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In-article video ads are the shiny new thing... But are they worth the investment?

In-article video ads are the shiny new thing... But are they worth the investment?

December 28, 2016

The world of online advertising is a diverse one with countless mediums, publishers, formatting, and tracking options. Accordingly, it’s tough to discern which “latest and greatest” advertising methods are worth the investment and which ones are over-hyped. In-article video ads, which play automatically in the middle of a consumer-facing article, are one option generating significant interest from publishers and advertisers alike, but how many people can these advertisements really reach? Do they truly deserve the increased attention they’re getting?

The In-Article Concept

The concept of in-article advertising is simple and quite clear from the name alone. Publishers offer advertising space in the body of an existing article, playing the video automatically when the user scrolls past it. Different publishers offer different formatting here, but as a general rule, users need to opt-in to hear the sound, and the video will pause if a user scrolls past the video (or the video may follow the user in some cases). Impressions generally count based on what percentage of pixels in the video are viewable for a designated period of time.

There are a number of pros and cons to this strategy:

  • Existing within an article demands user attention more than banner ads or similarly “hidden” forms of advertising.
  • There’s enormous flexibility for article types, target audience considerations, and the content of your video messaging.
  • Impressions may count even if users are ignoring your video to read the rest of the article.
  • Auto-playing videos tend to generate 5 to 6 percent higher engagement rates than non-auto-playing videos.
  • Different brands may benefit more or less from this method, depending on their target audience, budget, and intended messaging.

A number of major publishers are already offering in-article advertisements through their own platforms. For example, Facebook recently debuted in-stream and in-article video advertising through its platform. Videos play automatically when half the pixels are available and are specifically targeted to “Instant Articles,” which load faster on mobile devices. Slate and Reuters have offered in-article video advertising for the past two years, embedding videos in their popular articles to earn more impressions. These video ad opportunities cost around $20 per thousand impressions, and many other premium publishers have also opted to include this form of advertising onsite.

Video ad budgets and potential market

Video advertising is becoming the new baseline for online advertisers, as video ads—especially those that automatically play—generate higher engagement rates and more user satisfaction. As a result, advertisers are spending more on video ads, and that trend is projected to continue; spending on video ads is anticipated to nearly triple, from $9.9 billion in 2016 to over $28 billion by 2020. It’s expected to outpace growth in social media advertising, and mobile video will earn the lion’s share of that increased spend. This makes any form of video advertising, like in-article videos, prime real estate for the next several years.

The potential market for in-article video ads is enormous; as long as people continue consuming content, through social media and major publication sites, there will be ample opportunities to earn meaningful impressions. Viewability is still a major concern for advertisers, and methods with high and trackable viewability—like in-article advertising—will likely see a boost as advertisers move away from more traditional video mediums like TV ads.

To make things even more attractive, in-article advertising can become even more efficient as new technologies develop and become refined; for example, programmatic advertising, which greatly increases overall returns and optimizes ad serving, can enhance in-article advertising’s effectiveness even further. Faster internet speeds and even further reliance on mobile devices could also drive trends to increase the effectiveness and demand for in-article advertising over the next several years.

In conclusion...

There are pros and cons to in-article video advertising, and even conceptually, it’s easy to understand how this method is a way to squeeze more advertising into small and finite publishing spaces. However, consumer demand for content shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, and the diversity of choices available to advertisers makes in-article ads a reasonable choice for a variety of brands. If you do your research in advance and specifically target your medium and message to an appropriate content audience, you should join the millions of advertisements already in circulation—even if it’s just a test run for the strategy.

If you’re interested in getting more out of your video advertisements, be sure to get started with VertaMedia; we have the technology you need to earn more for every advertisement you place.

(As published on The Drum)