Publishers are taking more control of the tech that runs on their owned and operated sites to improve user experience and monetization. Sports publisher GiveMeSport said software updates were causing its third-party video player to miss key performance metrics like viewability, increases in latency and loading errors, leading the publisher to miss out on ad calls.

GiveMeSport decided to build its own video player, and four weeks in, said it has seen a “significant” increase in revenue, without giving detail.

Dean Drury, head of product at GiveMeSport, said viewability has gone up from 78 percent to 85 percent, while completion rate has gone up from 65 percent to 72 percent. Latency has also improved by five seconds. GiveMeSport runs a click-to-play video with sound on every article page.

Publishers may be reluctant to build their own video player for fear of steep development and staff costs. It only took two staffers two months, as a side project, to build and test GiveMeSport’s customized version. Drury and one other developer used freely code from Google’s video ad support resources. The MailOnline, with a hefty team of developers, also built its own player, said Drury, who previously worked as director of ad operations at the news publisher.

GiveMeSport serves 30 million video impressions a month in the U.K. It sells half on private marketplaces and the open exchange and the other half are sold direct. The publisher’s programmatic revenue is typically split in half between the open exchange and PMPs. In August, PMP deals made up 92 percent of its revenue due to the improved metrics.

According to the publisher, it got higher rates on the inventory it sold on the open exchange than on the PMP deals, due to scarcity and stronger performance. Along with selling more ads at a higher yield than on the open exchange, the new player has reduced rendering and video player errors by 10 percent, so the publisher could monetize inventory it had previously missed out on.

Ryan Skeggs, gm at GiveMeSport, wouldn’t share revenue details but said these factors combined led to a “significant” increase in revenue and new business. He said one advertiser, which he wouldn’t name, negotiated a six-month programmatic guaranteed campaign based on the improved metrics.

Viewability for video is becoming more of a must-have than a nice-to-have metric, while GiveMeSport’s completion rate — where more emphasis is being put by publishers — is impressive, said Suri Patel, group account director at MullenLowe Mediahub. “These figures do suggest higher engagement in a world of ad fatigue and attention deficit. Where consumer engagement goes, client brand building budgets are sure to follow. And advertisers are willing to pay a premium on premium in a world of ad bombardment.”

Publishers building tech in-house can improve the user experience, but there are risks. “There are a lot of things that can break, from pulling the content through to making sure the ads are served,” said Luc Benyon, head of marketing at video platform Video Intelligence.

For GiveMeSport, being able to spot and act on anomalies in key metrics while campaigns are live was important. “You lose the support function, but you maintain the control,” said Drury. “It was a brave decision, but a fruitful one.”

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