With steady increases in consumer streaming hours, creating engaging video content that excites and delights users and doesn’t interrupt their experience is paramount.
The more personalized and relevant to the end-user, the more time spent on site — leading to better performance and even higher yield for publishers. With advances in AI-based content paired with header bidding mechanisms, publishers can offer their audiences the right ads at the right time in a highly engaging and seamless experience that will bring in greater returns.
To learn whether when the concept of right ads, right time, right person — whent it comes to video — is just pie in the sky thinking, I recently caught up with Johanna Bergqvist, VP of Strategic Partnerships, Ex.co, to recap some of what we talked about at Ops 2021 on our panel Experience Comes First: Why Capitalizing on User Experience Is Key to a Sustainable Video & Revenue Growth Strategy with Amanda Gomez, VP, Revenue Operations, New York Post and Ryan Simone, Senior Director, Global Audience Insights, Vice Media.
Lynne d Johnson: What are some actions publishers should take to ensure that video ad units on their site won’t compromise the user experience? Is there a risk for publishers who are pursuing viewability for their partners?
Johanna Bergqvist: There are definitely actions that publishers can take to make sure a video player will not compromise the user experience. Having an ultralight video player to speed up loading times is crucial as well as placement on the page but there are many more factors that impact UX beyond the player technology itself.
Today’s audiences want (and expect) to have a personalized experience when visiting a website. The person sitting to my left may have different interests than myself and depending on what we each see on the page, we will be more – or less – willing to stay on site, click around to other pages, and even subscribe to a newsletter.
At EX.CO, we are always thinking about the user experience and how we can best help publishers grow.
Viewability has always been incredibly important for advertisers and to maximize yield. However, in the last year, we’ve seen buyers become more strict with achieving 70% viewability across their campaigns and spend. For video, the best way to achieve this metric and unlock premium demand is to adopt an adhesion unit. However, there is some tension between UX and achieving ad viewability when it comes to video.
We've found that the best approach to maximizing ad viewability as part of your video strategy is to adopt an adhesion unit; however, these can sometimes be viewed as intrusive to the user and product.
We’ve found that the best approach to maximizing ad viewability as part of your video strategy is to adopt an adhesion unit; however, these can sometimes be viewed as intrusive to the user and product. At EX.CO, we have therefore developed a native and truly customizable top sticky unit that has proven to reduce negative interaction rates by 16% and drive RPMs up to 20% higher, on average. The product looks completely native to the publisher’s site and does not interfere with UX.
LdJ: What are some of the engagement drivers to reach the sweet spot of great video content, great user experience, and highly engaged users?
JB: It’s important to first take a step back and look at the entire user experience for your digital property. From there, you can identify the touchpoints that you have with your audience and determine the most efficient and seamless ways to push them down the funnel.
Interact with your audience, ask them questions, get to really know your website visitors. Then use that information to create an appropriate value exchange. According to a recent report by Accenture, 83% of respondents said they are willing to give away personal information in exchange for offers and content. Video is inherently engaging so leveraging it as a means to enhance audience engagement rather than looking at it as an Achilles’ heel is key.
LdJ: How can first-party and contextual data be better leveraged and optimized by publishers to create better user experiences?
JB: This is a great question because many publishers are sitting on first- or third-party data but are not sure how to necessarily put this data into action, or how to effectively capture it. The more you learn about your audience, the more you can personalize the user experience.
Introducing interactivity on a site can help publishers collect valuable data about their audience which they can then use to surface a relevant piece of content, and personalize what page that user lands on when they return to the site next time. Of course, all of this leads to more engagement and ultimately, more revenue.
LdJ: Are there any benefits to using contextual vs. behavioral targeting to ensure that the right ads are finding the right people at the right time?
JB: With the cookie disappearing, contextual and behavioral targeting are top of mind for both publishers and advertisers. There are pros and cons for each of these strategies.
Contextual targeting can be very effective for publishers where the vertical naturally lends itself to certain types of advertisers, however, this type of approach can sometimes limit reach for advertisers. It really depends on the vertical, and whether or not the advertiser is endemic or non-endemic.
Contextual becomes hard when you are trying to target a very specific audience because it will limit your reach.
Contextual becomes hard when you are trying to target a very specific audience because it will limit your reach. For example, if you are an expensive hotel brand, advertising on a high-end news site may not make sense contextually, however, that audience has a high net worth and therefore, money to spend so it’s actually the perfect fit.
This is where having first-party data can complement your targeting strategies immensely, and you can easily run an interactive poll or survey to collect even more data about your audience which will help inform future campaigns you may run.
This is also where behavioral targeting becomes more effective because you can look at a user’s general browser history. In both types of targeting, data becomes extremely important because you can cater the entire experience around each user. This not only translates into higher CPMs and inventory value but builds credibility and trust with your audience who will be more inclined to subscribe to your paywall or newsletter because they recognize the value of consuming more relevant content.