7 publisher best practices for programmatic video growth

Dvir Doron

The perception of programmatic video has changed dramatically over the past year. Cast into the bottom of the barrel, as a solution for unsold inventory, programmatic has evolved into a premier Marketplace for video transactions.

Figures show that publishers and marketers are increasingly getting more comfortable with programmatic video trading. According to J.P Morgan programmatic video in the US alone is tipped to grow 12% in 2017 compared to 2016 and is growing faster than search. The rising number of players, technology shifts and growing auctioning and bidding options are all contributing to the rapid transition in programmatic video.

To help publishers maximize the programmatic video space, we identified key best practices for programmatic video growth.

1. Ensure you are getting a truly open exchange system with less intermediary tech-tax

According to the IAB, $45 out of $100 ad purchases goes to the publisher. So where do the other $55 go? In the video technology sphere, and in particular in programmatic video, transparency issues are even more severe.

Transparency is also complicated by the fragmentation of different video ad technologies and the adaptation demands of an ever-growing range of devices. One of the key benefits of the programmatic video is the removal of walled gardens and the creation of a transparent media agnostic environment. The challenge is to find next generation video tools that help to cut back on the middlemen and offer a more transparent model. Video tech stacks sitting on SaaS-based models are worth evaluating.

2. Consider taking your video stack in-house

The shifts in programmatic video technology over the past year make it increasingly possible for companies to reclaim control and arm in-house teams with more powerful, advanced and user-friendly tools.

New programmatic video solutions are achieving more scale, efficiency, transparency and performance beyond what was possible. Publishers who value more control are building in-house competencies around execution, measurement and optimization.

3. Use RTB for first-stage insights and results

In the open Real Time Bidding (RTB) marketplace publishers have the advantage of vital insights and more inventory control by tweaking pricing. For instance, publishers can see what specific audience segments are best performing and which are the most sought after by advertisers. These insights can be used strategically to maximize the value of audiences and optimize for cost efficiency by building stronger relationships with the high-value customers and attracting new audiences that match this profile.

But although RTB makes it easier to reach wider audiences, it does not give a guarantee on return. In mobile, the favored format for video there is no universal cookie alternative for devices, making it even more difficult to draw data. Nevertheless, with more focused user-targeting and better insights, RTB can provide better cost efficiency for video campaigns and more exposure to demand. So publishers trading via RTB can use insights on what they’re selling, who they are selling to and what prices work best to form direct sales pricing and strategy.

4. Consider combining programmatic direct with video header bidding

Programmatic Direct, an automated version of the insertion order, offers the distinct advantage of guaranteed demand at pre-set prices. The promise of programmatic-direct is the ability to secure premium ad slots at premium prices, which is highly critical for video. The downside is that it does not guarantee publishers that all ad inventory will be sold. The arrival of video header bidding introduces a more advanced channel for data-driven decisioning based on audiences, not inventory. Access to this valuable data could pave the way for substituting programmatic direct with header bidding, although there’s always the option of combining header bidding with programmatic direct to benefit from both monetization opportunities.

5. Use the Private Marketplace (PMP) to encourage advertisers to reach a video ad spend threshold

The true value of the PMP is the direct line it facilitates between a buyer and their audience. Ideally publishers connect specific audiences and video inventory to demand partners who value them most. But for all its value, PMPs often don’t reach their full potential: They take a lot of time and effort to manage and can be difficult to scale. When managed correctly PMP can be used as an incentive to encourage advertisers to reach a spend threshold specified for premium video inventory.

6. Consider mixing your programmatic video with your external channel

To maximize the impact of video it pays to consider integrating a programmatic video channel into a broader Omni-channel mix. Take for example the recent strategy adopted by the New York Times. Last month the publisher opened up its inventory to programmatic buyers, but far from making all inventory available through programmatic at all times, advertisers can reserve audience targets in an initial direct-sales deal before opening bidding on a more constrained set. As video header bidding makes it possible for all demand sources, including programmatic direct and private marketplaces to compete side-by-side on the same impression, publishers are able to get a clearer picture of what their video inventory is worth.

7. Align the programmatic video stack with revenue goals

Ideally it would make sense to focus on revenue goals tied to audience data, yet many publishers still perplexed by complex programmatic video technologies, tend to work within the scope of technology limitations. When sporting technology blinkers, publishers risk overlooking new video formats and improved auctioning technologies that could lead to better yield optimization. Rather than unleashing the full potential of data insights leveraged by programmatic video, publishers too often lose out on revenue opportunities. In video, where there is more to gain than display, this oversight can be far more costly.

In sum

The release of more advanced video technology tools and growth in video formats viewed across more mobile devices and offering more valuable insights empowers publishers with more negotiation leverage. The accessibility to more advanced yet user-friendly optimization and media agnostic tools means the time couldn’t be better for publishers to take back inventory control and substantially grow their programmatic video business.