I recently had a discussion with a publisher regarding video monetisation. The executive I was dealing with was really impressed by how his company was able to monetise content with some really rich programmatic CPMs. It wasn’t asking if the content was engaging for its audience — it just saw the revenue hitting the books and wanted to keep pushing the content.

I started to spend a lot of time looking at the site, and the content produced by this news media publisher was far from engaging. A range of issues affected the content from the quality of the clip (too dark, image too shaky, and still images) all the way to the fact the journalists in those clips just simply did not have what it takes to be in front of a camera.

This leads us to look at our sports video highlights.

We started to ask ourselves: Are all sports videos created equal? For the fan, does a pro league syndicated highlight (MLB or NBA, as an example) create more engagement than a game recap video with still images or sparse video footage and maybe voiced-over opinions?

Most publishers will initially tell you their homemade content is better because they look at one metric: the CPM on that one specific clip. Of course, the CPM on that clip is better — there is no revenue share needed!

However, looking more closely and the conclusion changes. Using comScore and other research, we started to see the value of syndicated content from the leagues. Take a look at the chart below. Can you see a trend here?

Those companies holding syndicated content get far more views than those without.
Those companies holding syndicated content get far more views than those without.

The top four media partners delivering the highest monthly views per unique viewers (SendtoNews, ESPN, Fox Sports, and Yahoo) are all top league rights holders while the non-syndicated content produced by some of the top digital news sites delivers up to five times fewer views per unique viewers on a monthly basis.

What’s the key finding here? While your own video might generate double-digit CPMs on programmatic, getting the right syndicated content even at half that CPM still drives way more revenue at the end of the month because your audience is engaged and consumes a lot more videos!

For example, a US$10 CPM against your own content versus a US$8 CPM on official highlights translates into US$24 (US$8 x three times more views) to the top line, or almost 2.5 times the revenue from that placement over the course of a month.

Publishers should also consider other costs in producing their own content. With resources being limited, the time it takes to record, edit, produce, and sell the content could be better spent elsewhere, especially when you consider the alternative can be as simple as placing an automated embed code into the CMS.

In a recent study with a large publisher, our syndicated content generated almost five times the social media shares compared to its own produced content. Again, the multiplier effect of the more engaging content drives more viewers and impressions, which translates into an expanding and engaged audience for the longer term.

The bottom line is not all content is created equal. Consider the engagement of your audience with all content in all the various categories. You may be surprised at the upside you’ll see at the end of the month when you look at your bottom line.