Video is undergoing a monumental shift. While it retains its premium value, there are now more ways than ever for marketers to reach audiences with video. At last week’s Dmexco trade show in Cologne, it quickly became clear that in the time since last year’s show, vendors had been working away on creating new forms of video inventory.
Video is already responsible for a huge proportion of today’s mobile data usage, and there’s one standout reason why this has skyrocketed: live streaming. Consumers are using live video in all kinds of areas, and the platforms are following.
During the show, sports streamer DAZN announced its intention to open a new office in Amsterdam, a real signal of intent that it aims to be the ‘Netflix of Sport’. Meanwhile, Twitch’s dominance in esports is the envy of many. This year has also witnessed the boom of mobile game HQ Trivia, though at Dmexco the talk was that it must capitalise on its popularity before the excitement trails off.
Naturally the popularity of Facebook Live and Instagram Stories also accounts for a lot of streaming. These social channels have also been rolling out their content platforms, IGTV and Facebook Watch. These platforms have so much investment behind them that they can afford to play with their models for quite some time before they become a success (or failure). European advertisers haven’t yet had the opportunity to play with Facebook Watch, and frustration at the US platforms treating Europe as second fiddle was voiced.
The other streaming goliath, Vice Media, has a lot of premium video content, but the topics it covers – drugs, sex and crime – can be risqué at best. Meanwhile at Dmexco, Pornhub tried to position itself as a legitimate place to advertise.
Marketers will be asking themselves where the opportunity lies in all of this. DAZN, Vice and Twitch all offer a big reach to very specific audiences; they won’t be in the right taste for every brand. Pornhub in particular is an example of why context matters. Sure, your audience might be there, but you don’t want to be. Live streaming is inherently risky, as the content can’t be vetted before its advertised on, and the prevalence of interactive elements put brands at the risk of appearing alongside trolling.
At Dmexco the atmosphere was still very cautious with regards to band safety, and everyone, from advertisers to publishers, was conscious that they only wanted to work with quality content. Advertisers must ask themselves if their brand is the right match for these channels.
But at Dmexco there was another kind of content on show that doesn’t suffer these problems: third-party content that could be widely distributed. Artificial intelligence technology is then available that matches said content to existing pages. This solves the long-established problem that publishers are unable to afford to create their own inventory.
For marketers it creates a new source of ‘in-stream’ video inventory: pre-roll on contextually matched content. Since the content is high-quality and well-placed, adverts are much more likely to be viewed. Of course, it’s still important that advertisers ensure that the sites they’re buying on are high-quality. This means working with trusted partners, and creating white- and blacklists of sites.
Plenty of tools were on display in the halls of Köln Messe that facilitated the easy creation of video. The danger here is that the value of video content is reduced as it becomes associated with basic pasted-together ‘text-plus-image’ films (which hardly count as video), or poor quality film-making. This is already an issue for the many user-generated and social-scraping content providers that were lining the halls too.
Native ad units and clickbait platforms were visible at the show, with new video offerings of their own. Next to them sat the ‘outstream’ video advertising platforms, whose inventory appears within text articles so it doesn’t need to run on video content. Each of these remain popular despite their seeming irreverence for user experience. The technologies that will flourish over the next year will have a strong emphasis on great experience first, and monetisation second.
Further afield, areas like in-transit media, and digital out-of-home are all undergoing video and programmatic revolutions of their own. Moving images are colonising more and more areas, meaning ensuring premium placements becomes more and more important, as the pool widens.
The final word goes to the connected TV sector, an area now carving out its own niche. The nuances and promise of CTV are many, and space here doesn’t allow a deep enough investigation of this sector. Supply-side platforms are setting out their stall; some focusing heavily on this maturing area, others steering well clear. In the year to come we’ll see further divergence between the online video conversations and the CTV industry.
For marketers there has never been a better time to create and distribute video. But it has also never been so complicated to reach audiences. Looking forward, we can expect some consolidation of vendors, and opportunities outside of the ‘walled gardens’ will only grow. Those buying video space must consider context – in both the safety of their brands, as well as the user experience they are buying into.
Kai Henniges is CEO and co-founder of Video Intelligence.