Making an impression

Developing profitable advertising-supported video content can often prove as technically challenging as distributing that content online. Jeff Whatcott offers some helpful tips for maximising advertising revenues from web-based content.

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By  Jeff Whatcott Published  February 17, 2009

Takeover ads are launched on player load or as a click-through from an overlay unit. The key to an effective takeover placement is striking a balance between advertising and a good user experience. It's best to provide a close or skip button while the takeover is playing, and to use a countdown clock (for example, :07 seconds remaining).

The recommended length of a takeover ad is ten seconds, although many advertisers are running 30-second takeovers. When the advertisement has finished its run, the player content replaces the takeover ad.

Takeover units can offer specific calls to action that let users interact further with the ad. Many takeovers will be reinforced with an overlay at other points in the video.

If the video isn't in full-screen mode, a companion unit can be displayed to reinforce the advertiser's message.

Sponsorships are an excellent way to maximise advertising revenue on the entire page and throughout the site, not just within the video window. Sponsorships are often customised integrations that may include in-stream video ads, overlays, companion units, skinned video windows, and takeover ads.

Sponsorships tend to be sold on a time basis, not an impression basis. For example, an advertiser may buy a roadblock sponsorship where the advertiser owns the entire inventory on a page for a full day.

Sponsorships enhance brand awareness and are appropriate for professionally produced content that's long- or short-form, episodic or snacking in nature.

Video monetisation isn't limited to in-stream. Advertising opportunities outside the video window include text, banners, and sponsorship units. These units can be refreshed while the video continues to play. Revenue generated from these units should be attributed to the video.

When selecting the ad formats appropriate for your website, remember that your goal is to monetise the audience, not just the video window. Make sure to provide opportunities outside the video window and allocate revenue generated from these units to back the video. Think about how you can package advertising opportunities across your site, and how including video can sell the overall package for more value.

Once you've chosen which ad formats to offer to advertisers, determine the frequency of insertion. Your choice will be driven by the conflict that exists between the quality of the user experience and the volume of impressions you can create in your content. If the frequency of insertions is too high for the content, it will drive users away. If it's too low, then you won't maximise your revenue.

There are many different insertion schedule options. An ad can serve at any point during the video experience: before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll), and after (post-roll). The most common form of pre-roll is the in-stream video ad, but banner units, sponsorships, and takeovers can also run before the video content starts to play.

The mid-roll, while interesting in concept, requires logical commercial break points in the content, so it's not always feasible. One easy-to-implement mid-roll example, however, is a companion banner unit that refreshes outside the video window. Post-roll is another common insertion point, but since it requires viewers to watch the entire video, it's not ideal for long content or content with credit rolls.

In terms of frequency of insertion, the standard today is to run one video ad, every other play, and most often at the start of the video play. Many sites choose not to run an ad on the first video play, waiting instead until the second play to insert the ad. Internet TV platforms like Brightcove give companies the flexibility and control to schedule ads on a video play or time-based frequency.

Time-based scheduling lets you insert an ad after a user has watched content for a specific length of time. For example, you can specify that an ad should run at the next available ad slot after a user has watched two minutes of video content.

Time-based scheduling makes sense for longer-form content with multiple insertion points within the video, and for shorter-form snack content where a user may watch only five seconds of one clip and ten seconds of another before moving on to a third clip. The time-based approach can result in fewer impressions served, but it tends to provide a better user experience.

The optimal frequency of insertion depends on the type and length of your content, as well as your users' viewing habits.

This is the web. There is a lot of room for experimentation. After setting your initial strategy you should test, measure, retest, and try again. No single approach fits all content. The best way to maximise your advertising revenue while optimising your user experience is to experiment. Try different ad formats, frequency of insertion, and placements. Since everything is measurable, you'll quickly learn what works best for your audience and your site.

Online advertising models

In-Stream Video Ad

The in-stream video ad is similar to a TV commercial that runs inside the video window in place of video content. The ad can be any length, but 15 and 30 second spots are most common.


The overlay is a branded rich-media or text ad that appears in the lower-third section of the video window while the video is running. An overlay doesn't delay video viewing because it plays in parallel with the video.

Takeover AD

Takeover ads display over the full video player, letting an advertiser deliver an uncluttered, rich-media experience. The takeover shows particular promise with full-screen, full-length, high-quality shows.

Companion AD

Companion ads can be graphical or text, and are located outside the video window. They can appear anywhere on the web page, and are not limited to just one unit. Companion ads often run in conjunction with an in-stream or overlay ad and typically remain visible after the video ad has ended.


Sponsorships are an excellent way to maximise advertising revenue on the entire page and throughout the site, not just within the video window. Sponsorships are often customized integrations that may include in-stream video ads, overlays, companion units, skinned video windows, and takeover ads.

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