• Video UX vs. Ad Revenue: Why It Doesn’t Have to be Either/Or

    As CPMs continue to fall and cookies sunset, digital publishers are under more pressure to monetize content. This can put sales, product, and editorial teams at odds, especially when it comes to video content, particularly on mobile, where two-thirds of all video is displayed. But are these teams really after different things?

    Reframing the problem
    The fact is that a great video experience equates to more engagement and impressions — meaning more ad revenue. Publishers need to use UX as a tool to generate high engagement and long, binge-y viewing sessions that advertisers want.

    Beyond load times, publishers should explore finding more user-friendly ways to achieve viewability and ad relevance. A great place to start is with the three Ps: player, personalization, and placement.

    Optimize the video player
    Your video player is the low-hanging fruit. Placement, size, design, and responsiveness all matter, as does the ability to load fast across standard mobile, broadband Wi-Fi, and 5G networks. And while larger, above-the-fold players elevate engagement and CPMs, audiences also respond to a seamless native look that integrates with your site.

    How your player operates can encourage audiences to linger. Carousel players with built-in navigation give the user choice and control (UX!), and they help turn a single video impression into a serial viewing experience ($$!). Similarly, adhesive players keep videos in view as visitors scroll without interfering with content.

    Personalize with first-party data
    Never underestimate the power of personalization. A relevant and engaging UX not only translates into higher CPMs and inventory value but also builds credibility and trust with your audience. You want video content to be meaningful to the visitor, and you want to avoid irritants like surfacing subscription ads to your longtime subscribers.

    Without cookies, contextual and behavioral targeting can help personalize your video content, but for a truly customized and segmented experience, there’s no substitute for your own first-party data. There’s also a right way to capture it.

    First, ask questions. Be transparent and query your audiences about what type of content they prefer to see. Use that data to improve segmentation and personalization, and you create a better UX. That positive experience earns more credibility capital with which to gather data from your audience. Repeat as needed.

    Achieve viewability the right way
    The video viewability metric has had a tough time. Years of bad actors gaming the system wasted billions for advertisers. And consumer backlash against intrusive ads was swift. Advertisers and audiences now demand better, and publishers can provide it by taking a more balanced approach to viewability.  

    Rather than running floating units that can block content, consider native-looking players that stay in view at the top or bottom of the screen so they are non-intrusive. They can function like sticky ads without standing out as ads.

    Finessing viewability in this way not only reduces negative interaction rates, it also drives higher engagement and resulting RPMs. Win for UX, win for sales.

    Another user-friendly concept to consider is the combination ad — pairing a video ad with a personalized recirculation component. Ad viewability remains intact while you offer audiences relevant content that encourages them to keep consuming.

    Dwell = dollars
    No one wants to frustrate loyal audiences or deflect fly-by visitors with intrusive ads, sluggish load times, or one-size-fits-all content. What everyone does want is for people to spend more time enjoying the video player. When all teams see that as their common goal, innovation can flourish. You’ll find better ways to gather and apply your data, discover balanced approaches to viewability, and create a value exchange with audiences that everyone can get behind.

    (photo credit: Caroline Sinno Photography)