As advertisers get ready for a massive $15.4 billion spend on video ads in 2018, text-based publishers are readying to pivot to video.

Publishers that traditionally promoted text, banner, and out-stream video ads with their text content are now looking to produce video content – and monetize it with pre-, mid-, and post-roll video ads.

While some publications are pivoting to video because they want to explore video journalism, the main push behind the move is the advertising spend that’s increasingly going into the digital video ad format.

Why video ads are king

The video advertising trend picked up rapidly in 2017 with 83% of advertisers increasing their digital video advertising budgets.

The digital video advertising spend is expected to hit the 22.18 billion mark in the US alone by 2021. One of the driving forces behind this is better returns, with their average click-through rate being higher than that of traditional display advertising.

As eMarketer notes: “Video is the only subcategory of display ad spending that is growing, as rich media, banner ads and sponsorship all shrink.

publications pivot to video advertising

How much publishers can expect to earn from video advertising

Typically, CPM (cost-per-thousand-views) earnings from video ads are significantly higher than display advertising. But looking at the bigger video ad monetization picture, there are two main costs to consider:

  • The ad revenue share platforms like YouTube and Facebook take. Most publishers use these platforms to distribute their video content. Each time an ad runs in a video played via these platforms they take a cut. One video exec explained that while video on the publisher’s own site can command a $70 CPM, on Facebook and YouTube, the effective ad rate drops to around $20 (source).
  • The cost for producing quality video content. You need videos to create an in-stream video opportunity, and production costs are high.

Despite these two factors, more and more publishers are starting to offer video content – as not doing so would mean missing the video ad revenue stream completely.

Top publications that have already pivoted to video

Many of the world’s more “read” publications have already taken their first steps to becoming the most “viewed” ones:

publications pivot to video

Mic’s pivot to video

Visual journalism already makes up 75% of the time that our audiences spend with Mic,” Mic’s CEO and co-founder, Chris Altchek wrote in his internal memo explaining Mic’s pivot to video.

“As new platforms emerge and existing platforms continue to grow, we believe this will become a dominant form of news consumption. Our strategy to realign our resources behind this new market of ‘tap stories,’ in which we are already winning, will set us apart. In addition, we remain confident about our ability to succeed with extensions into the premium video space and already see strong traction with those efforts.”

Fox Sports’ pivot to video

Supporting its pivot to video move, Fox Sports national president Jamie Horowitz stated that two main reasons behind the move were its audience’s “growing appetite for premium video” and the advertisers’ needs.

“Today, we are announcing a plan to put the editorial strength and technical infrastructure of FOX Sports fully behind digital video. We will be shifting our resources and business model away from written content and instead focus on our fans’ growing appetite for premium video across all platforms.”

MTV News’ pivot to video

MTV based its pivot to video on “people’s media consumption habits.”

“While we’re proud of the longform editorial work from the past two years, we’re returning the editorial operation to its roots of amplifying the audiences’ voices and shifting resources into short-form video content more in line with young people’s media consumption habits.”

Vocativ’s pivot to video

Vocativ called its pivot to video “the most important strategic shift“ for its business since its inception.

“Today, we are announcing that Vocativ will shift to an all-video format. We are tripling our investment in video and establishing a dedicated unit to create compelling video content, from mini docs to docu-series and feature-length films.”

Huffington Post’s Pivot to Video

Huffington Post’s founder Arianna Huffington mentioned how “the universe of platforms where people engage with video is expanding exponentially” when talking about Huffington Post’s pivot to video.

“The changes we’re making will position us to be the dominant global media company in video in this ever-changing media environment. They will allow us to create video tailor-made for various platforms, whether it’s Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, or whatever may come next…”

pivot to video

The key pivot to video challenge for traditional text-based publishers

The publications listed above are all well-established brands with lots of resource at their disposal; enough to maintain video production studios of their own. Many of them are already known for producing great video content, and some even have Emmy nominations.

So the first challenge most small publishers face when pivoting to video is creating quality video content. The cost factor of producing and updating quality video content is significantly higher than that of creating and maintaining text content. As this video producer tells Digiday:

“The yardstick has always been dollars per minute. It’s obviously nowhere near the level of cable, but we’re still spending hundreds to thousands of dollars per minute per video. You can bring the cost down based on some formats and where you’re shooting and producing, but that really is the baseline for us.”

“Videos take longer. Between pre-production, production, editing, one of our daily YouTube videos can take days to make. We have writers, researchers, fact-checkers, shooters, video editors on staff.”

Besides, videos are only good when they’re evergreen. Creating video stories that age quickly is inefficient.

An easy way for traditional publishers to monetize from video ads without producing video content

In the literal sense, pivoting to video means creating more (or just) video content. But creating meaningful video content needs investment and a video content-first strategy.

Despite the emerging pivot to video trend, mainstream text publishers like The New York Times have still not slowed down on their articles or long-form journalism. They know the value of the written word to their readers.

So if you don’t have a budget for producing premium video content and your readers visit your publication to read your content (rather than watch), going all out for video isn’t an option for you.

Instead of pivoting to video and replacing written content with video content, the best solution is to complement articles with rich and relevant video clips. Users enjoy video that enhances their experience, and it creates a valuable opportunity to serve advertising.

You can even avoid the cost of producing these video clips by sourcing them from some best-in-class video content producers.

choosing an SSP

The key to making money by pivoting to video: choosing the right SSP

Even if you’re a text publisher who doesn’t see video becoming your central content offering, you can still add videos to your content mix. And you can do so without the overhead of producing video content.

All you need to do is find a provider that can help you source and add relevant contextual videos to your content and run ads in them.

A product like vi stories lets you embed relevant videos into your content — from a vast library with content from producers like Reuters, Los Angeles Times, ITN, EuroNews and more — and run contextual in-stream video ads in them.

How it works:

vi’s machine learning engine analyses keywords on a content page and matches it with the video content library. It then sources the most relevant videos and ads from its content and advertiser partners and adds them to your website.

Because vi has access to a vast library, you’ll always have relevant, topical videos to run, no matter what your niche is.

So what’s your pivot to video plan? If you’ve any questions about how your publication can pivot to video, email us, or message us on twitter or facebook.