In this opinion piece, SpotX Supply Operations Lead By Raymond Tran argues that editorial Video On Demand (EVOD) is a valuable avenue for advertisers to explore.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced brands and media owners to evolve in order to survive.
Many brands have adapted by gravitating towards the mass reach digital platforms of the duopoly and streaming services, often at the exclusion of all else. This is a missed opportunity. People are streaming a ton more video, but opportunities await those advertisers who look beyond just social video and BVOD.
A rich and premium online video ecosystem exists; called editorial Video On Demand (EVOD), underpinned by trusted publishers attracting hard-to-reach audiences with curated journalistic content, and strong communities for brands demanding more bang for their marketing buck.
The power of premium publishers
The insatiable appetite for news during the lock-down saw digital news media reach 17.2 million Australians as of June, representing 91 per cent of the population aged 14+, a 10 per cent audience increase compared to the previous period (Dec 19) according to Enhanced Media Metrics Australia.
However, WARC projected a 31 per cent reduction in digital print ad spend post-outbreak in Australia as brands took stock. This revenue downturn has been amplified by brands blocking news content in fear of being associated with COVID-related content.
More positively, non-news categories like entertainment and lifestyle have experienced a surge in consumption, and offer a safe space for the more sensitive advertisers.
One of SpotX’s leading partners is Daily Mail Australia, a top publisher with more than 10.7m monthly unique consumers (at July 2020), and arguably number one when it comes to celebrity and entertainment content.
Their efforts to adapt and win reflects the challenges and opportunities facing the broader online publisher space, who have to adroitly manage record audience numbers and remain attractive to hesitant brands.
Editorial adds value to Video on Demand
Digital has fragmented content consumption, challenging the hegemony of TV, as huge numbers of users engage across an ecosystem of official and unofficial content touchpoints. That has presented a huge opportunity for The Mail, says Head of Product and Commercial Operations Cameron Gunns.
For marquee shows like The Bachelor, their online coverage often achieves an audience equal to the season finale. Over 1m readers engaged with show content throughout last year’s season, with pre and post season coverage extending reach to 2.4m across 2019.
By creating rich editorial content around The Bachelor, The Mail often extends reality show contestants 15 minutes of fame, he said.
Publishers are uniquely placed to create adjacent journalistic content that explores the show’s personalities and reactions, broadening the experience for content-hungry fans. The Mail experiences its largest traffic spikes during 7-10pm peak TV times, and hence offers advertisers the chance to blast time-targeted campaigns to reach these second screeners, Gunns added.
Editorial delivers efficiency
News content is seeing surging popularity right now. However, reacting to advertiser sensitivity, leading publishers are offering granular brand safety capabilities which allow more nuanced control so they can monetise the large news audience with EVOD and allay advertisers concerns.
According to Gunns The Mail understands the complexities of brand safety in today’s ever changing news cycle, and implements different strategies for advertisers. With keyword and channel exclusions as standard, they work collaboratively with editorial to prefilter video content and categorise non-brand safe at the source.
If content is deemed brand inappropriate when published by the editorial team, the ad call can be switched off across all platforms, a more efficient way to safeguard the advertiser.
With respect to buying behaviour, a common approach to planning video campaigns involves allocating the lion share of budget to the duopoly or BVOD for scale, then dividing the remaining amount across the rest for tactical or opportunistic activations.
Whilst this offers a degree of simplicity, the opportunity cost of not diversifying and benefiting from incremental audiences or unique engagement opportunities should not be underestimated.
For their most popular entertainment content, The Mail’s Gunns noted that the publisher is seeing a trend of people who don’t actually watch the TV show itself, and just read the coverage online. He added that 64 per cent of those reading the current coverage of The Bachelor aren’t even tuning in.
Furthermore, The Mail is increasingly speaking with advertisers mid-campaign requesting EVOD content to satisfy reach objectives that BVOD hasn’t been able to fulfil, despite the latter being prioritised as a reach medium.
The metrics game is part of the challenge, and Gunns said that publishers must test format options that balance performance, advertiser demands, and user experience. He noted The Mail has their Seriously Popular Video player visible while browsing the site with contextually relevant content aimed at providing advertisers with cost effective reach, high viewability and completed view rate of 80 per cent. Alternatively clients can pay a premium to reach a more engaged audience with click-to-play video formats available within article pages.
As brands begin to spend again, those investing in video should view editorial video as a primary reach driver whilst benefiting from incremental audiences and premium contextual environments.
The future is bright for EVOD, particularly for those publishers exploring flexible pricing and packaging that compete directly with social video and streaming platforms.