Video Scarcity Pushes Publishers To Consider Context – Not Just Reach

Publishers that sell out of video inventory quickly are trying to increase video engagement by improving the quality of the user experience – not just chasing reach at the most cost-effective CPM.

For example, Little Things dumped autoplay, mobile interstitials and outstream in favor of click-to-play.

“We wanted video views to be on the consumer’s terms,” said Justin Festa, chief digital officer for Little Things, at JW Player’s JW Insights event in New York on Thursday.

“By running autoplay, you might [reach your desired] fill rate, but the user is not engaged with the brand the way they would if they raised their hands to watch the video,” he added.

Contrary to what it believed – that losing moneymakers like outstream and autoplay would put a dent in its monetization – Little Things actually improved its CPMs as well as consumers’ average time on site.

Also, viewability rates – which had declined after Little Things moved its video player above the fold – improved when the publisher ran relevant article content before the video player.

In turn, engagement metrics that go beyond video views and completions, such as duration, attention and time spent, helps publishers like Vice determine the content they should produce or syndicate when pre-roll sells out more than a year ahead of time. 

“Views are table stakes, but then we’re backing that into brand lift and how we’re affecting the emotions of our audience,” said Paul Wallace, VP of media solutions for Vice, which then takes those engagement metrics and brainstorms branded content from its analysis with advertiser partners.

Even though publishers are making small wins by expanding their end goal from “audience” – the first big pillar of programmatic video – to “context,” Ari Paparo, the CEO of Beeswax, predicted a continued disconnect in video between what marketers want and what’s good for the publisher’s wallet.

A publisher may view its ad inventory as premium because its video content is originally produced, but if the page housing the video player is littered with a bunch of affiliate links and content recommendations, the advertiser obviously may not see it in the same light.

“Years ago, it used to mean a lot to have millions of people view your content and to have that reach,” added Jonah Goodhart, the CEO of Moat. “I think we will see a shift away from volume to determining meaningful engagement. Marketers want ads that are fit for a purpose. What’s the mindset [of the consumer] and context?”

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