Is there really an advertising market for short video clips?

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Jasper Jackson, TheMediaBriefing Experts' Blog, Broadcast


Everyone wants more video content. Since the advent of affordable cameras and online hosting, every news and publishing organisation has been increasing their video output.

Johnston Press CEO Ashley Highfield says every JP journalist should produce one video a week - which see the company churning out 80,000 videos a year. So without wanting to spoil the fun, is there any tangible business case for creating more video content?

I've recently been told by a number of advertising technology companies that there is an under-supply of high-quality, short-form video from publishers. They say advertisers are practically crying out for somewhere to serve their online video ads.

That's welcome news to publishers who are putting resources into video content in the hope they can get significantly better CPMs than standard display ads.

But between the video-on-demand sites provided by mainstream broadcasters such as ITV Player and 4oD or the wealth of inventory on YouTube - is there really an unmet demand for the sort of video publishers can offer?

Standalone or brand extension

Pete Wallace, head of performance at ad agency Total Media, which works with firms including Renault and the Tate galleries, is sceptical: "A lot of our clients don’t necessarily quite know where they see digital video sitting in the mix. Some see it as an extension, others as a standalone format.

"Ultimately we still see decent investment in YouTube from the majority, because it is a very cheap way of getting decent reach. 

"But people who are seeing this as an extension, they want to be in amongst that traditional video-on-demand environment (such as 4oD)."

Wallace says most publishers are expecting high CPMs from video content - such as one national newspaper currently asking around £20 - but he warns they may fine that level unsustainable as the measurement of online video advertising improves.

That's because while context is still important to advertisers, it is far less important than the user themselves

He says: "If you look at the display market and programmatic trading, people are only paying what they perceive to be the correct value, and that’s based on the user not the content."

Data and audience

George Robbins, a former Starcom Mediavest Group head of video, who has now set up his own agency called Motion12 specialising in online video advertising, is more positive, but he says it's still about the audience rather than the content. Premium publishers have to secure the audiences advertisers want and the data to allow them to be targeted effectively

"Advertisers will say right I'm targeting this audience on a broadcaster site to access quality long form content - things like 4oD and YouTube give access to the largest video audience," says Robbins. 

"However they also need to be asking where else can I reach a specific audience elsewhere, for example for 16-34 men you could be looking at Yahoo! and ESPN on mobile."

"Clients want more and more proof video is working. Yes you can deliver brand and audience by purely chasing a genre on broadcast and skippable on YouTube, but by adding in premium short-form as well you could see better results and I think there will be a shift that way."

What publishers can do in video

Robbins has two pieces of advice for publishers trying to get the most out of video content:

-- Programmatic: "Speak to either premium video ad networks or RTB video platforms and get your site plugged in to them. They will then do the hard work of selling it which means the publisher can then go and get on with what they are good at."

-- Trial: "Start making different genres of video within your areas of interest and see what works. Users vote with their clicks so if you start seeing people view it, take those learnings and go make some and become the place for that content." 

Wallace says a more collaborative approach between advertisers and publishers - such as working on a sponsorship basis or creating bespoke content - will also help increase the appeal of working with premium publishers rather than YouTube or the broadcasters. 

"People are paying less attention to ads," he says. "So there will be much more of a partnership approach to this, especially in the short-term, when advertisers don’t have the expertise or the audience.

"Advertisers and agencies alike don’t just want to be seen as media planning and buying and (partnerships) resonate better with consumers."

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