With online video advertising expected to grow by 40% in comparison to last year, topping $3.1 billion in 2012 (according to eMarketer forecasts), advertisers are looking for new ways to drive video engagement and reach their target audiences. One such “solution” has been to extend commonly used display tactics into the video space. While many companies tout their ability to use targeting algorithms and the ability to buy “premium” ad impressions in real time, most advertising buyers remain interested in more tangible forms of media and a clear understanding of where and when their message has been seen and heard.
For this to happen, audiences have to be willing to sit through 15- or 30-second pre-roll to reach their desired video, and the only reason the consumer will do that is a strong desire for the content payoff. Amid all of the video industry growth forecasts, content has never been more important in video advertising.
While there are several quality sites that provide advertisers with access to premium content such as TV series, full-length movies, and original Web content, they simply do not deliver TV-like scale. Regardless, advertisers continue to pay high CPMs to surround content that either lives on the URL or relies on other users to embed and/or share. This makes it difficult to reach the broad audience that advertisers are used to on television.
Video ad networks and exchanges have helped to solve the scale problem, but given the desire to reach and appeal to the masses, content quality has become a big concern. Some networks have tried to overcome this issue with video-scanning technologies, looking to match video metadata with contextually relevant ads. Since this method is not quite foolproof yet, and the networks cannot guarantee that the cookies actually deliver on their promise, the best targeting in the world cannot force a consumer to watch an ad if they decide the video payoff is not worth the wait.
According to comScore, the U.S. internet audience watched 36.6 billion online videos in May, and 10 billion ads were served. It is certainly safe to say that content is a proxy for the audience, and worthwhile content incentivizes viewers to watch an ad message before proceeding to their video. It will not be long before we begin refocusing our attention to content delivery at scale, rather than simply audience delivery at scale, without true regard for the specific content offering.
For video advertising to reach the massive growth that everyone predicts, advertisers need some assurance that they are not getting just good, but unquestionably great, content. The strategy of quality content alignment, at scale, across hundreds of sites, is similar to content syndication, which pulled TV through a rough patch. It will more than push the digital industry forward here, too.
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