How Time Inc. grew revenue with native video ad units

Yamini Gupta July 2018 Video, Programmatic

People love video. According to an eMarketer estimate, 2.15 billion people will have watched digital video content in 2017, and this number is only expected to grow in 2018.1 It’s no surprise then that advertisers have grown their video ad spending by more than 65% over the last two years.2

To capitalize on this trend and meet the growing demand for video ads, Time Inc. launched “Adapt,” a new proprietary ad unit that leverages Google Ad Manager’s native advertising solution to deliver outstream video ads across their owned-and-operated properties.

Video advertising used to be the exclusive domain of video content producers, with instream ads commanding the lion’s share of advertisers’ video budgets. However, outstream video (shown within text-based content) is gaining traction. So Time Inc. designed Adapt primarily as an outstream video ad unit to capitalize on this shift.

Time Inc. opted to design its own outstream video ad units instead of leveraging off-the-shelf solutions from existing ad tech providers, which allowed the company to be more thoughtful about the user experience across its properties while delivering premium video ads.

“We know that both users and advertisers are looking for video experiences that fit our content layout and are full-width across devices.”

“By building our own proprietary outstream format, we were able to leverage our knowledge of how users interact with our site to deliver an integrated experience for advertisers looking to engage audiences with video,” explains Ashley Allen, Time Inc.’s director of ad product solutions. “For example, we know that both users and advertisers are looking for video experiences that fit our content layout and are full-width across devices.”

Allen also notes, “This product creates a sustainable, repeatable solution that boosts video exposure on our properties. Google Ad Manager’s native solution gave us full creative control and flexibility to create a fully customized product suite.”

A key priority for the team was ensuring that Adapt would not only fit different content layouts across Time Inc.’s properties, but that it would also accept different types of advertiser assets, making it easier to scale advertiser campaigns.

With a flexible native advertising solution, Time Inc. can execute on its vision of delivering premium outstream video ads that seamlessly fit the environment they are presented in. And it’s easy for advertisers to use the Adapt format too. They simply provide Time Inc. with existing video assets or ad tags, and Google Ad Manager takes care of the rest, dynamically rendering the creative according to the Adapt template and business rules, and fitting the content across their different properties.

“We also wanted to capture all possible video revenue by supporting Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) tags so that advertisers could run a video campaign across both pre-roll and Adapt ad units using the same creative. This gave us access to a lot more advertiser demand,” Allen says.

“When you have the opportunity to quickly create more video inventory, you have to move fast.”

Once the design for these units was finalized, the team wanted to move fast. It took the engineering team just a week to build the ad template and another week to begin testing. Allen notes, “When you have the opportunity to quickly create more video inventory, you have to move fast. We announced Adapt at our NewFronts event in May and were excited to make it available to all of our advertising partners by July.”

Improved advertiser ROI and the future of Adapt

Adapt has been successful in not just opening up new advertiser video budgets for Time Inc., but also in delivering more value to advertisers. That’s because videos in Adapt ad units don’t start until they’re within view for users, increasing viewability.

As Allen explains, “We recognize that outstream placements are different than pre-roll, so we included functionality that would boost viewability and value for our advertisers. The ad does not start until more than 50% of pixels are in view, and pauses when less than 50% are in view. Completion rates are based on the ad always being in view.”

Given their early success, the Time Inc. team has already expanded the portfolio of Adapt units to include new formats like Adapt Video Stories, which is geared toward more content-driven advertising experiences.

“Adapt gives us the flexibility to meet the demands of our advertisers while responding to the behaviors of our audiences,” Allen says.

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