The growth of the online video advertising industry has been nothing short of spectacular. However, significant growth in any online market always leads to a whiplash effect of over investment, vendor expansion, lack of differentiation and general market confusion. The question of "How to Effectively Buy Online Video" sounds all too simple to demand an explanation. That said, we hear it so often that it seems to have fallen victim to market confusion. The answer is clear, but it is entirely dependent on the scale of the reach you are trying to achieve coupled with the relationship between price and inventory quality. Here are your options, broken up into six categories.
1. Buy from a single branded site:
The original traditional method of buying video is simple: just call up a branded publisher, execute and IO.
Rating: Brand safe, small scale and high quality.
2. Buy from a portal:
The second simplest method is to buy from a portal. In this scenario, you must frequency cap, restrict to owned domains and beware of music inventory.
Rating: Brand safe, medium scale and high quality.
3. Buy from a portfolio of branded sites/portals:
Buying large numbers of sites increases scale, but rapidly amplifies execution complexity and begins to open up control issues around placements.
Rating: Likely brand safe, large scale and high quality.
4. Buy a large portfolio of sites/portals from a network:
Large portfolios of sites and portals from a network maximize efficiency but also mean undisclosed publishers, content syndication or UGC increase risk.
Rating: Can be brand safe, very large scale and high quality.
5. Buy a site channel from a network:
Channels can provide huge reach, usually because you end up in low quality placements. If approaching this scenario, demand site disclosure and closely monitor performance.
Rating: Medium brand risk, very large scale and likely medium to low quality.
6. Buy a portal, portfolio of sites or a site channel with syndicated inventory:
Syndicated inventory is the perfect blend of massive reach and massive risk. Don't blindly trust distribution: ask for URL by URL disclosure.
Rating: High brand risk, very large scale and likely low quality.
Knowing your options when it comes to online video and the ultimate goals of your client will ultimately lead you in the appropriate direction. Based on our experience, there is a simple adage in the video advertising business: "If you don't know the sites your ad is running on, you are running on low quality placements." Content syndicators have been the most aggressive at packaging low quality placements into high risk bundles, so we always encourage site disclosure, URL by URL transparency and close performance measurement.
As the category of online video advertising matures, more video advertising dollars will flow to highly scalable, direct publisher relationships and efficient network solutions that package inventory in similar ways to direct publishers. The premium brands will ultimately live in the premium placements that their brand and ad dollars deserve.