Navigating the Evolving Video Landscape: Challenges and Trends for Publishers in 2023

Navigating the Evolving Video Landscape: Challenges and Trends for Publishers in 2023
This article was previously published by Digiday and summarizes the Digiday Publishing Summit panel moderated by Maayan Segal, VP of Clients at Primis, with panelists Scott Solomon, VP of DV+ Platform at Magnite, and Matt Burgess, SVP of Revenue Operations at Freestar. 


2023 has been off to a busy start. With an influx in conferences, new regulations, and specifications, ad tech will be seeing industry-wide changes. When it comes to video, publishers should be on the lookout for a few key topics and obstacles that will most likely be prevalent throughout the year. The big question for many of us in the ad tech space will be how to navigate the changes this new year is bringing and optimize our successes.


Managing Competing Forces

Publishers are always balancing between user experience and monetization and looking to maximize their revenue to its full potential. One of the critical ways of ensuring success this year will be maintaining a favorable position in supply and demand. Total digital ad spending will grow by 10.5% this year, but not all publishers are experiencing the benefits of this growth. Video inventory isn’t seeing growth at the same rate as ad spending, and some publishers are missing out on potential revenue as a result. 


For publishers, monetization and user experience are the two most important things; matching ad monetization with native content will be one of the ways publishers can make both a priority, without sacrificing the other. Finding the right combination between the two is what serves best. Quality content and optimizing the right mix between player size and viewability are key. Finding a partner who delivers accurate and consistent reports will give the greatest overall yield.


The New New: Instream vs. Outstream

A majorly hot topic in the world of video is the new video specifications. IAB Tech Lab’s new definitions will affect the video revenue of every publisher. When the previous definitions were established in August, the criteria of what constituted as instream was narrowed, and about 90% of the video supply that would’ve otherwise been considered instream video, was categorized as outstream inventory. Many buyers only buy inventory classified as instream, so this reclassification became a threat to publisher revenue. This also left companies in a grey area, who didn’t quite feel that their inventory fell into either one of the existing definitions. Ad tech companies such as Primis and CafeMedia struggled in this in-between to understand where their inventory fit. Primis developed Primis Next, a video discovery technology built to serve relevant content to users. The innovation is nonintrusive and allows users to watch content on autoplay without sound, enabling the users to choose if they want to “stay” on the video or press “next” to skip to the upcoming video. The August definitions labeled this kind of inventory as outstream, placing it in the same category as other products that do not run alongside content.


One of the biggest changes of 2023 is the recent release of new definitions to better address the variety of video formats that exist. The new specifications will add a layer of transparency to the programmatic supply chain and help marketers purchase video inventory more efficiently and accurately. While this change is a net positive, publishers and exchanges will have to prepare their resources to shift their strategies in response. The cost of instream video is sure to rise as a result of the new specifications, putting it at a premium level above the rest.


SPO & Efficiency

Supply path optimization (SPO) is already important and becoming increasingly critical to publishers, but it means something different to every company. Many companies have been investing heavily in SPO for years already. SPO is not a one size fits all. Companies that evaluate their needs, know how to ebb and flow in this evolving landscape, and adjust their strategies accordingly are the ones that thrive. Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. 


The challenge in SPO for publishers is evaluating the bang for their buck. Every organization on either end of the ad tech supply chain measures its efficiency by understanding what makes them achieve its goals faster, cheaper, and better. Though working with intermediaries might not be the most direct route from point A to point B, if they optimize processes, add valuable services or products, or maximize potential revenue, it is better to add a few more links to your path rather than sacrifice them for a shortcut. Aiming for the most direct path while ensuring every member of the supply path brings value is the ultimate goal. 


Looking to the Future 

The digital video landscape is evolving without a doubt, but one thing is certain: video is here to stay. The changing standards and technological innovations on the horizon will be challenging to navigate but will present publishers with new opportunities. All of these changes, along with the massive growth of CTV view time will present an opportunity of strengthening the supply chain while still giving users the video experience they love. From closed gardens to the open web, video has been on the rise and will continue to be a prosperous revenue stream for publishers this year.