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Video Ads for Publishers

Video Ads for Publishers – A Beginner’s Guide

When the digital advertising era first dawned, most publishers started out monetizing their remnant space on the websites by serving image ads, text ads or link ads. Little by little, the publishers became more digitally savvy. And as their monetization efforts evolved with time, so did the digital advertising methods, formats, and technologies. 

Today, publishers can display a wide variety of ad formats from traditional banners to rich media to video ads on their websites. Because now, people don’t just want the content to read, they prefer content to be in the form of video. 

In 2020, 59.4% of total internet users are consuming video content, and the percentage share of video content is going to grow in the future. Due to the higher engagement rate of videos, it has become a new format of choice for publishers and advertisers.

eMarketer says, 

“US advertisers will spend more than 34 billion dollars on video advertising this year.”

So, to help you get started with video advertising, we have collected all the relevant information and articles so that you can get answers to all the questions in one place.

Here’s What You’ll Learn in this Guide:

What are Video Ads?

A video ad is a digital ad that typically contains video, including in-text and in-banner ads. A publisher can display video ads either inside the video content or outside the video content. When a user views the video content and clicks on such video ads, they are taken to the corresponding landing page of the advertiser. 

Today, a majority of video ads are sold by programmatic means and a lesser volume of video ads are directly sold. Let’s have a quick overview of both:

Direct-sold video ads: As the name suggests, these ads are sold to the direct advertisers on the basis of inventory volume, CPM rates, and duration of ad campaigns. Direct-sold video ads require human efforts in terms of satisfying the advertiser’s needs and the process of advertising is completely manual.

Programmatic video ads: Programmatic video ads are sold with the help of automated technologies to direct advertisers and third-party advertisers. In contrast to traditional direct-sold ads, programmatic video ads require less manual work and offer several benefits such as advanced targeting options, and so on. Here’s a guide on programmatic video that you will find useful.

Types of Video Ad Formats

Before you start with video advertising, you first need to determine the format of video ad you want to have. Check out the three video ad formats categorized by IAB below:

Linear Video Ads: Linear video ads are the ad formats that can be sandwiched between the organic video content much similar to the TV commercial ads. 

It can be further divided into three subcategories: Pre-roll ads, mid-roll ads, and post-roll ads. A pre-roll ad is played before the organic video content is displayed, while a post-roll ad is played as soon as the video content ends.

Non-linear Video Ads: Non-linear video ads aren’t actually video ads. They are typically images that overlay the video content. Such types of ads can concurrently run with the video content so the users can view the ads’ content as well as video content at the same time.

Non-linear video ads can be served as static image ads, interactive rich-media ads, and more.

video ads types

Companion Video Ads: Companion video ads can be served along with linear video ads and non-linear video ads. Companion ads can come in a number of different ad sizes and shapes and they typically run alongside the video player. However, a companion video ad cannot be served alone and it must have a master video ad (i.e. linear video or non-linear video).

example of digital video ad and content

Types of Video Ad Units

This section will walk you through different types of video ad units defined by IAB. In general, video ad units are categorized into two types:

In-stream video ad unit: In-stream video ads are played before, during, and after the video content. Such video ad units are used by the publishers to monetize their video content and can be played inside short-form and long-form video. In general, in-stream video ad units are used in three types of video content:

  • News content,
  • Syndicated or distributed content, and
  • User-generated content. 

Out-stream video ad unit: Out-stream video ad units enable the publisher to display video ads outside of the video content. This is the key difference between in-stream and out-stream video ads that the latter can leverage the standard display ad units to deliver video experience.

Moving forward, out-stream video ads can be divided into four categories:

In-article video ads: Such ads are loaded between the paragraphs of editorial content and can be dynamically loaded when the users scroll through the page.

Native video ads: These are the promoted video ads that can be of various types – in-feed unit, paid search, promoted listing, recommendation widget, or custom. Native video ads consist of a headline, description, and context for the ads.

Interstitial video ads: Such ads are generally used by app publishers and appear when the user clicks on the app. Interstitial ads cover the entire screen of the user’s device. Head towards this article to read more about interstitial ads.

interstitial video adsImage Source – Thinkwithgoogle

In-banner video ads: In-banner video ads are video ads within a banner that leverages the size of the banner. It has lesser demand than other out-stream ad formats and publishers aren’t recommended to use it. We have a detailed guide on in-banner video ad units to help you understand the reasons behind it.

IAB video ad unit types

Image Source – Marketingland

Overview of Video Advertising Technologies

Now that you know different types of video ad formats and units, the next step is to understand how video advertising happens. But before that, you should know the technologies involved in the video advertising.

Video Ad Networks: After deciding the video ad format and video ad unit, the second step is to find the advertisers who are looking for video inventories. And this is where video ad networks make their entry. A key function of video ad networks is to bring video demand for the publisher’s video ad inventories.

Since you may not get direct advertisers every day throughout the year, video ad networks can resolve this by getting you demand. Besides, they can also help in setting-up ad campaigns, optimizing the video ads, and more. Find the list of best video ad networks here.

Video Ad Server: The video ad server is used by the publishers to help with video ad serving, video ad management, campaign management, ad trafficking, reporting, and more. Publishers can use a first-party (proprietary) video ad server or a third-party ad server.

Video Player: A video player is one of the most important technologies involved in video advertising. It is the interface that helps in creating a path for communication between the video content and user. Not only this, but a video player also has the ability to pass users’ data, store engagement data, and coordinate with the page to display companion ads.

A publisher can build a video player from scratch or can get a third-party player from companies such as BrightCove, JW Player, and so on. We have got a list of best third-party video players available in the market.

Note: A video ad network may provide a video player. So, if your network offers the player, you don’t need to integrate a different player.

Video Tags: In video ads, there are two types of ad tags: VAST (Video Ad Serving Template) and VPAID (Video Player Ad Interface Definition). Both are the protocols that act as a bridge between the video player and video ad units and instruct the ads on how to get played inside the player. Video tags are generated in the ad server that supports these protocols and Google Ad Manager is one of such servers. Additionally, a video network can help you to set-up the tags for the inventories. 

How Does Video Advertising Work?

The video ad serving works the same as display ad serving where an ad creative is served by an ad server. The only difference is the involvement of a video player in the process. Below is the basic workflow of video ad serving:

  1. When a user visits a website with a video player, the player sends the request to the publisher’s web server to retrieve the video content.
  2. The server responds back with a code that instructs the web browser from where to get the main video content and how to display the content in the player.
  3. After the main video content is fetched, the video player again sends a request to retrieve the video ad’s content and this is where VAST and other protocols come in. With the help of this request, the publisher’s ad server identifies which video ad has to be displayed.
  4. Once the identification is done, the ad server returns the chosen video ad’s markup. When the ad markup loads in the video player, it sends a request to the advertiser’s ad server to retrieve the video ad.
  5. Now, the advertiser responds back with a URL that will direct the users to the video ad’s location. Usually, the video ad is hosted on a Content Discovery Network.
  6. Then, the video player sends the last request to the Content Discovery Network which further returns the video file and finally, the video ad gets served to the users.

The process of video advertising might look a bit complicated. But from a publishers’ side, all you need to do is set-up an ad server and pass the ad tags to the player. And when you deal with the programmatic video ads, most of the things will be taken care of by your ad tech partner.

Benefits of Video Ads for Publishers

Video advertising can be a gold mine for publishers to reach and engage audiences, and increase the ad revenue. Publishers are seeing video advertising as an opportunity because:

Users love video. 

As internet usage has increased, consumers are quickly moving towards digital video. According to eMarketer, the APAC region alone will have 1642 million video viewers by the end of 2021. 

Digital video viewership 2020

Since the users can switch from one channel to another such as connected to OTTs or social media apps to OTTs, publishers can diversify their revenue streams over multiple channels.

Advertisers love videos even more. 

Advertisers shift their attention to where their audiences are. Since the videos are gaining traction, advertisers are spending on video ads more than ever before. It is expected that US advertisers will spend $54 billion on video ads by 2022.

Video ad spending 2020

Source – eMarketer

Video ads get higher engagement rates. 

Video ads have tightly framed subjects, memorable and interactive visual elements. For this reason, video ads get higher engagement rates than display ads, and this yields higher purchase intent and favorability for advertisers. 

video ads engagement rate

Video ads boost CPM rates. 

Due to the higher engagement rates and scarcity of video content, video ads usually have higher click-through rates than any other ad format. That means higher CPMs and thus, more ad revenue.

average CTRs of video ads

How to Setup Video Ads in Google Ad Manager?

Setting up and delivering video ads requires an ad server, video ad networks, and a video player. As the majority of publishers are using Google Ad Manager, let’s understand the implementation of video ads using GAM.

Step #1:

Decide the type of video ad format and ad unit you want to have. If you are trying to serve in-stream video ads, then partner with a video player. Also, select the right video ad networks so that you can leverage the benefits.

Step #2:

As soon as you are done with the ad-tech partners, go to Google Ad Manager and set-up the video ad line items. Create the ad units according to the format you wish to have, and generate a video ad tag.

Step #3:

Now, pass this video ad tag to your video player so that they can display the right ads from the demand partners. And you’re ready to start serving video ads.

We have a comprehensive guide on the video set-up in Google Ad Manager. Go through it if you have any doubt/question. Wondering if the set-up varies with the type of video ad units? Well, it does change, but you don’t have to worry about it. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with the same.

How to Get Most out of Video Ads?

Video advertising can be an extremely effective method to monetize your video content. But you need to optimize your video ad content as well as video content to drive the results that matter most to your business. So, we have outlined some important tips that you should consider when optimizing your video ads:

1. Lengthy video contents lose attention. 

Video content that takes a long time to deliver the value loses the users’ attention. They are abandoned before the users’ get a chance to know the benefits. Due to this, short-form content is trending amongst the users and publishers. So, grab users’ attention early.

length of video content

You might be thinking if the video content length affects the performance of video ads. Well, it does. In fact, the impact of the length of video content varies from format to format. Below is the result of a study done by IAB:

engagement rate of video ad formats

Image Source – Neilson/IAB

2. Optimal video ad length.

Short-form video content is preferred. But does that mean short-form video ad content will also be preferred? Ideally, 30 seconds long video ads have the highest view-through rates. 

view through rates across different ad length

Besides, the impact of video ad length also depends on which platform you are advertising.

3. Include relevance in your ads.

Just the optimal length of video ads and video content is not enough. Making your ads relevant is equally important to encourage the users to pay attention to your ads. So, make sure your ads are relevant.

Relevancy of video ads can be increased by demographics-based targeting and intent-based targeting. However, with the growing number of privacy laws and a cookie-less future, context-based targeting is the best.

relevancy in video ads

4. Make sure the auto-play video ads on the website are muted.

Users hate auto-play video ads with sound and without their initiation. It leads the users to add ad blockers, and in the worst case, they might stop coming to your website. So, make sure that the auto-play video ads are muted and have ON/OFF buttons on the ad.

“Your videos should communicate your message even without audio. Don’t rely on voice overs or dialog to relay key information. Use captions and graphic overlays to make sure your message gets across with sound on or off.”

– Facebook (Src

5. Try vertical ads.

Speaking of video ads, aspect ratio matters as much as the ad format. So, try vertical ads. Vertical ads play in portrait orientation than the landscape orientation. There are multiple advantages of displaying vertical ads such as ads fill the screen, gain high-level users’ attention, etc.

Vertical Ads

6. Increase ad viewability.

Increasing the ad viewability means increasing the opportunity to get your video ads viewed. So, make sure that your ads are meeting the criteria defined by IAB and MRC. When it’s about video ad viewability, you can improve the metric by providing premium user experience, optimizing ad placement, and video player.

Pro Tip: Do not serve the same pre-roll video ad multiple times during a video content series, and do not reuse video spots without considering the video player screen aspect.

Looking for more tips and strategies to optimize video ads? Read this article to find everything you need.

What’s Next?

Video ads are visually attractive and appealing. And they have the tendency to help you connect better with your audience. Although video ads have long been used by publishers, there are a handful of publishers that are still struggling with video monetization models. So, if you are also waiting for the right time to start with video advertising, it is now! Let us help you to include video ads in your monetization strategy.