Managing Online Video Ad Sales

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So, you're in the online video business. Congratulations. You've now entered the hottest and most exciting business there is in all of media. While television has served as the place to be in the media industry, online video is fast becoming the cat’s meow and advertising buyers will be the first ones to tell you that. So then how do you make your break? How do you start generating critical revenue to support your growing business and pay for the video infrastructure and content you’ve now made an investment in? Four steps stand before you and none of them will break the bank. Here they are…

Hiring an Ad-Serving Company.

This is an important first step for two reasons. First of all, your site will have to conform to specifications that advertisers can plan and buy on. For instance, if your video player doesn’t have the capabilities to be tracked by a third-party audit firm or have the capacity to run creative the advertiser has produced, advertisers will not support you.

Companies such as Doubleclick, Atlas or VINDICO (Full disclosure: This is a Broadband Enterprises’ product) ad-serve and track online video for all sites. For advertisers, these companies provide a third-party audit so they don’t have to rely on each site’s individual numbers. Also, these ad-serving companies provide some standards around creative size, weight and digital format of creative so that the advertisers don’t have to produce so many different files. If you’re lucky, your ad-serving company will also solve the second step: network representation.

Put in Place an Ad Network

Hiring an ad network will be the fastest way to get ads into your system. Companies such as Broadband Enterprises, Tremor Network and ROO are online video ad networks and provide a national and even international sales footprint as you get your video site up and running. An important note on ad networks is how they work with an existing sales force or a soon-to-be emerging one.

Make sure the ad network accepts blacklists. If there is a list of advertisers they should keep away from, a blacklist insures that those advertisers will remain protected. Also, an ad network can always provide a flow of advertising when remnant inventory exists. It is valuable to always have some revenue to meet either unsold inventory or cover times when high volumes of video are produced unexpectedly.

Hiring Salespeople

Some sites will go without hiring internal resources and that is fine. It is a recommended step by this author to at least have one person that can manage the network representative as well as cultivate some key direct relationships with advertisers. Every site will have some endemic advertisers that are particularly suited to the site’s audience. It is these advertisers that should have some access to someone at the site when special programs, sponsorships or integrated opportunities make sense.

For sites with grander ambitions of scaling out a national or even international salesforce, the ad network needs to be tightly managed to protect territory of the internal sales team. It may become necessary, in fact, to completely do away with the ad network when the sales team becomes fully functional and efficient in managing all advertiser relationships.

A fully developed sales force is an expensive proposition and any site should recognize the premium on experienced salespeople. This is why it is the recommendation of this author to marry the efforts of an internal sales capability with the efficiency of an ad network partner.

Deploying Video Ad-Selling Technology

Once the first three steps are complete, it will become important to enhance your site’s targeting capabilities. Advertisers are becoming increasingly savvy on this emerging medium and looking for solutions that help them more precisely target their audience. For instance, contextual targeting is becoming a sought-after technology.

Contextual targeting allows an advertiser to target video based upon keywords. Procter & Gamble’s Crest toothpaste may want to specifically target “oral hygiene” as a keyword and thereby run only on video relating to “oral hygiene.” This technology exists today and will become increasingly important as the marketplace for online video develops in the coming years.

So the four steps necessary toward generating sales in online video are ad-serving, ad network selling, hiring and technology. Done efficiently, these steps will get you where you want to go.

A pioneer in the broadband advertising industry, Matthew Wasserlauf formed Broadband Enterprises in April, 2004 and serves as its CEO.
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