It’s happened to almost everyone. You go to a blog -- say, to find a trick in Excel -- then suddenly, you hear loud audio. You desperately scan the page to mute whatever is making the noise, scrolling down and find a video player embedded there, autoplaying a video you did not intend to watch, often with a VAST-standard pre-roll ad in front of it.
This is more common than most marketers think, and rarely disclosed. Sometimes, this is transparently sold -- usually billed as “autoplay pre-roll” -- but not always. There is even a blog dedicated to publishing examples of this, posting screenshots of top brands like Audi and Verizon running the ads and showing the source code of the vendors that place them.
Why tell this story? Because “fake pre-roll” is a perfect example of a conversation we are all forced to have, and should not have to, given what is possible. When buying digital video, marketers deserve at a minimum to know everything they know with TV, such as exactly what content an ad appears against and real data on audience reach, which Nielsen is making possible through its online GRP reporting.
But digital allows for so much more information. Marketers should not only know exactly where an ad is running, who it is reaching and whether it is achieving their goals, but also -- and this is what is missing -- be able to control these variables at all times without “leaning on vendors” (as one marketer put it).
Real-time buying promises to bring about this change in digital video. A recent Forrester report (full disclosure: TubeMogul commissioned the report) compares benefits of real-time buying of video to traditional, broad-based buying (i.e. from ad networks).
The benefits come down to one word: control. Brand marketers can evaluate impression-by-impression, which allows them to constantly tweak budgets, audience mix, sites they are advertising on and more based on audience data. They can fluidly shift budgets based on performance rather than issuing RFPs every quarter, sending IOs and emailing vendors to get better results. And, finally, they can dynamically exclude autoplaying pre-roll.
To be sure, the RTB opportunity in video is not perfect yet, and issues remain. Forrester points out that education, structural issues, inventory quality and getting the right measurement for impact -- often-cited problems for digital video in general -- are acute in the market. But control is everything, and marketers should not have to send angry emails every week to get it -- we can all do better.