Survey: Video Drives Publisher Revenues

For publishers, video is projected to be the No. 1 revenue driver this year, fueled by better creative, better targeting and personalization of video ads, improved user experiences and faster load times.

That's per AOL's first "Publisher Outlook Report: Monetizing in the Age of Mobile & Video,"which surveyed 300 U.S. publishers to determine the challenges and opportunities they have encountered and expect to face in the next year.

According to AOL, publishers were surveyed “on the challenges and opportunities around creation, distribution and monetization — and how data and automation are empowering them every step of the way.”

In just one month, over 191.5 million Americans watched nearly 50.5 billion online videos. Some 48% of users watched videos in-app on smartphones, versus 18% on the mobile Web. Seventy percent of Millennials watched video on mobile first.

About 50% of publishers expect video and interactive ad formats to contribute more revenue in the next 12 months.

AOL reports that audiences are spending over three hours a day on mobile in the U.S., with 87% of that time in-app. The average person spends 79% of their time in just five apps.

Also, 73% of publishers increased mobile inventory in the last year and 75% expect to do so in the next 12 months. Nearly half plan to increase mobile inventory by 25%.

Seventy percent of publishers saw up to 50% mobile traffic growth in the last 12 months, and 30% saw 50-100% growth.

The biggest mobile challenge that publishers are facing are ad blockers, with 49% of those surveyed saying it was a strain on their business.

Quality of consumer experience and quality of content were also challenges for publishers, with 44% and 42% citing these as concerns in the transition to mobile, respectively.

Conversely, 43% of publishers said the biggest mobile opportunities were better audience metrics and interactive, engaging ad units. Those surveyed also said mobile-first video, faster ad loads and more mobile Web-based content were all opportunities in the space.

The AOL study also polled publishers’ sentiments on the Tech Tax, or the “dollars lost to multiple intermediary vendors across the ad buying process.” Less than 50% of ad media spend goes to publishers.

And, of course, there is the topic of monetization. How can publishers stay afloat when print ad revenue is dropping and the competition for consumers grows as ad blockers become more prevalent?

Over 90% of publishers found off-platform monetization important.

According to the study, more than 75% pursue subscription and ad-supported business models. Of those focusing on subscriptions, more than 75% expect to expand their subscription options in the next 12 months.

Most publishers have seen changes to their advertising models: 71% of their media sales are via programmatic. However, those surveyed said they continue to rely on header bidding. About half of all publishers use the technology.
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