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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Thinking differently about outstream video ads

July 10, 2018 | By Dennis Yuscavitch, VP of Product Marketing—Outbrain @dennisy

Assaulted by a sudden rush of sound while surfing the web, you probably have found yourself asking “where is that audio coming from?!?” We’ve all been there, frantically searching for the video ad that auto-played with sound. This negative video experience has become so problematic that leading browsers now stop video that auto-plays sound. Without a doubt, this should have us all asking how can publishers gain the revenue benefit of video without annoying readers?

Marketers enjoy video because it creates a deeper connection with the audience. And publishers are willing to push the boundaries of an acceptable video experience in the name of improved RPMs. That said, there are three things publishers can do to take advantage of these improved connection and revenue opportunities while creating a healthy and friendly user experience:

Personalization is Relevancy

Video ad content must be personalized for the reader. The over-abundance of video demand shouldn’t be a license for inundating the reader with whatever demand meets the viewability (vCPM) completion rate goals. Make video ad content relevant and users will engage and stay through completion.

Video signals are important

The experience must be customized based on reader habits. If the reader has shown a propensity to engage with video, make the video experience more prominent with more entry points to accommodate their preference. Gather signals like time of day, device, and user’s preference to consumer short and long-form ad content to help tune their session.

Interruption is non-starter

Allow video ad content to become ‘native video’ and non-interruptive. On mobile this works best by emulating a feed experience through inline play. Alternatively, by placing it at the end of an article in non-feed formats, you can show at the exact moment the reader is deciding what content to consume next.

These strategies are required for a successful and user-friendly auto-play video experience. However, there’s another powerful alternative: enabling click-to-play outstream video ads. Publishers can put the control back in the hands of reader while proving to marketers that lean-in, long-form video ad content and immersive storytelling experience they’ve been looking for.

Outbrain’s Click-to-Play solution, which we launched earlier this year, has averaged view times of 37 seconds, 49% completion rates, and 10% conversion rates for 60 second videos. This proves that amazing engagement stats can be achieved while giving full control to the viewer.

Lots of value can be extracted from auto-play video ads for both publishers and marketers. But we need to think differently and invest in the right mix of video experiences. If we do, we’ll all be able to forge a relationship with our readers that keeps them coming back.

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