10 Questions For RFPing A Portal Or Video Ad Network

Having served over 3 billion video ads in the last couple of years, we have learned a few things about the business. Whether you are buying video ads from a portal, publisher with multiple sites or a video ad network, there are 10 questions we recommend that you ask before committing to the buy.

1. Can I select the specific sites (or URLs) within your network that my ads will appear on (or can I select sites not to be included)?

Controlling your video buy means understanding the content quality of the inventory. If you are not offered the ability to add or remove sites it is because:

a) You are likely to remove the site/s where the portal/network intends to send the majority of your ad budget.
b) The vendor doesn't have the technology to segment their inventory (this should be a red flag)

2. Can I see my campaign performance broken out site by site?

Even though you selected the sites that your ads should appear on, your ads will not necessarily appear on those sites or be spread equally among the selected sites. Make sure you ask for sites based on site performance as it is now offered by many players. I always recommend asking for a screenshot from every site agreed upon.

3. Can I optimize my campaign based on performance during the life of the campaign?

Many companies selling video inventory are forcing agencies to run campaigns regardless of performance. Many sites outperform the industry averages, based on CTR or attitudinal measures so make sure that you can optimize when you see the performing sites. You must have the above-mentioned performance breakdown to optimize against this data.

4. Will you guarantee that you will serve the entire allocated budget?

Video publishers are notorious about over-committing to inventory allocations and then under-delivering. In fact, many publishers have budget minimums and further under-deliver against that minimum! Be sure to make large sites or networks commit to budget fill, and put penalties in your terms for under-delivery.

5. Can we use my existing ad server (Atlas, Doubleclick) for billing purposes and to track impressions/clicks?

Discrepancies are a real issue when you use online advertising, but are nowhere more prevalent than in online video. It should be mandatory for any large budget that the agency's ad server is the source of truth for billing and tracking purposes.

6. Will my ads be served on any syndicated content or embedded video players off the approved sites?

Syndicated content and embedded video players are the single easiest way to waste a video ad budget. Most publishers and ad networks that offer syndicated content or embedded video players do so primarily as a way to generate a large volume of cheap inventory and, therefore, increased margin. It is not offered because it adds value to the advertiser's campaigns.

7. Will my ads be served on UGC sites?

Let's be honest, there is a lot more bad video inventory on the Web than high-quality video inventory. Not surprisingly, most of the bad video inventory is user-generated content. Unless your campaign target specifically includes UGC, I would avoid it at all cost. It under-performs on every performance metric we track.

8. Will there be any rich-media fees or ad-serving costs in addition to the media cost?

You are likely already paying ad-serving fees for your ad server, so you don't want to double your fees. Many vendors use rich media fees or ad serving costs as a way to extract additional budget out of agencies. The reality is that there are many vendors with enormous distribution that do not charge either of these fees, so make sure you do your research before you buy.

9. Can you handle all file conversions and technical implementation issues?

If your campaign includes mostly standard video ad units, then your media partner should bear the technology costs of converting your video files for every implementation. Put simply, all you should need to do is send the vendor the video files and any accompanying banners - they should be willing to handle the rest.

10. After we deliver campaign assets, how fast will the campaign go live and how fast can we pause the campaign if there are any issues?

Video ad execution often takes a bit longer than traditional display advertising, so you need to know what timelines you are dealing with. A reasonable timeframe is roughly three business days. Anything over that for starting or pausing a campaign should be reason for concern.

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