Advertisers are paying big bucks for branded video ads these days. In just the US alone, the number of digital video viewers is expected to grow by 17.4 million between 2017 and 2021, and digital video ad spending will follow suit by increasing 21% over the next two years. The immense budgets that have been allocated to video advertising are certainly justifiable, as digital video continues to be the best way for brands to reach and engage with their audiences – that is, of course, if it actually gets seen.
Viewability measurements were first introduced to the industry in 2010, when advertisers really started to invest in digital ads, but noticed their efforts going unnoticed by audiences. Several adtech companies began offering viewable impressions, and the IAB introduced viewability standards for publishers to adhere to. However, it wasn’t until last year – when video ad investments were at an all time high, but video view measurements were still disturbingly subjective (a fact that Facebook’s video view controversy helped bring to light) – that viewability truly started receiving the attention it deserved. Viewability became the #1 video campaign objective in Q2 2016, up 31% from Q2 2015, and ad giants like GroupM put “100 percent viewable” requirements into effect to make sure their videos were being seen. The IAB also established three main measurement indicators specific to video ads, to count an ad impression as viewable:
More than 50% of the pixels in the ad or the video player must be visible on a user’s screen
The browser tab on which the video ad is being served must be active
The video ad has to comply with the above indicators for at least 2 seconds
While the industry’s emphasis on viewability may have been kickstarted by advertisers, the recent initiatives have been beneficial for everyone involved. With improved user experience at the heart of the IAB viewability guidelines, audiences are seeing ads that are less intrusive, within content that is more valuable, on pages that are loaded quicker. For publishers that have started addressing viewability at scale, opportunities for revenue have never been more plentiful, as advertisers are willing to pay more for video inventory when viewability is guaranteed.
Publishers must do their part to ensure their videos are as viewable as possible – to provide, in IAB terms, the Opportunity To See (OTS). A study from YouTube recommends that publishers strive for a 54% viewability rating just to meet the online average. To reach this goal, publishers must adhere to the following best practices for video viewability:
Place video players above-the-fold within high traffic article pages
The number one way to improve viewability? Make your video players the first thing users see on their screen once an article page loads. While this above-the-fold practice should ideally be implemented above each and every article page, we tend to recommend to our publishers that videos should be placed above at least 20% of their top trending articles (read: the articles that are generating the most traffic). We tested one of our publishing partner’s pages before and after they moved their player above-the-fold, and saw their CPMs increase by 25%, and their Ad Opportunities fill rate increase by 20%.
Install a floating video player for a continuous viewing experience
Floating players like the Wibbitz Widget are great ways to embrace user multitasking and browsing while still ensuring that your content will be seen. By “floating” to the bottom corner once the player is no longer in view, and staying put as the user scrolls up and down the page, these types of players don’t take up any existing site real estate and ensure a seamless user experience.
Create engaging and relevant video content - and lots of it
The more audiences love your video content, the more they’ll be willing to sit through ads to get to it. And the more high-quality videos you publish that, on one hand, bring value to the user in the context of the article and, on the other hand, provide a seamless and native experience, the more valuable your website will be to advertisers in terms of both CPMs and fill – and the more video ad inventory you’ll have to offer them.
Optimize videos for mobile
What’s the future of the industry look like? Mobile video. Zenith expects 60% of global ad dollars to be attributed to mobile by 2018, as the benefits of mobile advertising continue to prove worthy. According to a study on viewability conducted by Google, 83% of mobile video ad impressions were viewable, compared to 53% for video ads on desktop. This number will only increase as more mobile ads are formatted in the way that smartphones are designed to be held… vertically. Several social platforms are starting to embrace mobile-centric vertical video ads, and platforms like Wibbitz are already helping publishers create vertical video inventory at scale. As mobile video continues to dominate, publishers need to make sure their videos fit the formats are optimized for viewability and engagement on each and every platform.