2009 was a massive year for the online video advertising industry as a whole. But some ad networks did far better than others. I've compiled the statistics for the last third of 2009 and have some ideas on where you should place your video advertisements online if you want to maximize their visibility. All of the data for this article was compiled from the monthly comScore Video Metrix tracking of the top ten video ad networks. Some were omitted because they were not present on the charts for most of the time range.
What I found was that December saw some good growth in the industry. Specifically for several ad networks who ended the year on top. Tremor Media led the pack for much of the year and continued to do so at the year end coming in number one for Unique Visitors (UV). BBE was previously listed as 2nd but it was an error in comScore's reporting. As stated previously, their numbers were overstated and they actually did finish the year in 6th place with 67.1M UV (not over 100M as comScore had originally reported). That put Advertising.com in second after a terrible October which saw them almost tied for 8th with ScanScout. Both networks rebounded in November and showed up 2nd and 5th respectively at the end of 2009.
SpotXchange got a last push for the year that propelled them into 3rd and expanded their UV almost 69% over the four months I compiled.
The others in the top ten showed fairly steady growth over the Sep-Dec range and included YuMe (4th), Break Media (7th), Brightroll (9th) and TidalTV (10th). Not represented on the graph but of note is Adconion who showed up in December in the 8th spot with 55M unique visitors after having been absent from the top ten for the duration. Clearly something big is going on over there as well. In November they acquired Joost which certainly gave them a Boost (haha!) Joost is a white label video platform provider. They also became the sole provider of online video ads for Goldbach Media Group in Europe. Goldbach Media is a "one-stop shop in advertising of private electronic, interactive and mobile media in Switzerland and, increasingly, in Austria and Germany with plans to enter selected Eastern European markets.”
So, on to the question posed in the title, where to place your online video advertisements. From what I've taken to calling the UV Rating or "who has got the most visitors" perspective, you have two options – Tremor and BBE. But one shouldn't exclude Advertising.com and SpotXchange as their recent growth patterns could boost them into the top two spots in the coming months. Sure there's a 20M unique visitor gap between them and the top dogs but that could easily be covered in a few months time. Tremor has showed staying power and remarkable growth meaning they have a lot of experience in being the biggest. BBE has been hanging around the top so they've got some color in their video ad karate belt as well. The other two have been middle of the pack for some time and the recent growth could possibly result in some technology problems (purely hypothetical here). Suddenly doubling the visitors or ads you are serving could cause some strain on the system is all that I'm saying. While potential reach and unique visitors are certainly important, there are other factors to take into account as well. Let's take a look at the most important facets that one should consider when placing their video ad online – cost, format options, targeting and metrics. I also include extras as well. In each area I rank them according to what I see as top to bottom. All of them offer some sort of metrics and nothing seemed unique in that area so I did not do an in-depth breakdown. Plus it would have required me to get an account for each and then spend hours poring over the data. I'm sure you all know what you want and need from analytics and almost all of these networks will provide the data you desire. NOTE: All of this information was garnered from the websites of the respective companies, except for BBE and Advertising.com which have virtually no information aside from the fact that they serve video ads.
SpotXchange takes the top spot here. I see their pricing model as being beneficial to both publishers and advertisers.
- SpotXchange – Auction-based pricing for impressions. Similar to what Google does with adwords. Publishers set asking price and then advertisers can place ads based on the price they like. Only charged when 7 seconds or 25% of a video is played.
- Tremor Media – Offers Cost-per-thousand (CPM), Cost-per-click (CPC), Cost-per-complete and click-per-continue.
- BBE – No information readily available on the website itself.
- Advertising.com – Also have no real information available on their site.
If you're going to pay to place that video ad online then you certainly want to know just what, where and how you can place it. Tremor takes top spot here with a load of options and some very unique offerings. However, SpotXchange also has some of those same interesting options, just not all. Tremor Media – Some unique and innovative formats.
- vChoice (teaser trailer with interactivity)
- Expanding video banners (video expands from thin to large with mouse-over)
- Page roll (a companion ad)
- Video overlay
- Video widgets.
SpotXchange – Mostly standard offerings.
- Video overlay (click to see commercial or just click to see advertiser website while video pauses)
- Pre-roll (with companion banner)
- In-game ads (play while game loads in background or interstitial between game levels)
- Video banners (inline video ads with muted sound)
Advertising.com - Also have no real information available on their site One can imagine that both BBE and Advertising.com must have some sort of pre-roll ads which are industry standard as well as some companion ad placement. However, there is no firm word on this from them at present.
This was a tough one. There are a lot of ways to target and SpotXchange's recent re-targeting and de-targeting I think give it a slight edge. However, Tremor also has some cool ways to target so it's sort of a toss up here. SpotXchange
- Specific website – Unique to them (sort of).
- Re-targeting (target consumers who visited but have yet to buy)
- De-Targeting (No ads for those who have already purchased from you)
- Frequency Capping – (how many times a consumer sees the ad in a period of time)
- By channel (industry)
- Day-parting (specific periods in the day)
- Psychographic (this must be something to do with linked interests as opposed to gender, age, location)
- Campaign re-targeting
Advertising.com – (Pulled from their site)
- Re-targeting – can target those who have or have not been to your site.
- Survey-Based: Target users based on their responses to consumer survey questions (e.g., MRI).
- Purchase-Based: Target users based on products they've purchased.
- Technographic: Target users by connection speed, operating system, browser type, etc.
- Custom Database Match: Target your customers within AOL's membership database.
- Look-Alike Modeling: Target users who exhibit similar characteristics to your customers (or other valuable audiences).
BBE – (These are extrapolated from their highly uninformative website)
It almost seems like there are more ways to target your ads than there are actual ad formats. Not entirely a bad thing as you want to be certain that your ads are seen by the people who you want to see them and that's a fairly important part of it a..
- SpotXchange – No ad-serving fees, real-time optimization, integrated with DoubleClick and Atlas, near-instant campaign completion option.
- Tremor Media – Free Creative services, brand engagement including Live streaming, data feeding into the ad spots.
- BBE – No idea. Why? See below.
- Advertising.com – Ditto.
Really BBE sure looks like they only want the crème de la crème and Advertising.com is solely going on its reputation and not on a wide variety of information. Neither one of them feels very accessible from a small business perspective. SpotXchange and Tremor on the other hand are working hard to get your business and offer you something in return it seems.
This is completely subjective and is solely based on my feelings for each of the networks based on what I read on their sites and the information contained within.
- Different! - SpotXchange – The social way to get your ads online and in front of consumers.
- BIG! - Tremor Media – We are the champions and can do it all, just look at our UV Rating.
- ELITIST! - BBE – If you have to ask, you can't afford us.
- We're Famous! - Advertising.com – You don't need to know what we do, just who we are (AOL).
During the writing of this article I contacted both Tremor Media and BBE for some information on their services and some clarification. Neither responded which is odd since I'm basically giving them free press. I guess they're big enough that they don't have to worry about the likes of me and ReelSEO...but what's that say about them in general?
And the winner is...
For me, based on offerings, purchasing options and just general feel and freedom of information, hands down SpotXchange gets the People's Choice Award (where I'm the People). Tremor also looks good but their lack of response when I emailed them is sort of off-putting, but they are the biggest to date. BBE and Advertising.com won't even give you the most basic of information without you having to contact their sales department. That would then, to me, signify that they will hound you and try to continually send you emails about your inquiry, even if you are just on a fact finding mission. I hate businesses that can't be up front about their prices and services offered, it makes me feel like they are hiding something. So that's another point for both Tremor and SpotXchange. The Biggest and perhaps Best – Tremor Media The More interesting choice – SpotXchange Of course there's nothing that says you have to be exclusive to a single ad network. You might be inclined to spread your online video ad campaign across a couple and run them concurrently or even on alternate months, etc. That could then give you an even wider spectrum of online video viewers as I'm fairly certain that there are sites in each of the ad networks that are not in all of them. That would then give you the power to cover the unique visitors of both which means more viewers even if there is some overlap sometimes. I just threw this last chart in because it was pretty and they took a lot of frickin work to make! It's pretty much the same info as in the line graph above. Update: comScore contacted us and stated that:
The figures for BBE were actually overstated in our system for December 2009.
The charts have been updated.