Why Publishers Need to be in a TV State of Mind

Content publishers that also do business in the TV realm often face a challenge when it comes to distributing their TV content on the Web, according to Brian Mandelbaum, founder of video ad platform Clearstream. Digiday interviewed Mandelbaum regarding this publisher dilemma, and he provided thoughts on ways that publishers can get around this problem. He suggests creating made-for-online content.

How are publishers like the Food Network getting hurt by online video?
The problem really has to do with their approach to advertisers. Online video is a pervasive and lucrative way of delivering high-quality content to an engaged audience. The problem with video is that is actually easier to produce than written content. Aggregators like YouTube, Blinkx and MetaCafe make it incredibly easy to discover video outside of your standard premium-publishing environments, and the content is coming from thousands of disparate sources. Certain food-related “channels” on YouTube can command larger sustained audiences in a given month than Food Network could carry.

Are the cable operators to blame?
It’s a broader discussion that has to do with the agreements in place with the cable operators. Their job is to keep the produced content in the cable domain, and it is treated on a case-by-case basis. Shifting or syndicating content to places like YouTube means shifting the need for audiences on TV or at the .com level. It’s a catch 22, YouTube would certainly deliver the eyeballs at a lower price as a result of low transparency but compensate by delivering the audience. Not to mention, you are sharing revenue with Google.

How can publishers address this problem?
Creating unique content that can live outside the “network” walls or partnering with content creators and curators can extend the reach of their audience. Great quality video content exists beyond what you see on TV. [There are] technologies [that] let advertisers objectively asses video quality and deliver transparency and insight into the content. Understanding the content unlocks the value for marketers, allowing them to safely spend beyond TV-network programming by investing in online platforms.

What are some other challenges that publishers are facing in the online space?
Publishers see many challenges when selling video that’s firmly based on delivering the audience. Publishers and resellers, like ad networks, for example, are using the law of averages to sell to advertisers. That means there are winners and there are losers. There is a need to de-average the pricing set. Place value on content and context, as well as the audience. This gets closer to TV-like transparency and thus will drive advertiser demand and move the pricing needle.


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