ValueClick Launches In-Stream Video Network

There’s no denying online video is ripe for monetization through more pervasive in-stream advertising, and today’s public beta launch of same across the ValueClick Media network is yet another signal. Following the footsteps of ad network competitors like Advertising.com and 24/7 Real Media, the firm is now allowing its publishers to provide pre- and post-roll video, display and rich media ads to advertisers. ValueClick will also target video spots based on previous user behavior.

A quarter of the 13,500 publishers in the network currently have video content on their sites, said ValueClick Media GM David Yovanno. The company expects that number to double in Q1 of next year, he added. “We realized we needed to work with our publishers about advertising opportunities that might come out of that,” he said.

About 150 publishers are set to serve up video ads from more than 100 advertisers through the system, Yovanno told ClickZ News. The platform enables pre-roll and post-roll video in addition to static graphical images served directly within the video player before and after content plays. Advertiser verticals the network typically sells to, including telecom, pharmaceutical, consumer electronics and automotive have all experimented through the video network, he continued.

Post-roll display ads, said JupiterResearch Analyst Emily Riley, will be especially appealing to direct response advertisers that “before would be completely shut out” of video advertising since publishers don’t want users clicking away from their sites before viewing their content.

Though she thinks the video ad product is “a good move” for ValueClick, Riley cautioned video inventory is “somewhat limited” on many of the network’s sites, which are smaller non-portal publishers. She added, “Even if you have video content, in many cases it’s by far less traffic than the homepage of your site.”

Buying video ads through such a network, though, could broaden reach and ease the process for advertisers that find purchasing video directly on several smaller sites too labor intensive. “They can aggregate so many disparate sites that might offer small amounts of video,” said Riley.

The network will provide original, repurposed, syndicated and user-generated video content, allowing advertisers to buy site-by-site as well as on a portfolio, channel, reach and marketplace basis. Advertisers can block ads from being served in CGM video, according to Yovanno. “We clear that up front in the media planning stage,” he added.

ValueClick will enable its behavioral targeting and optimization technologies for the video ads, in addition to frequency capping and other types of targeting. At first, ads will be sold on a CPM basis only, but the company anticipates offering performance-based buys in the future. “As we get more skilled at managing this unit, we’ll be able to offer more performance-based [ads],” Yovanno said.

AOL’s Advertising.com can also target video ads based on user behavior; however, said Aimee Irwin, the firm’s video ad network VP, “It’s technically possible, but because of scale…we don’t tend to do it.” The network, which has been combined with Lightningcast‘s video network since also being acquired by AOL, usually targets video spots contextually, demographically, and by site. “Those are primarily where advertiser demands are these days,” added Irwin.

“I would definitely think we’ll be competing with Advertising.com in the market,” said Yovanno.

24/7 Real Media partnered last October with video network Roo to serve up in-stream ads. Other services like rich media vendor Eyewonder and video distribution firm Brightcove also offer ad networks.

ValueClick developed its video serving technology specifically for the new offering. Because the firm represents a variety of video inventory across a diverse mix of publishers, Yovanno said the company didn’t think available technologies would be appropriate to integrate with its platform. The new product lets publishers serve ads in videos displayed through Windows Media Player, Apple Quicktime and Macromedia Flash.

Now that more and more networks are offering in-stream ads, said Jupiter’s Riley, “It’s a matter of how to categorize the content….It’s a big project.”

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