of where that video is played. This is generally used to describe units in the display space either as rich media or as a syndicated player. If you ask for an in-stream ad, make sure that's what your provider is delivering. 

Do your research and know your specs. 

Before purchasing, know your specs. First examine your brand objectives, understand the elements of each video channel and choose the outlet that will lead you to success. There are three main video ad distribution models. Familiarize yourself with each one and complete a cost benefit analysis to understand the best option for your particular campaign.  

In-Stream Video

In-stream is the most effective and engaging video real estate for advertising. The content is user-initiated and is the primary focal point garnering the viewer's full focus and attention. Most often, in-stream is viewed on Web pages; however it can also expand to include video delivered to mobile, tablets or connected TV devices.

As a premium location for video ads, in-stream offers the highest visibility for your creative and also allows for a greater variety of ad formats and user engagement. However, with all these bells and whistles, this valuable inventory is priced at a premium CPM. This price is proportional to the quality of the placement. You wouldn't buy a car and expect to pay the same price you'd pay for a bicycle, would you? 


In-banner video ads are rich-media banner ads that play video within the boundaries of the display banner. They offer flexibility for delivering video ads and users can typically expand the ad for a better and larger viewing experience with additional engagement points. Keep in mind - this is not a video player, but rather a banner that can be placed anywhere rich media is accepted.  

In-banner provides multiple features and functionalities to engage users and also offers higher reach than in-stream. However, price will vary by functionality and site placement. Visibility and impact can also be compromised, as ads may appear below the fold.

Syndicated Players

Syndicated players extend reach of video content. They help distribute ads by placing video players within display banner spots. Video content and ads are placed on Web pages that don't already have video. User initiation is not always needed.

Syndicated player video ads are generally the most inexpensive video buys. They are typically placed on contextually relevant pages. Similar to rich-media ads, visibility and impact can be hindered due to banner blindness. Unlike in-stream or in-banner, the ad format is extremely limited in functionality. Finally, understand if you are buying auto- or click-to-play ads. There is a huge difference in terms of actual results and reporting. Auto-play can inflate view counts and make it seem like you're reaching more people than you actually are. 

So the question remains: Do you know what you've been buying?

Is it in-stream, in-banner, or in a syndicated player? Ask before you buy. Understand the realities of promised CPMs and reach. Understand what they mean for you and ultimately the brand ROI.

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