Online Video Advertising Industry Report for Q3 2008

Online video ad network, LiveRail recently released a complete report of the online video advertising industry titled, "State Of The Industry Report for Q3 2008″. This exhaustive report (below) highlights both the growth of online video advertising as well as the challenges with online video advertising.

According to the report, online video advertising currently only represents 2.36% of all online advertising expenditures. In addition, less than 21% of internet video streams are currently being monetized. As a result of the opportunity, online video ad spending is forecast to grow 55% in 2009 vs 2008 to almost a billion dollars.


  • Online Video Advertising Spend To Grow >55% Next Year
  • US Online video advertising spending expected to hit $962m in 2009
  • Confusing array of technology and ad-unit standards constraining current growth rates
  • Video ad spending still represents just 2.36% of all online advertising
  • Average In-Stream CPMs reach $15.8
  • In-Stream (pre/mid/post roll) still representing 88% of all video ads
  • 20.95% of internet video streams being monetized
  • Video Publishers generating an effective monetization rate of $4.05 per thousand streams (CPM)



Despite significant market buzz, and a special Silverlight-powered site, industry analysts are suggesting that NBC's web coverage of the Olympics was a very mixed success. streamed 72 million videos and generated 1.2 billion page views, put into perspective; Yahoo Sports (which had no video) achieved an average of 4.7 million visitors a day versus NBC's 4.3 million (source: Nieisen Online). eMarketer have suggested that NBC's Olympics video ad revenue only amounted to $5.75 million.

The eMarketer estimate does not include banner-ad revenue generated by NBC's 1.2 billion page views, which we estimate would have generated an additional $12 million.

However its still a very small proportion of the $1bn NBC generated by their coverage overall. Given that NBC paid $900m for exclusive video rights to the Olympics, meaning that its profits will be about $100 million, it seems a shame that they were not able to monetize the event more successfully online.

We put this down to two major factors.

  1. First, their decision to limit the availability of content so as to avoid cannibalizing TV viewership (surveys of viewer usage and preferences have suggested this fear is substantially unfounded)
  2. and secondly, their decision to use a Silverlight based player. Silverlight despite being technologically promising, is still poorly distributed, with a very small install base relative to industry leader Adobe Flash.


Despite still being substantially smaller than YouTube, with 88 million videos served compared to YouTube's 4.2 billion, analysts are now beginning to suggest that Hulu will be the more successful business, thanks to its ability to sell advertising across 100% of its inventory, compared to just 3% for YouTube.

This is thanks to its policy of only serving high-quality original content, and securing licensing deals from content owners, rather than allowing users to upload the content themselves. This has removed the risk of copyright infringing content, or content of questionable quality; risk factors that most advertisers are anxious to avoid being associated with.

According to one estimate, Hulu could enjoy $90 million in revenue in its first year. YouTube's estimated worldwide revenue total for 2008 is $200 million this year, but is estimated to be approximately half that domestically. Given that Hulu caters almost exclusively to a US audience, both YouTube and Hulu could see roughly the same revenues in the U.S. this year.


In July, the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) released its first public draft of its "Digital Video Ad Serving Template" (VAST). VAST is intended to provide standardized communication protocol between video players and ad servers, allowing technology providers to build players and ad servers that are more easily compatible and interchangeable. Publishers who use the standard will be able to plug into multiple third-
party digital video ad servers and networks without additional development.

The current lack of standards for ad-server integrations within media players has created a significant hurdle to adoption of new platforms for many publishers and the complexities of having to reintegrate with new vendors has created an artificial barrier preventing a fluid market in the technology sector.

The public comment period will last until September 10, 2008, after which feedback will be collated, reviewed and a final version of the document released shortly after.

We expect broad industry adoption of VAST to take between 9-18 months from the date of release and feel confident that the importance of standardized integrations is such that most vendors will adopt a VAST-compliant platform strategy in this time-frame.

Online Video Advertising Industry Report for Q3 2008LIVERAIL JUNCTION

In August, LiveRail announced Junction, a new publisher tool to facilitate the complex task of managing relationships with multiple ad sources. Junction gives publishers the flexibility to request and display ads from any ad-source, ad-network or ad-server without having to make adjustments to their media player or technology back end, reducing the lead time to going live with a new ad partners, minimizing unfilled
inventory and maximizing revenue.

Junction also takes care of the complex process of distributing available inventory among partners and content owners; allowing publishers to divide available inventory according to rights, and track revenue share accordingly. It is seen as an important tool not just to help minimize the technical difficulties of working with multiple partners, but also to manage the problem of making online video a viable business.


eMarketer again revised their estimates for the size of online video advertising spending in the US in August.

Estimates for 2008 were revised down to $505m, with 2009 being taken to $750m and the industry expected to cross the billion dollar mark in 2010 to a total of $1.15bn


Q3 2008 has been categorized by a continuation of confusion and a proliferation of ad-units, technology vendors and metrics. Many of the fundamental issues that have plagued the successful monetization of online video content now have solutions available, but few have successfully stood out as the single silver bullet, nor managed to achieve critical mass in the market.

We believe this is due to several factors, and have identified 6 key challenges that the industry must overcome.

These are:

No true 3rd Party Ad ServingAlmost all video ad servers require that campaigns be manually booked within their own system, and in many cases that the publisher is integrated directly with that platform. There is still no ubiquitous technology analogous to "ad tags" from the display advertising world.
Reporting DiscrepanciesPublishers are continuing to experience confusion and frustration as publishing platforms and ad-servers deliver different measurements on performance.
Confusing array of ad formatsFrom "linear video interactive ad with companion ads" to "non-linear non-overlay ads" the industry has succeeded in developing a proliferation of formats, however the abundance of options (and confusing terminology) has created difficulties for advertisers in terms of purchasing decisions, delivery of creative and measuring engagement, delivery and ROI.
Non-standard IntegrationsVideo players and ad-servers do not have a standard protocol for the request, response and display of advertising. Publishers who wish to receive ads from one partner may find that they need to undertake a totally new technical integration in order to receive ads from another; this has prevented fluidity in the market for technology and among ad networks.
Inconsistent TerminologyAlthough the IAB has tried to set standard definitions for metrics and units, the industry has still failed to adopt a consistent lexicon for the description of both units and metrics
Measuring EffectivenessWhereas direct response advertising can easily be shown to be effective or not, brand advertisers using online video have difficulty proving the effectiveness of their campaigns. Technology to measure metrics like "brand lift" will help prove the usefulness of video advertising improving ROI and enhancing optimization.

While the IAB has made steps to tackle some of these issues, the nature of the organization does not permit it to insist on these standards, nor does it always provide the simplest solution; given its desire to satisfy the broad (and often diverging) variety of its member's interests. Additional consolidation of vendors and the emergence of market leaders may help resolve some of these issues.


Q3 2008 has been an successful period for online video advertising; with improving adoption, perception, spending and performance across a variety of metrics.


  • Average Overlay Click Through Rates are: 1.1%
  • Click through rates from overlay ads to websites: 10.6%
  • Close out rates for overlays are 81%
  • Click Through rates for standard overlays: 0.8%
  • Animated overlay click through rates are: 4.2%
  • Completion rate for video ads launched as a result of clicking on an overlay are: 90%
  • Average CPMs for overlay ad campaigns are $18.4
  • Current size of the market for overlays: $70m
  • We estimate that overlays (and other non-instream ads) represent 12% of video ads served

IN-STREAM (pre/mid/post roll)

  • Average Completion rate of 79% for 15 second pre-rolls,
  • Average Completion rates are 84% for 30 second pre-rolls.
  • Click through rates from in-stream ads (to advertiser's websites) are: 11.5%
  • Average CPMs for In-Stream are $15.8
  • We estimate that In Stream Ads represent 88% of video ads served
  • Current size of market for In-stream $550m approx


  • 153 billion US video streams projected for calender 2008
  • Estimated calendar 2008 US online video advertising of $619m
  • At these volumes, video publishers are achieving an effective monetization rate (EMR) of $4.05 per thousand streams. This figure is calculated by dividing the total dollar amount spent on US video advertising by the total number of US streams, which represents the average CPM for videos diluted by the fill rate
  • Given our overlay and in-stream ad unit data, and assuming each monetized video asset contains 1.2 billable ad units, we estimate the average monetized video asset nets an eCPM of $19.33
  • At this rate, we find that only 20.95% of video streams are currently being monetized, with four fifths of video streams going without any in-video advertising.


US Online Video Ad Spend ($m)$214$371$619$962$1,399
Growth (%)73.25%66.86%55.47%45.42%
US Total Online Ad Spend ($m)$16,879$21,206$26,168$31,248$36,215
Growth (%)25.64%23.40%19.41%15.90%
Video as a % of total spend1.27%1.75%2.36%3.08%3.86%

Online Video Advertising Industry Report for Q3 2008

About LiveRail

LiveRail is a venture capital-backed startup providing technology products and services for online video advertising. The company's video-focused approach allows it to deliver superior advertising technology tools, empowering publishers and advertisers to make the most of the opportunities of online video. LiveRail is based in San Francisco, California. For more information, please visit


The figures, statements and statistics contained in this report have been gathered and compiled by LiveRail through observing activity on its own network, collating data/reports from third parties including ad networks, advertisers, publishers and technology partners both formally and anecdotally, statistics gathered from third-party white papers and by general observance of the industry.

About the Author -
Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼

Comments are closed.