Blog & Insights

To Our Publishers: What Buyers Want in Digital Video


When I was growing up, my sisters and I used to play this ridiculous board game called the Omega Virus. Each of us played as astronauts mired on a dilapidated space station, orbiting above Earth and infected with a software virus we had to eradicate by moving around the board. Many years ago, I tried to sell the 90’s relic, and was dismayed when no one responded to my Craigslist posting. Apparently I wasn’t the only one whose nostalgia had abated.

In this example, I was a pretty lousy seller. I didn’t really care what my buyers wanted, I just wanted to make a quick buck. Thus, I wasn’t very successful.

Perhaps a better approach would have been to ask my buyers what they wanted to buy. I could have checked out the ‘Wanted’ section of the online classified’s service and gutted my garage, looking for a match. At the end of the day, the buyers are the ones with the money.  It’s best to listen to them.

So what are buyers looking for in online video? What can a publisher glean from the proverbial ‘wanted’ section and search their garages for?

At the end of the day, digital video buyers want to reach their audiences at scale in brand safe, engaging environments. This means big players, professionally produced content, and lots of volume.

This is actually pretty good news for publishers outside of the traditional media world. There’s always buzz of ‘premium’ on the buy side. “I need premium content”. “I want ads in front of content I’d see on TV”. So on, so forth.

The truth is, neither of these things matter. At least in terms of the where the majority of the programmatic online video dollars are going. What matters? Lots of views, big players and professionally produced content.

Here’s the vexing part – it’s not that simple.

Unfortunately, many technology layers separate publishers from buyers. Just like a game of telephone, every intermediary presents exposure to losing important information about the placement. If the buyer never knows that you’re professionally produced content is appearing in a large player the person browsing your site actually wants to view (vs. a player stuffed into a 300×250 sidebar with syndicated content of cats chasing laser pointers they never knew existed), they’ll never valuate the placement appropriately.

The solution is to partner with a supply-focused technology vendor that is able to convey this information to programmatic buyers, in real-time, so that you can get the prices you deserve. And they get their audience at scale. Let those dollars flow.

Now, if I could only get rid of that old board game…


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