Scoring a Few Golden Eggs From Your Digital Video Goose

By Giles Goodwin, CEO of Flite 

Giles GoodwinUnless you’ve been on extended sabbatical, you’ve undoubtedly read countless articles portraying digital video as more or less the Holy Grail of digital publishing. Without a doubt, mobile and video are no longer distinct, discrete strategies per se, but rather must be integral to everything you do.

Just examining video alone, the benefits are all there – higher engagement, robust video completion rates (VCR) and a much-needed shot-in-the-arm of additional revenue for publishers. Video ads often see up to three times more engagement than display counterparts. However, monetizing video can be challenging, especially when you look at some of the revenue splits. For example, video creators on YouTube keep about 55% of ad revenues, while musicians earn about a 70% cut from platforms like Spotify and iTunes.

However, with a bit of restraint and guidance, digital video may just be the silver bullet you’ve been looking for. Let’s take a look at six potential strategies to get you beyond the obvious solutions, and make digital video work better for you.

Look beyond the same old content.

Too many publishers leap headfirst into video without thinking much about the most important part—how to create quality content in their vertical. It’s useless to have video on every page if those videos are boring, irrelevant, or just plain unoriginal. Worse, it hurts your brand. Getting into video is not without risk, and creators have to be willing to experiment and iterate to find out what works best for their visitors. If you aren’t willing to fail small, you won’t succeed—full stop.

Look beyond on-demand, short-form formats.

protest marchLive video is a huge opportunity for publishers today. Digital audiences are hungry to watch events unfold in real time, whether it’s a protest march, a sports game, or a watermelon on the verge of exploding. They’re also willing to tune-in for much longer to see how these events end—Buzzfeed’s watermelon broadcast, for instance, went on for a whopping 44 minutes.

Digital publishers are taking notice of both the user preferences and the monetization opportunities of live streaming. Facebook’s new in-app video tab will prioritize live videos, putting them at the top of the feed, and sticking on-demand videos below. For the publisher who cracks the code—by experimenting, iterating, and being willing to fail small—the live video audience is there for the taking.

Look beyond the usual ad partners.

If your viewership numbers for video aren’t what you were hoping, perhaps it’s not your content’s fault: it might be the fault of the ads. Studies have shown that viewers start to abandon videos after a mere 2 seconds of buffering—and the tracking software embedded in some ads can slow load times to a crawl. Studies have also shown that interactive video ads, which offer opportunities for the user to manipulate content within the ad itself, outperform traditional ads across nearly all engagement metrics (including a completion rate, which came to an impressive 77.7%). Better personalization can often boost engagement, too.

If your videos are losing viewers, it might be worth asking your tech partners what they can do to streamline the ad insertion process, or attract more interactive, personalized content. Remember: UX comes before all. If we make video ads that aren’t optimized to all screens and are slow-to-load, we’ll see corresponding poor engagement.

Look beyond advertising.

These days, a lot of publishers are finding success with non-traditional monetization strategies like affiliate marketing; so much so that some are even hiring devoted e-commerce editors  to head up the effort. Sponsorship deals where a brand’s products are featured in the video itself are another option for revenue—though everyone should avoid repeating Yahoo Screen’s mistakes here. These alternative solutions never replace ad revenue entirely for most publishers, but they definitely can help supplement their income, especially during that initial iteration phase.

Look beyond mainstay social networks.

Established platforms like YouTube don’t necessarily offer a great revenue split. But look around—there are plenty of up-and-coming social networks, messenger apps, and platforms that offer publishers a bigger slice of the pie. Keep your eyes open, and you may find better deals out there—even if they come with a smaller initial viewership.

Look beyond digital.

Within the world of digital video, some web-native publishers are instead opting to go old school. For instance, Mashable’s recent deal with Turner Media may be a first step toward showing some of Mashable’s video content on Turner channels like TNT and TBS. It makes sense—monetizing video via linear television is much more of a known quantity, and may provide a more predictable revenue stream. As with many monetization strategies in today’s media marketplace, its full impact remains to be seen. But it never hurts to keep your eyes on what’s streaming.


The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at [email protected]


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