Insider video ad revenue grows from onsite, direct-sold deals


Insider’s video strategy shift to focus on longer form series seems to be paying off.


  • Revenue from video ads on Insider’s site is up 71% year over year
  • Direct-sold video ad revenue grew 45% year over year
  • Number of advertisers who bought Insider’s video inventory directly is up 40% this year over 2021
  • Insider now gets more revenue from on-site videos than from YouTube partner sales
  • On-site video ad inventory is integrated with Insider’s first party data platform SAGA

Insider is making more money than last year from its videos on its website and is seeing particular growth from direct-sold video ads, where advertisers commit to spend a certain amount and buy ads across Insider’s owned & operated and other platforms like YouTube.

Revenue coming from video ads on Insider’s site grew 71% year over year, according to the company, which did not provide exact figures for this story. On-site video revenue surpassed the amount Insider was making through YouTube partner sales, a shift that began at the beginning of this year. Revenue from direct-sold video ads increased 45% year over year, said Maggie Milnamow, Insider’s CRO. Insider had a 40% increase in the number of advertisers who bought its video inventory directly this year compared to 2021, a spokesperson said.

Milnamow and two other Insider executives Digiday spoke with declined to share raw revenue figures and declined to disclose what share of the company’s overall video advertising revenue comes from direct-sold ads. An Insider spokesperson said the share has “grown significantly” year over year. Ad spend from new advertisers and renewals are both growing “at about the same level,” they added. Insider’s recent video advertisers include Chase Marriott, Indeed and Lenovo.

For about a year now, all of Insider’s on-site video ad inventory has been integrated with the company’s first party data platform SAGA for video ad targeting based on audience behavior (for example, Insider can serve videos about 5G to audiences it knows have expressed interest in 5G stories). Insider sells a mixture of pre-roll ads, sponsorships and custom content like branded video series.

These capabilities — as well as improvements to Insider’s video production and onsite product features — can help convince clients to spend more with a publisher, said Stacey Stewart, U.S. chief marketplace officer at ad agency UM Worldwide.

Insider is taking ‘bigger bets’ on video

Insider’s on-site video — especially longer videos — is performing better in part due to improved production quality, user interface design and engagement tools that made it easier for videos to be discovered and surfaced next to relevant content, Milnamow said.

Tony Manfred, head of video for Insider, said the video team was reorganized in the past two years to focus on producing about a dozen longform video series, instead of short one-offs. Shows mainly focus on news, lifestyle and business, including “So Expensive,” “World Wide Waste” and “Deep Cleaned.” Episodes tend to be about five to 10 minutes long, though some are as long as 20 minutes in a mini documentary-style format. New episodes are typically published two to four times a month. Insider’s largest viewership is on YouTube, where the company has 28 million subscribers across its channels, and 60% of their audience is under 35 years old.

“When you are getting into making longer videos, you are taking bigger bets because each episode takes a longer time to produce and more resources. So you kind of need to pick your bets. In the last year, we’ve really looked at what we want to do and have keyed in on our most successful formats and shows,” Manfred said. 

External pressures on Insider’s video business

Insider’s video efforts have not been immune to the shifting marketing budgets and platforms’ changing priorities this year.

What we’re trying to do as a publisher is just be as easy as we can to work with, given what’s going on in the world.
Maggie Milnamow, CRO, Insider

Facebook, for example, was paying Business Insider to produce a few shows through a news video initiative for its Watch tab that began in June 2018. The program was shut down this summer.

But that change “hasn’t impacted us a ton,” Manfred said, either with Insider’s video strategy or revenue. “We go into those deals with our eyes wide open and we try to do those deals knowing that if there’s funding involved, it should be a bridge to something that can be sustainable on its own.”

Marketers have faced a number of challenges due to economic headwinds, and as a result advertisers looking to spend in video want flexible, customizable deals, Stewart said. “Clients are hesitant to commit dollars they can’t get out of at the end of the day,” she said.

Milnamow said Insider has not received a notable number of video ad deal cancellations, especially with branded content. Milnamow also did not say exactly how many had canceled.

“Just like everyone else, we’ve had clients move, shift, downsize with deals that were committed. What we’re trying to do as a publisher is just be as easy as we can to work with, given what’s going on in the world,” she said.

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