A Marketer’s Roadmap to the Most Promising Video Advertising Platforms

by Sargi Mann, VP/Director Search Marketing, Carat USA

Sargi Mann

As marketers consider how to allocate their marketing and media dollars heading into the next upfronts, the current market indicates that we can move full speed ahead into all things video. According to eMarketer, the digital video market is expected to grow 39% in 2014 and online video advertising at 29% through 2016. Millennial audiences’ migration from traditional TV to Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon Prime, further emphasizes the need for marketers and agencies to adopt video.

While there are some unresolved issues around video advertising (availability/scale, content quality, media weight, price point and unrated inventory), marketers don’t need to forgo TV; rather, they can diversify video investments to complement TV. As the video industry continues to attract interest and more companies go public, keep an eye on the video advertising platform companies below – they could be the key to delivering hyper targeted, highly effective ads and less waste.

AOL Adap.TV: Last August, AOL acquired Adap.tv for $405 million, causing quite a stir in the industry with the stock AOL put on the product offering and future potential from Adap.tv. Adap.tv’s video intelligence platform, Pathway, allows brands, agencies, publishers and ad networks to plan, buy and measure billions of video ad trades programmatically every month across web, linear TV and mobile video. The most recent milestone for the company was introducing linear TV to its ad buying platform. While the platform can adopt a combination of technologies to create a customized solution, the strongest growth isn’t coming from the presumed number one in technology in this space.

Rubicon Project: This platform wants to be the NASDAQ for the advertising industry. Their advertising automation cloud is a machine-learning algorithm that makes approximately 300 data-driven decisions per transaction and can execute up to 2.1 million peak queries per second. That’s roughly 3 trillion bid requests per month. According to the S-1 statement filing the platform used more than 700 of the world’s premium publishers and applications to transact with over 100,000 advertising brands globally.

The company has differentiated is core offering to be an “advertising automation cloud” instead of a “programmatic” player going for a more global, flexible and real-time brand position. Rubicon Project handles $1.2 billion in online advertising and $450 million in media buying every year. With a 48% revenue growth year over year, 96% reach in Internet users in the U.S. and over 550 million Internet users globally, Rubicon Project is certainly one of the strongest in the pack.

TubeMogul: Founded in 2006, TubeMogul has gone through its share of transitions to define itself, starting out as a video analytics entity, then positioning itself as a Demand Side Platform (DSP) and now finally as a software-as-a-service player for video. Today it’s a strong contender in the online video landscape. The platform is available via two-product offering: self-serve and service based. Both product offerings include standard TV industry metrics such as Gross Reach Points (GRPs) and audience verification via Nielsen reporting (making it easy for seasoned marketers to adopt) as well as a suite of brand safety technologies. The growing competition, stronger technologies, heavy reliance on agency sourced revenue and a history of losses might not make TubeMogul the top player in video, but they do have quite a strong product suite and vast experience in the category.

YuMe: An ability to offer digital video advertising across different screen types, and a continued focus on staying ahead of consumer trends, positions YuMe is one of the top contenders in the online video category. The platform facilitates digital video advertising by dynamically matching relevant audiences available through their network of digital media property partners with appropriate advertising campaigns. With over 257 million monthly unique viewers worldwide, and 155 million in the U.S. in May 2013, YuMe’s customer base contains 64 of the top 100 U.S. advertisers.

Other features make YuMe a big competitor for Rubicon Project, including: an ability to deliver across interconnected platforms for all screen types; Audience Amplifier technology that protects against a potential loss of cookies; and Placement Quality Index (PQI) that uses data algorithms to assess the quality of ad placements and optimize placements to maximize brand advertising results. YuMe is delivering better than the other companies due to a well-differentiated, sound and scalable platform.

BrightRoll: Often considered among the top two video ad platforms in ads served, BrightRoll provides digital video advertising for some of the largest brands across the globe, including more than 80 of the top 100 U.S. advertisers and 18 of the top 20 ad tech companies. It enables advertisers to reach four in five video viewers online, and provides buyers with enhanced usability, advanced features and real-time access to more than 17 billion video ad impressions monthly across web, mobile and connected TV. One of the key wins for BrightRoll came in Q3 2013 when Kellogg selected it as its video advertising platform partner.

Spot Xchange: Spot Xchange has been busy ramping up its performance in digital video ad-tech space since 2007. In its 2013 financial results announcement, the CEO reported a 70% revenue growth in Q4 and 46% of overall revenue accounting through programmatic. Mobile represented the fastest growth segment with roughly 1 billion impressions served in Q4 globally through their programmatic buying. A 238% increase in monthly unique visitors between in 2013, coupled with strong revenue growth, makes Spot Xchange one of the front-runners in programmatic video space.

RocketFuel: One of the first to go public in the online video ad-tech space, RocketFuel has developed an Artificial Intelligence and Big Data-driven predictive modeling and automated decision-making platform that autonomously adapts and learns while solving multiple problems. According to its S-1 filing statement, the platform simultaneously runs over 1,000 campaigns for advertisers with highly diverse goals. It can certainly handle large amounts of data at a fast pace – the technology bids on billions of impressions each day, in approximately 100 milliseconds per bid request. With a 154% annual growth rate, RocketFuel is definitely set to be one of the leading players in video advertising.

The growing channels, data points, convergent consumer habits and globally scalable opportunities require adjustment in real-time or cloud-based auction capabilities for all media. Many are concerned, cautious and even skeptical at times, but the market is still evolving. Those who tap into this trend sooner rather than later will get in before the marketplace sees higher price points, limited quality inventory and competitive disadvantage in future.