Short-form sports video can throw a lifeline to revenue-challenged newspapers. However, it takes more than simply slapping highlights onto a newspaper.com and hoping for a positive outcome.

Publishers need to think strategically about placement; that is, where the content is located and the size of the video player. Professionally edited, high-definition (HD) quality video is also key. So, too, is content that is relevant to the viewer.

These are all important considerations when trying to drive traffic and capture impressions.

When it comes to placement, above-the-fold, full-size players promote the highest level of reader engagement. Take NFL.com as an example: the U.S. National Football League’s Web site embeds slickly edited, timely, HD video highlights and interviews into each article, creating the ultimate platform for viewer engagement with super relevant content.

SendtoNews, an aggregator and distributor of video sports highlights, has found that above-the-fold placement drives roughly 98% of player views. During a six-week test, we noticed on average a 380% growth in traffic across a partners’ sports pages where our videos were integrated — and a doubling of watch time.

The proof is in the higher CPMs and ad dollars that advertisers are willing to pay for premium player placement. Individually embedded, above-the-fold video players are the ultimate sweet spot for garnering impressions.

Good placement needs strong promotion. Publishers must educate and direct readers on their home pages to the top-shelf video highlights available in the sports section. Not just occasional clips, but consistent content that keeps sports fans engaged and informed about their teams and athletes.

How a video player looks and functions is mission critical. NFL highlights appear on a SendtoNews proprietary player that features a main window above nine small, click-and-view windows loaded with specific highlights. A drop-down box allows the viewer to filter out all video for their favourite team.

Custom video players like this can be skinned to suit not just big budget leagues like the NFL with national daily newspaper appeal, but also smaller leagues and regional newspaper publishers with highly localised markets.

For example, in a hockey-mad country like Canada, publishers like Glacier Media Group and Black Press, which each own dozens of community newspaper properties, are dying for video highlights of their local major junior hockey team, such as the Kamloops Blazers or the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Again for the publisher, the key for video content is timeliness, placement, and relevancy.

Relevant content means understanding that major junior hockey leagues have hyperlocal fan bases that represent a potential windfall in viewer engagement, impressions, and, ultimately, ad sales from brands and sponsors that recognise the value of a highly targeted market.

Keying into market locality is a necessity for newspapers. Canada’s best tennis player, Milos Raonic, and his recent victory at the Thailand Open was a relatively obscure story in the global sports arena. In Canada, highlights of the victory netted a huge number of impressions for newspapers in SendtoNews’ distribution network because the video was relevant, timely, and located in above-the-fold players.

Yet all the video in the world is worthless without accurate metrics that can dissect impressions down to a weekly, daily, and hourly level, and can also show where these views are coming from.

As an example, during last year’s American Hockey League Calder Cup playoffs, SendtoNews found almost 12% of total digital video plays came from sports and fan sites in Slovakia specifically interested in three Slovak star players.

This kind of data is invaluable to the AHL for identifying its out-of-market fan bases.

It’s also crucial for newspaper publishers wanting to drive traffic to the site, attract targeted advertising dollars, and monetise video content. And that’s what it’s all about in this challenging era of newspaper survival.