The problem is context. Matching the video content to the topic of the page is a good start, but it isn't enough. If you have a player with video about the New England Patriots sitting in the right rail on a page that has an article about Tom Brady, that comes across to the user as related video. It says, "Okay, you read that article about Tom Brady that you were interested in, and if you want video about his teammates or the team, click here." That's not a bad value proposition, but it's second best.
The better implementation is a video player that is presented in-line, in the body of the article and is directly about Tom Brady. Your user clicks to read the article, and the video player has a video still of Brady in the player window. In addition, there is a headline that tells the user that the video has content about Brady, which relates to the article. It is not merely a reiteration of the article, it is a companion piece that delivers content that is particularly suited to video and therefore augments the article. The result is a true multimedia presentation of the article, and it is presented to the user in an easy to digest integrated package. This video is not tangentially related to the article, it is part of the article.
We have video players in more than 60 news and information sites and have tracked the differences in conversion rates in these kinds of placements, and it is dramatic. In-line players see conversion rates that average double digits and, when the content is ideally matched, it can be up to 50%. We started out as a highlight widget, creating custom sports video packages. This model helped it gain fairly wide distribution as an embedded right rail unit, but it was when it began to create custom content that merited inline placement in the heart of the page's content that its video engagement numbers took off.
Sites such as boston.com (Boston Globe), sportingnews.com (Sporting News), philly.com (Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News), sunsentinel.com (Sun Sentinel) and jsonline.com (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), have embraced the in-line concept with the full support of their editorial departments. This is critical so that it is not just a matter of slotting a video player into a predetermined spot in a page template.
These sites have fully integrated video into their content presentation, and have seen their user engagement soar and their ad CPM's rise as a result. This is the true promise of the web, integrating various types of content into a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Fragmented content presentation fragments the user's attention. Integrated presentation focuses and engages the user. And if you can engage your user, you really will be doing everything right.