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

Once you've set your strategy and determined ad formats, frequency of insertion, and targeting opportunities, it's time to execute. You'll want an Internet TV platform like Brightcove to manage your video programming, delivery, and advertising policies.

Make sure to choose a platform that was built to support advertising businesses. The platform you choose should seamlessly integrate with best-of-breed ad serving technologies such as DoubleClick DART, 24/7 Real Media's Open Ad Stream, or Atlas Ad Manager. You'll also need to determine your sales strategy.

Companies that are just launching video may prefer to start with a video ad sales network such as Tremor Media or banner networks like ValueClick or Advertising.com.

Google provides a combination of search, contextual, and video ad products that are worth considering. Ad networks are beneficial when you're just starting out, or when usage spikes unexpectedly, leaving unsold inventory on the table.

When you're ready for direct sales, you'll need staff to sell, service, and manage your advertising operations. You'll also need a site-side ad serving system like DoubleClick. While your Internet TV platform manages your advertising policies, your ad serving technology handles specific campaign scheduling, targeting, delivery, and reporting.

The key to maximising performance, and, therefore, realising high advertising rates, is targeting: matching the right ad to your audience and the medium. Performance should not be defined as a high click-through rate.

Instead, you and your advertising partner should define the goal of the advertising campaign during the request for proposal (RFP) process. Based on that goal, you can recommend the right package of placement and targeting opportunities. For video and other rich-media opportunities on the web, performance is often measured by the lift or increase in brand awareness. Focusing solely on click performance limits your potential.

If you've recently introduced video advertising options to your advertising partners, you may need to educate them on this. Use video as an opportunity to open up the discussion.

Targeting works best when you match the user's immediate interest with the advertiser's message; this is called contextual, or interest-based, advertising. Entertainment-based ads work best with entertainment-type content, such as music and other pop culture video.

Demographic-based ads work best when the user is engaged in related content. Other targeting opportunities include demographic, psychographic, and behavioural.

The right message served too many times results in decreased advertising performance, as well as a poor user experience for your audience. One form of targeting not often discussed, but important to video, is frequency-based targeting.

This lets you limit the number of times an individual user views an ad. Internet TV platforms like Brightcove seamlessly integrate with best-of-breed ad serving technologies that let you effectively implement frequency caps.

While targeting increases advertising rates, it decreases inventory availability. Whether it increases overall revenue depends on the volume of inventory available for targeting. Use targeting when your overall revenue potential is higher with targeting than without.

Internet TV presents an enormous opportunity to grow your audience and generate new advertising revenue. Your ad strategy should focus on your overall audience and an optimal user experience.

A good user experience results in more unique visitors, increased time spent, and higher repeat visits - all of which result in increased advertising opportunities and, ultimately, higher revenue.

Remember, no single approach fits all content. Different audiences, different genres, and the type and length of content command different advertising strategies. Choose the ad formats and frequency of insertion that best fit your particular content. Focus on building a great user experience and the audience, traffic, and advertising dollars will follow.

Strategic concerns

Different audiences, different genres, and the type and length of content command different advertising strategies. When setting your strategy, consider the following factors:

User experience

A positive user experience encourages return visits and the number of page impressions, and ultimately, creates more advertising inventory. You'll want to strike a balance that maximises advertising revenues while ensuring an optimal user experience.

Some companies are choosing to limit the type and frequency of advertising against their online video initiatives to focus solely on building audience. This strategy, however, may backfire since users may rebel when advertising is ultimately introduced. The best approach is to introduce advertising that fits with your video offerings and the rest of your site experience.

Audience interest

The higher the audience interest in the video, the more intrusive its advertising can be. If you have exclusive and high interest content, viewers will sit through more frequent and intrusive ads. If the content is low-interest, however, viewers will have less tolerance for ads, and will be more likely to click away.

Type of video

User-Generated or Professionally Produced. Marketers are eager to take advantage of the explosive growth of user-generated content distributed online, but most brand marketers are more comfortable associating their brand with known, or trusted, content. If your video content is largely user-generated, think about advertising opportunities outside the video window, and consider performance-based advertising instead of brand-building campaigns.

Episodic or snacking

Episodic videos are generally longer, and tell a story over multiple episodes. Snacking videos are usually shorter, and don't necessarily have a fixed order; viewers watch them in whatever order they like. With snacking videos, make sure the ad isn't too intrusive since you don't have the same level of investment from the viewer in staying through the ad to watch the video.

Length of video

Shorter video clips warrant shorter ads. A user doesn't want to sit through a 30-second video ad to watch 20 seconds of content. As a rule of thumb, limit advertising to less than 20 percent of the average video length watched per user.

Context of video

Video that's contextually integrated with other material in your site, such as articles and tools, warrants high rates because of the ability for interest-based targeting. Sponsorships and customised campaigns are great options for video that's contextual in nature.

Audience reach

If your website's audience is expansive, national brand advertisers and branded placements may work well for you. If your website attracts a smaller, niche audience, you may be able to maximise your investments by finding more targeted sponsors for your content.

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