It’s hard to argue with the numbers.

Our metrics clearly demonstrate that to increase viewership and attract premium advertising dollars, video content must appear in contextually relevant copy or above the fold. Ideally, it’s both. 

Sport highlight video is our business. SendtoNews aggregates digital video for sports leagues and organisations such as the PGA TOUR, NFL, and NASCAR, and distributes this content to hundreds of publishers around North America.

I believe open ad exchanges are the wrong way to go when it comes to monetising this content, and instead prefer dealing directly with a closed marketplace of premium brands and their ad agencies.

In the words of Brian Lesser, global CEO of Xaxis, an open exchange “devalues the inventory and doesn’t provide control of what advertisers go up against the content.”

However, there is a qualifier: a closed market for selling advertising opportunities with premium video content demands a sophisticated understanding among publishers on the value of well-placed and contextually paired video. Without it, value bleeds quickly.

We pay close attention to the impact video placement and size of player has on click-through rate (CTR), and some interesting trends emerge.

For example, we see an inverse relationship between the number of impressions and the CTR for a placement. This is caused by the viewer’s level of interest or, put another way, the degree to which the content is contextually relevant.

Here’s why. Homepage placements generate the most impressions but have a low CTR, because not all viewers to the homepage are interested in sports. This situation is exacerbated by homepage placements landing below the fold.

The main takeaway for newspaper.com publishers can be distilled down to the following: the more contextually relevant the video, the better the engagement with the content.

So, how well do newspaper publishers grasp the importance of digital video placement on the page?

Generally, not so well.

Consider the following statistic: of the hundreds of partners that receive sports video content via our News Partnership Network™, less than 1% has a CTR above 0.1%.

This says two things loudly:

  1. Newspaper.com publishers still have a mountain to climb in terms of bringing the sophistication of their digital video content management up to modern digital advertising standards.

  2. On the positive side, there remains huge untapped ad revenue potential, which can only be good news for revenue challenged newspapers.

Two of our partners, the NFL and Postmedia Network Inc., are doing it right and consequently reaping the rewards of three to four times higher than industry average costs per impression (CPMs), typically in the single digits to mid-teens.

Part of our mission at SendtoNews is educating publishers. Backed by solid metrics, we are able to confidently demonstrate how, if publishers and editors don’t place video in context above the fold, they won’t achieve the views and, therefore, the revenues required to build a sustainable online video business. 

Advertisers want engagement; that’s why CTR matters. Top-shelf brands won’t pay for a player submerged way below the fold, thousands of pixels down the page, on mute and running on auto play. That’s about as attractive as a spot in the “nosebleed seats” section at a hockey game.

Unfortunately, this is what much of the industry is doing and selling against. Discerning advertisers combat this trend by monitoring CTR and also running tracking pixels, which provide a degree of transparency on placement. This gives them the tools to avoid paying for clicks and views not within their specified target and buy parameters. 

So, in our experience, if newspaper.com publishers treat high-definition, quality sports video highlights like a Porsche, they’ll attract the attention of brands that want to be associated with a luxury automobile; treat it like a Rent-A-Wreck, you’ll get the corresponding low-ball hucksters and CPMs.