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A Quick Guide to Programmatic Video Ads

The demand for engaging video content is on the rise. Consumers are expected to watch 100 minutes of video content daily by 2021. Short videos are easier to digest compared with long pages of text, and as a result, video advertising is quickly becoming the most popular ad format in digital advertising today.

Still, having a powerful, engaging video asset is just the first piece of the puzzle. How do you get that amazing content in front of your target audience and get it seen, quickly and efficiently? Enter programmatic video advertising.

We’ve put together a quick guide on programmatic video advertising: what it is, why marketers like to use it as part of their cross-channel marketing plan, the different types of video ads available, and other things to consider before getting started.

What Is Programmatic Video Advertising?

Programmatic video advertising works similarly to programmatic display advertising. As the name suggests, instead of real-time buying and selling of display banner ads, marketers buy video ad inventory instead. While it is already prevalent and mainstream, programmatic ad spending on video content is projected to increase to over $40 billion by 2021.

Once you define your target audience and outline a budget, you can go directly to a demand side platform (DSP) to buy your ad space. Or, you can work with an agency or trading desk — like AUDIENCEX — to work on your behalf. The important thing to remember is that this happens quickly — hence the term “real-time” in Real Time Bidding (RTB). You also need technology to make the buys happen — in other words, buying programmatically instead of going directly to a particular publisher and negotiating an insertion order.

What Are the Benefits of Programmatic Video Advertising?

  • Speed: Machines are highly efficient in ensuring that your ad is in front of the right person who fits your ideal client profile. When it comes to reporting, you have access to metrics in real-time. You can see how your ads are performing and who they are reaching as soon as you launch a campaign. If something isn’t working, you can adjust mid-campaign to boost the effectiveness of your advertising.
  • Efficiency: With live reporting comes the ability to improve in real-time, too. Programmatic Video Advertising reduces ad waste, allowing you to target only interested parties. If an ad is catching the interest of specific segments, you can optimize its targeting to reach them. This ability allows you to spend your advertising budget most effectively. This significantly enhances conversion rates while simultaneously reducing the cost per acquisition.
  • Targeted: Since you can build the specific audience profile you are trying to reach, your amazing video ads will effectively reach a super-specific audience.
  • Cross-channel: Thanks to programmatic advertising, you can now serve ads on desktop, mobile, and TV. Reach your audience members across channels and place ads within videos, social media, or mobile phone games.
  • Transparency: You will dictate the parameters of buying ads, and you can make adjustments in real-time at any point in the campaigns. It’s not tedious or time-consuming since it eradicates the need for re-negotiations. Further, you see exactly what sites your ads reach, and who is looking at the ads. You can also view your ad spend in real time. It’s never been easier to make data-informed decisions.
  • No social skills required: Since the algorithm takes care of all the work, you don’t have to invest time or effort to construct relationships with sales teams or buyers. All you have to do is set your campaign parameters and let the tech do its job.
  • Price: Programmatic advertising is fast and cheaper than going directly to a particular publisher. The prices will vary based on how specific your audiences are and how competitive that target is.

What Are The Challenges to Programmatic Video?

Like all good things, programmatic video advertising can have certain disadvantages.

  • Fraud: As with all digital marketing tactics, ad fraud can be a problem. Make sure the partner you are working with is taking steps to alleviate any possible fraud. You’ll want to have an honest conversation about viewability metrics. Programmatic platforms that verify the legitimacy of sites can boost the effectiveness of your ad spend.
  • Data quality: Data quality is an ongoing issue in the programmatic industry. Talk to your partner about the source of the data you access to make sure it is reliable and accurate. Your partner should provide useful data and reporting while complying with the ever-changing privacy landscape.
  • Technical requirements: Efficient implementation calls for technical resources to keep errors and page load times in check, especially when it comes to bulkier video content. AdTech requires having the appropriate technology on hand to deliver successful campaigns.
  • Brand safety: The automatic nature of programmatic advertising can sometimes lead to a video appearing next to questionable content. Advertising on a news story about a tragic event can seem insensitive. Some sites or controversial figures can create unwanted associations with your brand. Ensure brand safety by working with a partner that offers transparency in ad placement. Artificial intelligence and advanced tools can simplify this process significantly.

Types of Video Ads


Instream videos make your video content adaptable to the environment by playing along with them. If you’ve ever watched a video on YouTube, you’ve probably seen instream ads. Within the instream category, you can break down the types further:

  • Pre-roll: These can be the ads that you play before you start a video.
  • Mid-roll: These ads interrupt your streaming.
  • Post-roll: Yep, you guessed it – these are the ones that appear right at the end of the video you watched.

Pre-roll videos are the most expensive and have the highest viewability for advertisers trying to get their ads seen. Because the viewer is already committed to watching the video that plays after the ad, they will generally stick around until the ad is over or skip it.


While instream videos appear within video content, outstream videos exist outside of online video content. Instead, they live on a webpage and usually appear in a text break between paragraphs. The advantage to outstream video here is that the inventory for them is much greater since they don’t only occur in places where there is existing video content. Here are a few ways to implement outstream videos:

  • In-banner: In-banner video ads are just that – videos that play inside a banner ad. Because there is no time limitation, they tend to be longer than other formats and can be auto-played without sound. While they could considerably skew the page layout since they aren’t user-initiated, you don’t need a video player or content to try them.
  • Interactive video ads: Interactive video ads enable user interaction, and can be used on mobile phones, tablets, and desktops. They allow users to interact with or choose the content in some way. Interactive ads tend to drive higher retention rates and conversions, offer unique in-ad data, and enhance LTV and brand awareness.
  • In-game ads: Game developers often use this monetization strategy to increase their game’s revenue. These deliver the highest CPMs as they are integrated into the game loop directly. They can appear as offer wall ads, rewarded ads, or interstitial ads. The ads being a component of the game economy forms a part of the user experience.

Programmatic Video Metrics to Measure

To understand how your video ads perform, start with some objectives, and measure metrics related to your goals. Here are the most informative metrics to look at:

  • View count: Perhaps the most manageable number to wrap your head around is the raw number of views a video receives. The view count doesn’t mean every viewer has watched the ad all the way through. Instead, each platform will count one view after a viewer watches for a set number of seconds. View count essentially measures reach. It’s vital when your goal is to increase brand awareness. For more in-depth analysis, it’s helpful to use more metrics in conjunction with view count.
  • Click-through rate: This metric measures an ad’s ability to encourage further action. It indicates the percentage of your audience that clicks on the CTA link included in the ad. Since a CTA usually appears at the end of a video, consider this metric alongside engagement.
  • Engagement: Higher engagement correlates with longer watch times. Engagement is measured as the percentage of the video each viewer watched. It can be useful for retargeting since you can target viewers who have watched a portion of your first ad. Average engagement can help you understand the point where most viewers are dropping off.
  • Play rate: For video ads that don’t autoplay, the play rate is the measurement of people who click “play” and watch an ad. This metric is critical since it indicates people who are interested in the topic. It can measure your ads’ compatibility with a particular platform and the success of your title or thumbnail. Note that a specialized topic video will have a lower play rate than one with broad appeal.
  • Conversion rate: The conversion rate measures the number of leads generated through an ad. The metric lists the percentage of people who fill out a contact form, subscribe, or make a purchase. Conversion is generally harder to track since many factors influence it. The video ad may simply encourage a viewer to learn more, or it may be the last step in a long path to taking action.

Programmatic Video Best Practices

No doubt, video ads are picking up steam as one of the best ways to engage your audience. As they become more prevalent, some trends have emerged for how to use the medium best. Here are a few tips to ensure high-quality video ads that engage your audience:

  • Use your logo: Dropping in your logo within the first 10 seconds increases brand recognition and engagement.
  • Catch viewers’ interest: The first few seconds of a video is prime real estate since most viewers skip ads. Drawing your audience in right away is crucial to increasing watch time. Using emotion, targeting the right people, and telling a story are all effective methods to engage viewers.
  • Create a seamless CTA: Let your viewer know what to do next by creating a customized and clear call to action. Ensure the landing page is consistent and tailored to match the video that links to it.
  • Design for mute: According to a recent survey, 83% of U.S. consumers watch videos with no sound. The number jumps to 92% on mobile devices. Using captions, expressive body language, and a visually exciting video are crucial for video ads.
  • Optimize for mobile: While you might create content on a desktop, most people will view it on their phones. Use the correct aspect ratios for the intended platform and try vertical orientation to take up more of the screen. Further, the landing page should be easy to navigate on mobile.


Are you looking for help with your programmatic video campaigns? AUDIENCEX runs thousands of programmatic campaigns of every format, including video, on behalf of marketers and agencies. We can take care of both the creative and programmatic sides for stunning content that gets noticed.

With tdX, you can access more than 24 DSPs through our trading desk for the best performance and reach possible for all your video advertising. Besides working with multiple DSPs, we also work with platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook to help you achieve an omnichannel video campaign.

Contact us to talk with one of our campaign strategists to learn more about how we can help you deliver high-performance video ads.

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