Reach and frequency have served us well. For decades, this mass-messaging philosophy has guided our industry. It’s worked particularly well for Web publishers, who charge advertisers for pre-roll video that’s placed in front of entertainment, news, or sports content in bulk fashi
Many publishers have, understandably, avoided more targeted, engagement-based deals where advertisers only pay for user-initiated views. Such deals devalue forced “impressions” while placing the burden on publishers to deliver an audience that’s actively interested in watching a video: a tall order!
Google, of course, pioneered engagement-based advertising. Impressions are free in the company’s famous AdWords product -- advertisers only pay when someone clicks. Easy enough for the world’s largest search engine, when users type in their interests – but it’s not so simple for regular content sites whose audiences are typically there for entertainment or information.
Recent changes in social media advertising, however, are creating new opportunities for Web publishers to profit from engagement-based video. The model comes from social games, which have enjoyed tremendous success with online video advertising.
On social game sites, visitors are rewarded with virtual goods or currency each time they watch a video. This system delivers significantly higher net effective CPMs than standard pre-roll, and it’s a new, and virtually endless source of inventory. Social game users love it because it enhances their game experiences, and it puts them in control.
As I noted in a past article, this dynamic yields tremendous benefits for advertisers as well: millions of long-form video views, 70-80 percent completion rates, and Web visits, coupon downloads, and other activities after the view. Additionally, social video is highly targeted. Audiences are segmented by age, gender, and geography.
Now the opportunity is for the social video model to go mainstream. Non-social publishers don’t use virtual goods or currency, but their visitors could now have the choice to opt in and access premium content or services simply by watching a video.
This value-reward model is proving to be just as popular on non-social sites as it is on social games. Some publishers are adding virtual points systems to their sites, but others are using the videos as an alternative to pay walls or offer walls. In this way, they are mitigating the frustrations that visitors sometimes feel when encountering these barriers. They are also allowing visitors to get free samples of their premium content or services, which can help drive sales and subscriptions.
Most popular content sites are chronically sold out of pre-roll inventory. While this may sound like a good problem to have, it is limiting revenue growth and preventing billions of television dollars from flowing onto the Web. Social video helps publishers capture more dollars by creating new ways to monetize their audience.
We all know that our old friends reach and frequency won’t be going away anytime soon. It’s exciting, though, to see newer, more sophisticated advertising models delivering real value and changing the online video landscape for the better.