Rendezvous with Industry Leaders – Lauren Fisher

Shares a publishers’ perspective on what’s next for programmatic video trends, what role will brand safety play in the mid-sized publishers programmatic landscape, as well as what are the key factors a publisher needs to take into account when deciding how to utilize video ads.

As the fastest growing sector of video advertising, what are the main trends you’re seeing in programmatic video?

For programmatic video buyers, the real draw has been the ability to pair richer audience insights with their ad buys. With so much digital video consumption happening in a fragmented, cross-screen manner, taking a more audience-centric approach becomes critical for any advertiser wanting to reach the right audiences and understand the frequency with which they’re doing so.

Programmatic has been key to helping buyers and sellers pair data sets and audience insights with the inventory they want, and it will continue to be the primary mechanism through which they pull together cross-screen campaigns.

There is also significant interest and momentum behind newer types of digital video, such as outstream. For publishers, outstream has become a viable means of offering video ad inventory for non-video content. Many of the social sites have gravitated toward this with in-feed; many publishers are also looking to incorporate outstream video in a more native manner.

As more of that inventory gets added—and gets added programmatically—advertisers are grabbing onto it. And it’s not just the brands: Performance marketers are putting dollars here as well.

As brand safety continues to be a challenge, how can ad buyers and sellers gain more control over their programmatic efforts?

There’s a push among both buyers and sellers toward more private, direct-type setups within programmatic, and some of the brand safety issues that have made headlines have certainly accelerated this push. Some of these negotiations might still be a bit more personal vs. programmatic in terms of structuring the deals, but the fulfillment is still very much programmatic.

For buyers, having a more direct, one-to-one relationship with a publisher or seller makes for greater trust and comfort in knowing their ads are going to the right places. And if there’s a problem, they know there’s someone on the other end that can make things right.

Publishers also worry about brand safety, and having those more direct relationships also affords them greater control over which advertisers and which ad content makes it onto their sites.

We’ve also seen an uptick in buyers looking more closely at ad verification services and brand safety practices like whitelisting.

Ultimately, it needs to come down to a blend of technology and trusted partnerships. There’s never going to be a silver bullet to prevent brand safety concerns, and so the best buyers and sellers can do is to invest in the solutions that fit their needs and cultivate the relationships that are right for their business.

What are some key ways video has benefited from programmatic advancements?

Richer audience data as well as improved targeting and measurement capabilities are all byproducts of programmatic advertising. The potential for more personalized, relevant advertising via programmatic creative is also high, though it continues to be early days for advertisers leveraging this technology.

All of these will prove critical as we move into a more diversified, cross-screen world: Programmatic will be key to brands engaging with video viewers in the most coordinated, relevant fashion (and to measuring the effects of that engagement).

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing mid-sized publishers today?

Mid-sized publishers are feeling the squeeze from every direction, it seems. They’re vying for the remnants of ad budgets that aren’t getting sucked up by Facebook and Google. They’re fighting through issues like fraud, viewability, ad blocking and brand safety that are affecting everyone in the ecosystem. And to keep monetization levels up, they’re constantly wading through a sea of options ranging from header bidding to native advertising to outstream video.

All of this is happening while publishers are increasingly living in a world that wants more scaled audience insights. So it’s hard to say that there is just one or even a few big challenges facing midsized publishers—each of these is a legitimate concern that cannot be addressed in isolation.

What factors go into a publisher’s decision to utilize video ads? What are the benefits and drawbacks?

For publishers with non-video content, outstream video is a serious consideration for maintaining higher CPMs and continuing to try and innovate beyond standard, static banners. Obviously, the potential to net a new crop of advertisers and command higher prices is a serious draw. The challenge, though, is finding a way to incorporate it while still maintaining or improving the user experience.

We’ve seen research that supports both sides in terms of outstream improving—and harming—the user experience. For publishers, it really needs to be a test-and-learn process. They need to take time to consider the types of video that would make sense for their content and their audiences, as well as the specific partners or solutions providers they might choose to implement it.


Lauren Fisher, Principal Analyst at eMarketer 

Lauren focuses on digital advertising technology, measurement and B2B with past B2B marketing and product management experience.