Video Ads for Publishers: In-Depth Guide + 5 Options

Video Ads for Publishers: In-Depth Guide + 5 Options


Video ads can help publishers increase ad revenue by about 23% or more, depending on the site’s existing setup and the type of video units used. However, video ads aren’t the best option for every website. Publishers need to consider many different factors such as whether or not they have the right size and placement of ad inventory to make video ads effective. It’s also important to find the right lightweight video player that won’t slow down your core web vitals and damage your SERP rankings.

Plus, you’ll get different results depending on the type of video ad solution you choose. For example, some solutions are simply a platform where publishers and advertisers can buy and sell ad inventory (i.e., ad exchanges). With these solutions, you’ll carry full responsibility for your ad strategy. If you don’t have years of experience optimizing various ad setups, you’ll likely miss out on revenue and be limited to just that platform's pool of video advertisers.

Other solutions, called header bidding partners, use a wide variety of video solutions, connect them to multiple ad exchange platforms and provide additional ad tech to help you optimize your ad setup. These providers typically earn higher CPMs (cost-per-mille) for their publishers and provide a wider variety of video formats and players to suit your user experience goals.

In this guide, we cover: 

  • How to know if video ads are a good match for your website
  • The different types of video ad platforms (and how to choose the best one)
  • Five of the top video ad solutions for publishers
  • Frequently asked questions

Snigel is a header bidding partner for websites making at least $50/day.  In addition to maximizing revenue with video ads, Snigel can help you deliver fast page load times and a positive user experience. To see how we can help grow your ad revenue, get in touch.

How to Know If Video Ads Are a Good Match for Your Website and Users

While video ads are a great option for increasing revenue for some publishers, other publishers may end up frustrated with video ads because:

  • They can’t earn enough revenue to make running video ads worth it; and/or
  • It negatively affects the user experience

For these publishers, it’s much more effective to focus their energy on display ads. However, it’s worth noting that there’s a wide variety of video players and formats to choose from with some paying more than others and some focusing more on the user experience.

Here are six considerations to help you determine whether or not video ads are right for you.

Note: Many of these considerations only apply to out-stream video ads, i.e., video ads in a standalone format rather than ads inserted into publisher video content. If you already have video content, you’ll likely benefit from adding in-stream ads. If you don’t have video content but are interested in using syndicated content in order to take advantage of in-stream ads, you can learn more below. 

  1. Time on page: With display ads, 30–50% of the ad (depending on size) has to be visible to the user for a full second. With video ads, 50% of the ad unit needs to be visible for two full seconds while the video is playing for it to count as an impression. However, users need to stay on the page for at least 15 seconds for outstream and 45 seconds for instream (the longer, the better) for video ad units to be effective.
  2. Ad unit size: It’s much easier for users to absorb static rather than moving text/images when viewed as small units. Because of this, video ads typically need to be displayed as larger ad units (when compared to display ads) to perform well. If your typical page layout and user experience on your website doesn’t allow for large ad units, video ads may not be the best fit.
  3. Position of ad units: Video ad units need to be placed at the top or towards the top of the page to increase the chance of users actually viewing the ad. If you only have room for video ad units in the bottom half of the page, video ads units likely won’t perform as well for you.
  4. Location of users: If the majority of your traffic comes from countries that have slower internet speeds in general compared to other countries, you’ll have a harder time getting videos to load and play before the user leaves the page. And it could slow down overall page load times, which would negatively impact the user experience. In this case, video ads may not be the best fit. However, some providers, like Snigel, can customize your ad setup so that video ads only show for users from GEOs with high-speed internet connections. So, video may still be worth considering if you have some traffic from Tier 1 GEOs.
  5. Site speed: Some websites take longer to load overall than other websites because they have more security features (e.g., healthcare websites), complex apps (e.g., flight trackers), or any number of reasons.
  6. User tolerance: Some target audiences will tolerate video ads better than others. Some users don’t want to see any video ads, and others will respond well to highly targeted video ads or video ads shown only once per hour or session. An ad management expert can help you determine the balance between maximizing revenue from video ads and maintaining a great user experience.

Still not sure if video ads are a good fit for your website? Snigel’s ad experts can assess your website and determine if video ads are right for you. Plus, we can help you find other ways to increase ad revenue. Get in touch.

Types of Ad Networks (and How to Choose the Best Video Ad Network for Your Website)

Many video ad solutions are called “ad networks” even though they offer very different services and features. In general, there are three main types of ad monetization solutions:

  1. Ad networks act as middlemen by gathering ad inventory from multiple publishers and selling it as a bundle to advertisers.
  2. Ad exchanges are platforms where publishers and advertisers can buy/sell their own ad units/creatives directly to each other via ad auctions. (Ad exchanges can also be called supply side platforms or SSPs.)
  3. Header bidding partners help connect publishers to multiple ad exchanges and provide additional ad tech for optimizing their ad setup. Some also provide ad strategy support.

While it’s generally accepted in casual settings to refer to all of these solutions as “ad networks,” it’s important to know which one you’re dealing with so you know what to expect from the platform. Next, we’ll cover the pros and cons of each solution.

Ad Networks

Pros

  • It’s easy to get started. Simply install a wrapper, and they take care of the rest.
  • Small publishers can monetize their content with ads. While some ad networks have traffic requirements, it’s typically much easier for small publishers to find an ad network that they're eligible for compared to other ad monetization solutions.

Cons 

  • You’ll have little or no say over the ads that end up on your website. The advertising network will be the one deciding who to sell your ad inventory to.
  • You can’t set a floor price. Without a floor price, your ad inventory may end up selling for less than you’re comfortable with.
  • You’ll have very few options for optimizing your ad setup. While you’ll have some control over ad formats and how many ad units are available on your site, all other ad tech is managed by the ad network. Typically, they use the same cookie cutter strategy for all websites. Since no two websites are the same, most publishers need custom setups in order to maximize revenue.

Further reading: 9 of the Highest Paying Ad Networks: In-Depth Guide

Ad Exchanges

Pros 

  • You’ll have full control over your entire ad strategy and setup. You get to decide who to sell your ad inventory to, what additional ad tech you’ll use, how you’ll implement that ad tech, the minimum price you’re willing to sell your ad inventory for, and much more.
  • You’ll have access to a wider pool of premium advertisers. Most ad exchanges have strict criteria for which advertisers can join the platform. This typically means you’ll get higher quality ads. Plus, the more advertisers that bid on your space, the more competition, which usually results in higher CPM rates.

Cons

  • It’s very difficult to gain access to ad exchanges. Most ad exchanges have strict criteria for who can join the platform. Typically only large publishers such as ESPN meet the requirements to join an ad exchange.
  • You have to manage your ad strategy. There’s a lot to consider when optimizing your ad setup for maximum revenue. Take, for example, optimizing the ad setup for the desktop sidebar. Should you use adaptive, interactive, or sticky ads? Should you use time- or event-based ad refresh (or both)? Which SSPs should you connect to the ad units for maximum CPMs and performance? Should you use client- or server-side header bidding? The list goes on. It takes years of experience working with many different ad layouts to know the answer to these questions, and most publishers don’t have that experience.
  • You have to implement and maintain your ad stack. Most ad exchanges offer basic ad formats such as interstitial ads, banner ads, video ads, etc. However, you’ll need additional ad tech for features such as ad refresh or adblock revenue recovery. Without additional ad tech, your revenue potential will be much lower. Since most ad exchanges don’t offer this software, you’ll have to integrate and maintain third-party solutions, which is a time-consuming task. Plus, few publishers have the necessary technical skill to implement and maintain the software.

Further reading: Top 10 Ad Exchanges (and How to Access 40+ from One Platform)

Header Bidding Partners

Pros

  • You’ll have access to multiple ad exchanges. Header bidding partners connect to and manage accounts with multiple ad exchanges so that publishers don’t have to. Each ad exchange offers different benefits. For example, Google AdX is known for attracting high-quality advertisers, while Magnite is known for producing high CPMs for video ads. By connecting to multiple ad exchanges, you won’t have to choose one over the other.
  • You can take advantage of header bidding. Header bidding lets publishers send bid requests to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously. This increases the competition, which drives up the price.
  • You’ll have access to additional ad tech. Most header bidding partners have developed (or acquired) additional ad tech to help you optimize your ad setup for maximum revenue.

Cons 

  • There are fees. Most header bidding partners take a percentage of your ad revenue as their fee. Their revenue share can be anywhere from 1530%.
  • You might not be able to customize your ad stack. Many header bidding partners apply a cookie-cutter ad setup to all websites. If a publisher wants to customize a setting to increase performance, they’re on their own. Like we mentioned earlier, most publishers need customizations to increase revenue, but few of them have the necessary technical skills. On the other hand, Snigel provides a custom ad setup for every website. We handle the entire implementation and maintenance of your ad stack for you. (More on this later.)
  • Ad strategy support varies between providers. Being able to customize your ad stack is only helpful if you know the right ad strategy to implement in the first place. Again, most header bidding partners leave you on your own to create and implement your own ad strategy. However, Snigel provides you with ad management experts who create your ad strategy for you and run ongoing tests to ensure the best solution is being implemented.

Further reading: 5 Best Header Bidding Solutions (+ Factors to Consider)

Next, we cover five of the top header bidding partners (our solution, Snigel), ad exchanges, and ad networks for video.

Five of the Best Video Ad Platforms for Publishers

1. Snigel’s AdStream for Promoting YouTube and Website Video Content (Video Header Bidding Partner)

Snigel AdStream: Diversify your ad revenue with over 200 websites, 4 billion ad impressions, and 180 million unique visitors

AdStream is Snigel’s native video solution that allows you to display high-quality video ads on your website and promote your YouTube channel. You’ll have access to customizable video formats, including in-stream, out-stream, in-content, floating, and more.

To ensure high CPMs and high-quality content, AdStream is connected to top SSPs including:

  • Google Ad Exchange
  • Amazon Publisher Services
  • Magnite
  • OpenX
  • Xandr
  • IndexExchange
  • PubMatic
  • Chocolate Platform
  • And more

AdStream helps publishers increase time on site, user engagement, and ad revenue by up to 10 times what they’re earning with display ads. 

Plus, we handle the implementation and maintenance of all ad tech for you. And, you’ll have a dedicated ad management expert who creates, implements, and manages a customized ad strategy for your website.

In the following sections, we dig into more details about AdStream and the customized approach we offer at Snigel.

Further reading: Native Video Header Bidding - How To Increase Revenue

In-stream, Out-stream, Direct Deals and More

To fill ad units, AdStream lets you take advantage of direct deals (i.e., selling ad units directly to specific advertisers) and/or programmatic advertising (i.e., auctioning off video ad inventory on ad exchange platforms).

The video ad formats are divided into two main categories: out-stream and in-stream video ads.

In-stream

In-stream lets you insert ad units within video content that’s already on your site or your YouTube channel. These ad units can be placed before (pre-roll), in the middle of (mid-roll), and/or after (post-roll) the main video content.

In-stream ad units can be in the standard format (i.e., the user has to view the entire ad before continuing) or skippable (i.e., the user can skip the ad after a certain amount of time has elapsed). Standard in-stream ads often get higher CPMs, however, skippable ads typically result in a better user experience.

If you don’t already have video content on your website, Snigel can provide you with syndicated content or create videos from your website’s existing content.

Out-stream

Out-stream is an advertisement-only format, meaning you don’t have to have any video content on your website. AdStream provides a variety of out-stream ad formats, including in-content, floating, sticky sidebar, banner, rewarded, and interstitial.

In Article vs In Article Sticky vs Sticky Sidebar

Customizable Ad Tech for a Highly Targeted Ad Strategy

To truly maximize display or video advertising, there’s a lot to consider:

  • How will your ad set up look different for users in different countries? For example, it may not make sense to use video ads for traffic from India since the internet connection is often too slow, however, you can usually earn high CPMs by displaying video ads for European traffic.
  • How often can you display video ads to a single user without compromising the user experience? Some target audiences will be very tolerant of video ads, so you’ll be able to run more of them. Other users will only tolerate a video ad once per day before they start to complain.
  • How will your ad setup look different on mobile devices vs. desktop? Users are often more willing to view video ads on desktop but may be more reluctant on mobile devices.
  • Are there certain times of the day, month, year, etc. that video ads will be more effective? For example, if you have a sports focused website, you may be able to display more video ads during a playoff weekend.
  • And much more.

Your ad stack should not only support all of these different functionalities (e.g., being able to run video ads only once per week per user), but it should also let you activate these functionalities in different contexts for the same piece of content (e.g., a different ad setup for mobile users vs. desktop users for the same page).

However, not all video ad platforms offer the necessary functionalities or the ability to implement different setups in different contexts for the same webpage.

On the other hand, Snigel provides advanced, AI-powered ad tech that can be fully customized to fit any scenario. 

Plus, you’ll have a dedicated ad ops specialist who will create, implement, and maintain an ad strategy designed to help you get the most out of your ad inventory while maintaining fast page load times and a great user experience.

Snigel’s Ad Stack

In addition to all of the video ad formats mentioned above (e.g., in-stream, out-stream), Snigel’s ad stack includes advanced targeting options, such as:

  • The option to limit the number of player impressions per user. After a certain number of impressions has been reached, the player will no longer load, which is essential for maintaining a good user experience.
  • AI bidder optimization. This feature allocates bidders to client- or server-side header bidding based on where they perform best and matches users with the best bidders for their country, device, and browser.
  • Dynamic floor pricing. Bid shading is technology used by advertisers that helps them predict the lowest CPM they need to offer in order to win the bid, which results in lower CPMs for publishers. Dynamic floor pricing combats bid shading by automatically adjusting floor prices every hour.
  • Adblock revenue recovery. Publishers often lose out on revenue when users have an ad blocker enabled. Adblock revenue recovery helps mitigate the issue by automatically switching between higher paying ads and adblock compliant ads based on the user’s settings.
  • Anti-malvertising, bot detection and blocking, and more. Security features like these help protect against malicious software attacks that negatively affect the user experience and compromise the integrity of your website.
  • AdConsent. AdConsent is Google-certified and IAB-registered and lets you easily comply with all data privacy regulations including GDPR and CCPA while also earning ad revenue from more of your website’s traffic.
  • And much more.

Snigel’s ad tech specialists implement, customize, and maintain the entire ad stack for you — you won’t need to learn any additional technical skills or hire a team of developers.

Bonus: Earn Higher CPMs from Your Display Ads

Some video ad providers focus almost exclusively on video ads. However, most publishers need a mix of video and display ads to maximize ad revenue.

Snigel also supports next gen display ad formats and features including:

  • Adaptive ads, which is used to fill ad space with whatever combination of ad sizes will return the highest revenue (e.g., one ad for $1.30 vs. two smaller ads for $0.75 each).
  • Super adhesive ads, which is used to display large ads in a smaller ad space (the ad moves within the ad unit while the user scrolls).
  • Interactive ad units, which is used to engage the user and increase the amount of time the user spends viewing the ad.
  • Smart refresh, which is used to display more ads within one ad space when certain event-based, time-based, or action-based triggers occur.
  • And much more.

You can test out Snigel on just 5–10% of your traffic without being locked into a contract.

To see how we can help you squeeze every dollar out of your ad inventory with video and/or display ads, get in touch for a free assessment.

2. Google AdSense (Ad Network)

Google AdSense homepage: We value your content

Google AdSense is known for monetizing display ads, however, they also offer video ad monetization. AdSense is one of the best ad networks for small websites because they have more lenient eligibility requirements than most ad exchanges or header bidding partners.

They’re also a good option for websites with a lot of traffic from Tier 3 GEOs because they tend to return higher CPMs than other solutions for Tier 3 GEOs. Finally, websites that have a CTR (click-through-rate) of 3% or higher may also benefit from AdSense because they give the option to be paid per click (CPC) or per ad impression.

All publishers have to do is install a snippet of code in the header of their website, and AdSense takes care of the rest. While it’s very easy to implement, AdSense doesn’t offer very many customization options, so you’ll be limited in what you can do.

To learn more, you can read these articles:

3. PubMatic (Ad Exchange)

PubMatic homepage: Who will win their fair share of commerce media?

PubMatic is both an ad exchange with a wide range of demand partners and a programmatic advertising solution for video. (They offer DSP solutions for advertisers to manage their ad campaigns, however, our focus is on solutions for publishers.) PubMatic focuses on private marketplace (PMP) deals, but they also offer real-time bidding (RTB).

Pubmatic offers a detailed analytics dashboard that allows you to view all private deals, real-time bidding metrics, how you compare to other publishers, and much more. Unlike other ad exchanges, Pubmatic doesn’t have a minimum traffic requirement for joining.

(You can also access PubMatic with Snigel.)

4. Chocolate Platform (Mobile Ads)

Chocolate Premium by Silverpush homepage: Worlds' First SSP with 100% Server-Side Auctions

Chocolate Platform is a video-only advertising platform with 100% server-side video ad auctions. They’re known for supporting high-quality mobile video ads, however, they also support digital advertising for websites and CTV.

With Chocolate Platform, all OTT advertising is conducted directly between ad servers.

They offer fullscreen, rewarded, native, and pre-roll video ad units.These ad units are clickable and give the user full control.

(You can also access Chocolate Platform with Snigel.)

5. AdPlayer.Pro (In-app Ads)

AdPlayer.Pro homepage: Fast & Flawless - Advanced outstream video advertising solutions driven by innovation

AdPlayer.Pro is an out-stream video monetization ecosystem that includes a white-label video ad server. They specialize in mobile app video ads, but they also support desktop and mobile web ads and AMP-specific ads. They support a variety of ad formats, including in-page, in-view, sticky, rewarded, and in-banner video ads. They also offer proactive account management.

AdPlayer.Pro offers volume-based pricing tiers starting at 0–10M impressions per month. They also offer a free trial of their services.

Snigel is a Google-Certified Publishing Partner for programmatic display and video advertising. Our custom approach leads to higher CPMs and a better user experience. Get in touch for a free assessment.

About the Author

Ira is Snigel's Head Of Marketing. She supports our team and publishers by creating awesome guides on the latest adtech trends. Ira's background is in software development, communications, and media.

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