3 Tips from our experts to help ad funded media owners weather the COVID-19 pandemic

There are lots of reports being released right now about how marketers and agencies are pausing and potentially pulling back digital ad spend over the next two quarters as they assess and respond to the full impact of COVID-19.

Although it is a temporary pause and already there is light being spotted at the end of the tunnel, what can video publishers do now to weather this storm?

Here are 3 tactics from the experts at Watching That that you can do today.

#1 Temporarily retreat to Click To Play players 

Cameron, Founder/CEO

It’s time to fall back to just click to play players, pause auto play experiences that result in low yields and high costs.

In the past auto play players were seen as a great convenience for viewers and a sure fire way of increasing both video views and high yielding advertising returns.

For ad supported video businesses this was the pinnacle of their ambitions. 

It has meant that all business growth models are driven by increasing more views so you can sell more ads.

Even before the pandemic there were head winds emerging for this growth strategy.  Browser policies, ad quality coalitions and 3rd party verification vendors were all questioning the value of this type of inventory.

Now, with COVID-19 putting tremendous pressure on the P&Ls of advertising based publishers, pulling back from auto-play experiences temporarily could increase the media owner’s short terms profits.

Be prepared to lower video view targets with this tactic. This is a quality over quantity objective.

#2 Ensure priority publishing of videos that are known to drive advertising returns

Caroline, Customer Success Expert

When it comes to advertising, not every view is equal.  Far from it.  And in this time of extreme volatility, really understanding how your content choices effects your monetisation outcomes is crucial to retaining full control and certainty over your situation.

We recently supplied fill rate performance data to a Wall Street Journal article that shows just how big of a shock many publishers have experienced over the last few weeks.

Fill rate graph published in the WSJ article showing a significant drop in fill rate across the globe

But the story is not so catastrophic as it might first appear.  The fill rates here were driven lower, not because of less ad impressions being delivered but because many more views were generated against content that might normally be deemed unsafe.

Look deeper and you’ll see that some videos still perform very well with the advertising money that is still available.  The question is which of your videos deliver the biggest returns and can you do more of them?

If you can, determine the fill rate of individual videos, or commonly used tags, to really understand the correlation and link between your editorial.

Example of having fill rate and video views side by side for each video

Use those correlations as input into your editorial decisioning process.  If you’re trying to choose between 100 videos to publish, try and find those 10 you know will drive advertising return and do those first.

#3 Run daily checks and assessments on your buyer performance and be ready to act quickly

Morgan, Customer Success Expert

I run daily checks for many of our customers to ensure minor changes in system and ad buyer behaviour don’t lead to big problems for their businesses.

In today’s world things are changing very rapidly.  So it’s even more important (if that’s possible) to stay on top of the ebb and flow of your publishing and monetisation setup.

By monitoring buyer performance to a high degree of detail you’re able to reverse engineer their buying strategies and, to an extent, how much they might have in the tank. 

Example of an alert to signal action to be taken to remediate a drop in buyer demandPublishers and media owners have lots of knobs and levels they can adjust at any time to optimise performance.  But knowing what to twist when and what to move where requires staying on top of all the twitches and fidgets of your setup.

You’ll also need to adopt a very experimental approach – don’t be afraid to try new things, especially now.  Just make sure you’re properly wired up to monitor for any change to give you confidence that you can move fast.

For a baseline I recommend you monitor your buying partners daily across:

  • fill rate by floor prices
  • fill rate by ad unit, placement, video content and device type 
  • error rate and, more importantly, errors split by description/cause

You’ll want to continuously measure this list over a 7 day moving average, at the very least – if you can go longer than do so. 

Alarms should be set for thresholds of about 35% change in either direction.

And a resolution path and protocol designed and ready. 

For example, one of our premium customers will be notified after a 35% swing in any daily partner behaviour.  That notice will be sent immediately to the right operations team with all the context required to describe the change, the cause and the remedial action to take.

The net result is quick action that leads to a fast return to normal operating levels and a minimal to no loss in revenue.