7 steps help guide a news publisher’s programmatic video strategy

By Paula Felps


Nashville, Tennessee, United States


Programmatic advertising has seen tremendous growth in recent years, but right now, video could be the strongest player in the programmatic arsenal.

During this week’s Webinar, INMA members heard more about leveraging video from Jason Tate, senior director, programmatic and partnerships development at Media News Group and Tribune Publishing in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the United States.

INMAs Advertising Initiative Webinar, Building a programmatic video strategy, gave members a clear overview of how well video performs and explained what publishers can do to take advantage of its growth.

“The main reason we’re talking about video today is because I believe that video is where the money is,” Tate said, explaining many of the traditional broadcast television budgets have been allocated to video. “It’s up to us as publishers to go out and find that money, especially as we’re seeing other things like social and display and even native advertising kind of start to slip.”

Jason Tate, senior director/programmatic and partnerships development at Media News Group and Tribune Publishing in Cincinnati, Ohio, explained the importance of creating a programmatic video strategy.
Jason Tate, senior director/programmatic and partnerships development at Media News Group and Tribune Publishing in Cincinnati, Ohio, explained the importance of creating a programmatic video strategy.

In the United States, video ad spending nearly tripled from 2019 until today. Although display ad spending has continued growing steadily, it hasn’t come close to the kind of growth video has experienced. That video growth is due, in part, to agency buyers becoming more comfortable with buying video, whether it’s on a local media Web site or onto a large platform like Netflix or Roku.

“More and more of the spend in advertising is certainly shifting that direction, and … we’re going to see this continuing growth over the next 10 to 15 years. So it’s up to us, as publishers, to really present ourselves in the market to be able to capitalise on that spend.”

Video now comprises more than half of the total U.S. programmatic ad spend, which means it’s incumbent on publishers to determine how to get more video content. “There’s a lot of money to be had,” Tate noted, but said the challenge is figuring out how to attract those dollars.

“At the end of the day, we have to figure out a way to get more video. We’ve got to either build more content or get with better partners that offer better revenue shares or better rates, etc.”

Steps to consider

Knowing which steps to take to accomplish those video objectives is crucial, so Tate shared his insights into what publishers should consider as they look at who to work with, how and when video will be used, and how it affects each department.

The seven steps are:

  1. Define your video options and determine revenue streams for those products. At the same time, establish rules and some regulations about when a video is played on a page, perhaps based on what type of user is visiting that page. It’s also critical to determine how many videos should be on a page. Tate said they’ve “found a sweet spot somewhere two to three, depending on the length of an article.” This will take some experimentation, as what works for one publisher may not be right for another.
  2. Create a matrix to lay out all video players, all partners, providers, etc., and determine what key features each partner might have. “Step one is you, step two is [about] the partner. What are their needs? What are they trying to do? They’re trying to get more inventory, but are they taking data from your site? Don’t leave any stone unturned.”
  3. Develop an RFI or RFP and do a competitive analysis on the biggest advantage of each partner. “Go down the list and be very strategic and thorough on how you’re picking your partner,” Tate advised.
  4. Hold internal meetings with editorial teams. “Editorial and revenue teams need to be in lockstep on making these decisions,” he said. “These are important decisions for your company. So any cross-departmental conversations you need to have around best practices, I would highly recommend doing that.” Getting everyone on the same page is imperative, he said.  
  5. Use peer analysis and market best practices to understand what’s working. “Educate yourself,” Tate urged. “I can’t stress this enough. Always talk to your peers.” Associations like INMA are invaluable for this, he said, because “We’ve got a large network of people like us that are doing what we do, either better or worse. Trade ideas and network. What one thing works for them might not work for us, or in some instances, they work for everybody.”
  6. Narrow down potential partners. Get it down to two or three partners that can be tested in different environments, such as sports pages or business or lifestyle. “Narrow it down on who your partners are going to be and then look at the integrations and development conversations and bring your product and developers into the conversation.”
  7. Pick the vendor you think is the best fit. “Then start launching and tracking revenue metrics and make sure everything is clearly and concisely laid out on the table.” This avoids confusion and holds everyone accountable, he said. If something “goes a little haywire,” he said to be prepared to pivot quickly to a new plan.

“Your overlying goal is to create new inventory to sell and to grow revenue,” Tate reminded. “There’s certainly money in video and that’s no joke. That’s where the money is right now, and it’s going to continue to go in that direction. So that’s the goal that I look at.”

Jumping into video

For publishers, there’s no question video needs to play a key role in advertising strategies — and it needs to be embraced sooner rather than later.

Jason Tate shared seven takeaways for publishers to move forward with video.
Jason Tate shared seven takeaways for publishers to move forward with video.

“Dont be scared to roll up your sleeves and get into the weeds with this stuff,” Tate told INMA members. “And be curious. What are your peers doing? What are you doing that they’re not?”

Then, he suggested developing a go-to-market strategy. This means working with various teams — editorial, developers, product, etc., and asking questions: “Ask questions, then ask more questions. When you think you’re done asking questions, ask more questions,” he said.

One of the main points he emphasised was to learn to love data because data is everything.

“That’s the beauty about programmatic,” he said. “It’s all happening in real time and all of these systems allow us to track the data and click-through rates and revenue spending, all of that. So love it and live with it.”

And when all that is done, he said, rinse and repeat: “Do it all over again. Get better and grow revenue.”

If you’d like to subscribe to my bi-weekly newsletter, INMA members can do so here.

About Paula Felps

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.