As we close the book on 2019 we get to look back over the last 12 months, across all our customers around the globe to see what exactly the year meant.
Here are 5 of our most interesting takeaways:
#1 Video strategies are finally shifting away from Grow Views at All Costs
Over the last 12 months we've seen video publishers start to shift their strategies away from an inflation based model where they grow views at all costs.
There have been a few head winds pushing this change and the course of many publishers has started to turn.
The hardest nut for them to crack has been re-organising their teams and how they execute in this 'less is more' environment. Everything from how to incentivise and target editorial teams, to understanding what keeps audiences engaged and coming back to increasing the dollar yield from your available advertising inventory has gone under the microscope.
The net outcome is that video is now typically owned by commercial teams and Chief Revenue Officers; and 'smart video strategies' are emerging that constantly ask: 'if you can't monetise it should you publish it?'.
Leading publishers are learning exactly what it is about their content that maximises their returns by linking up their editorial teams with their commercial teams across a unified data set. So everyone is singing from the same sheet.
#2 Less demand partners drive better returns
Programmatic trading for video was supposed to follow in display's footsteps.
With the ability to significantly increase the number of buyers for your inventory, the theory went, more of that inventory would be sold and at a higher average price. A cash printing machine.
Over the last 12 months we have seen consistent monthly capping of impressions on media customers across broadcast and publishing, irrespective of how many demand sources they have plugged in and how many views they generate.
We've even heard direct from the demand side that they have maxed out their spend for many of their supply partners.
The evidence strongly suggests that just throwing more demand partners into the mix is a red herring.
What works is understanding which of the 2 or 3 partners deliver consistently and constantly. By reducing your supply you then help your chosen partners better attract demand and in turn better service the demand's requirements. A flywheel effect can then emerge.
There is such a thing as too much.
#3 Sayonara Autoplay Sticky Players
For those that follow the industry news you will already be aware that the browsers have put major restrictions on autoplay players. With more on the way.
And with buyers being made aware of the low quality of autoplay small player inventory from independent verification providers, the time has come to remove autoplay sticky players once and for all.
Their costs far outweigh the benefits.
The initial motivation for these units was commercially sound (if not highly questionable from many other aspects) but that loophole has been firmly shut over the last year.
Every online video publisher we work with that deploys autoplay / sticky players continues to experience decreased yields and ability to sell that inventory.
#4 Technical issues and challenges continue to plague the industry
Although the majority of the reasons why media owners aren't selling all of their video inventory rests with how they sell and who they sell it to, there is still a surprisingly large amount of attempts that fail due technical reasons.
We spend a lot of our time helping our customers troubleshoot their businesses and technical setups.
Across 2019 we continually ran up against a slew of technical errors that are completely fixable.
What surprised us is the extent to which our customers were unaware of exactly what was going on. They had a general sense that things weren't as they were meant to be but that was the sum total of it.
Everything from typos in the ad tag, to security restrictions in the browser and targeting misconfigurations caused our customers to leave money on the table.
Thankfully once fixed they tended to stay fixed, and if they didn't we'd catch them quickly before they could cause further damage.
All that aside though we're still surprised that for an industry that is on target to generate $150 Billion a year in revenue over the next 4 years the monitoring and control systems deployed (if any indeed are) tend to be basic, highly manual, incredibly cumbersome and highly ineffective.
#5 There is a real hunger to learn
What's surprised us most from the last 12 months is that despite all the challenges, all the pressures to do more with less, all the headwinds buffeting the ship, the human element; the talent powering our customers continues to learn how to grow.
Instead of just clocking in and clocking out, our customers continually want to push the envelope and challenge us to keep showing them new things to learn and leverage.
It's a symptom of the human condition to always want to progress despite the challenge, and maybe because of it, and we've welcomed it as we suffer the same affliction!
Here's to 2020!
It's been quite a year for us, and we've only just got started. We're very much looking forward to the next year and decade.
Video is certainly going to continue to be a fabric of our daily lives and shape our world for years to come. And we're pretty excited to be in and amongst it!