JW Player cofounder Brian Rifkin shares advice for becoming a video-first publisher
Digital video was a $13 billion business in 2017 and is forecasted to grow at a double-digit growth rate for the foreseeable future. And given the rise of next generation digital video platforms like mobile, OTT, and even connected home devices, the growth has no end in sight over the long term.
Video simply can’t be ignored by any publisher. However, success in video is not easy. Most websites/publishers built their original business without video, relying on text and images. These publishers are facing the challenges of integrating video into their strategy. Some of the newer breed of publishers launched as video-first and optimized for social platform distribution. With the fallout of Facebook’s recent algorithm change, they are also facing challenges.
The good news is that both of these challenges are surmountable and when implemented correctly, will create a video website experience that is engaging for consumers and lays the foundation of a sustainable advertising business.
Here are five key recommendations that websites/publishers should focus on for a successful video strategy.
Match your site experience to the user’s expectations.
Experienced and new publishers alike frequently forget that not everyone who arrives on their page will be expecting video content. If you’ve ever x’ed out of a window to avoid an unexpected autoplay video, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
This is why it is crucial to tee up your content in a way that prepares people for video, creating an “intent to watch” experience. Whether the user is arriving from a newsletter, social media, search, or your homepage, you can set this expectation by including a thumbnail image of your video alongside copy with phrases like “watch what happens” or “click here to watch our video review.”
Put money into an effective user acquisition strategy.
When it comes to user acquisition, there’s no such thing as a free lunch anymore. Whether you’re using SEO or social media sites like Facebook, generating organic visits has become an intense competition over a shrinking pool of traffic. If you want to bring high-value video viewers to your site, you’ll need to invest in a paid media budget. Be sure to promote video in these campaigns to ensure you’re driving users to your site with intent to watch.
Regardless of where you spend your money, it’s important to optimize every post for the highest possible ROI. With the right technology, you’ll be able to run multivariate testing on every piece of video content, as well as the copy and thumbnail image you use to promote it.
Master the science of online video.
Video can be a major source of digital ad revenues, but it only works when media brands take the time to master the unique challenges of the format.
Unlike display, it’s unwise to simply load up on as many demand partners as you can find, as doing so will lead to VAST errors that poison the user experience and decrease your overall yields. Instead, it’s best to be disciplined about who you bring in, whittling down your prospective buyers to the ones who deliver the highest CPMs and fill rates.
And while publishers make most of their automated display revenues from the open auction, the programmatic video money is in guaranteed deals and private marketplaces. Since both of these arrangements require publishers to connect with individual demand partners, you’ll need your in-house sales team to build relationships with buyers. If you don’t have an in-house sales team, ask your exchange partners to help you connect.
Last, but not least, it’s crucial to hire skilled ad-tech professionals who can recognize and troubleshoot any technical problems that arise.
Make it fast, really fast.
In video, the easiest way to uncover hidden revenues is to speed up your website. After all, 53% of mobile users will abandon a site if it takes three seconds or more to load.
Whereas display advertising rewards publishers for loading their page with additional banner ads and content recommendations, video publishers must be careful not to distract the user — in essence, less is more. Since video advertising delivers such high yields, the right page configuration will be one that encourages people to go into the video player and watch multiple pieces of content.
Take things one video at a time.
While all of this may sound daunting, it’s important to remember two things: a) there are already publishers who have followed this roadmap to success and b) there’s no reason you can’t take your time finding what works for you and build another page if you need to.
Instead of trying to execute a total pivot to video overnight, it’s best to take things one video at a time, testing and learning as you go. The key is to remain focused on building a video-first content strategy, a speedy, intuitive user experience and an intelligent programmatic stack. If you can do these things, you’ll be well on your way to finding a path that works for you.
Ready to become a video-first publisher? Schedule time to talk with a video expert.