Advertisers looking to expand into new channels can do a lot worse than investing in video. The cost and buy-in for video production is a thousand times lower now than it was a decade ago, with commonplace HD cameras in every smartphone, quick and easy video editing apps on every platform, and the skill necessary to use them just a few tutorials away.
Once you’ve decided to embark on a quest of video advertising, though, you need to figure out where to advertise. Sure, you can just dump your videos on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram, but those aren’t video advertising networks. They work, but they aren’t specialized. What you should actually do is invest in a couple of specific ad networks to test different audiences.
What I’ve done is compiled 20 different video ad networks that have floated to the top as the leaders in the industry. All of them will work, so it’s up to you to pick a few and invest. Run a small, simple budget with your ads and see how the audiences respond. Ideally, you’ll find great groups of people and get more than your money’s worth in return.
When you’re vetting a video ad network, you should look at a few different factors to determine if it’s worth your time.
Of course, nothing beats an experiment. Set up a basic budget and run some ads to see how they do. Limit your investment until you’ve proven your success.
Rather than take up a third of this list with various social networks, I’ll just put them here under one banner. Pretty much every social network today offers some video advertising, and many of them have a good selection of targeting options and a broad audience to work with. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all do video ads quite well. YouTube, of course, works directly with Google Ads. Pinterest and Snapchat are also good options to consider.
This ad network is focused primarily on mobile games. The mobile game industry is huge, with everything from industry giants like King’s games, Hearthstone, and Fortnite to the massive swaths of Chinese shovelware. Mobile game ads tend to fall into two categories; videos and interactive ads. Videos showcasing games can be extremely compelling, and this ad network has a huge audience ready to go for your mobile app ads.
This is one of the largest mobile ad networks in the world, with an audience of over 1.4 billion users worldwide. They have a variety of different ad formats, including instant play video, end cards, display videos, and rich media. They’ve also worked with a huge array of different brands, from FX and UFC to Jack in the Box and Hilton. You can see galleries and examples of their ads before you even register.
Vungle is one of the fastest growing mobile video ad companies out there. Right now they’re in a great place to invest, and it’s quite possible that there will be some beneficial changes coming down the pipe in the next couple years. Vungle is, as of this writing, being purchased for somewhere north of $750 million by the private equity firm Blackstone. With this kind of backing, the sky is the limit for a network like Vungle.
Verizon, being one of the world’s largest telecom giants, has fingers in pretty much every pie they can reach. It should come as no surprise that you can run video advertising with them as well.
Verizon’s advertising arm is Oath, a brand which you might recognize if you’ve paid attention to online advertising over the last few years. Oath is a company Verizon uses to head up their media wing, and includes AOL’s advertising network, Yahoo’s advertising platform, and all that entails. This includes advertising on Tumblr, the network formerly known as Brightroll, and several others.
This video advertising network isn’t entirely focused on mobile, but rather takes a cross-platform unified approach. Through them, you can run a singular ad campaign that stretches across devices and media types, including display advertising, mobile advertising, and even TV commercial spots. They have both self-service and managed campaigns, and their audience is top-notch. Definitely worth giving them a look.
Hulu is a household name by now, rivaling Netflix and Amazon’s video service. They have 65 million viewers watching ads with their videos, so their audience is pretty significant and engaged. With an average age of 32, you’re reaching primarily millennials with the variety of different ad formats and buying methods. Overall, you can do a lot worse than something like Hulu with your advertising money.
All the big-name video advertising platforms have been bought up by major brands looking to acquire a foot in the door. Tube Mogul was one such network, and their platform was pretty great. Don’t let the past tense fool you; they’re still around, they’re just operating under the banner of the Adobe Advertising Cloud. Their ads operate across channels and with excellent, detailed analytics and targeting. Adobe’s cloud services are quite solid, so I’d recommend anyone giving this platform a look.
It almost feels like cheating adding this network to the list, because they acquired Rhythm One not too long ago, giving them an even broader reach than they already had. Still, the two remain mostly separate, so you can use Tremor at the same time if you want. They have a lot of tech backing up their network, with contextual advertising, social reach, television, and placements all over the world. They also have very detailed targeting options, including unique geo-behavioral options.
Undertone is a large premium ad network that works with clients ranging from Audi and Disney to smaller brands the world over. They have a wide range of ad units, including unique digital canvases. They’re constantly pushing the cutting edge of digital advertising, with unique technology and broad targeting options to play with. Their goal is synchronization; making sure all elements of your ad campaigns are on the same page. They’re definitely one of the largest networks on this list, but if you can meet their requirements, they’re an excellent choice.
SpotX is another great ad network, though they’re a managed services provider, which means they require you to apply and meet their standards before you can run ads on their network. They have custom targeting, strategic planning, and programmatic buying and management that can bring in incredible returns on investment. The application process is simple, but they’re pretty strict about what they accept, so don’t be too disappointed if they don’t let you in right away.
Chocolate is another one of those “new” ad networks that is made up of the remnants of other networks they bought up. Vdopia, for example, is part of the new Chocolate network. They have a marketplace made up of both publishers and advertisers, where you can manually or programmatically purchase your advertising. They’re designed to scale with your business as you grow, and work with a range of different mobile video ad formats.
You may recognize the name Conversant from discussions of affiliate marketing, where CJ Affiliate is on of the top names. Conversant is the company behind CJ Affiliate ever since they bought Commission Junction. Currently, Conversant has been purchased by Publicis Groupe, so much like Vungle, this is a network to watch moving forward. Given that they already work with big name brands like Cabela’s, Urban Outfitters, and GoDaddy, there’s a ton of potential here.
Say specializes in “making ads people want to see”. Now, I’m always skeptical of claims like that, since the ads are only as good as the people creating them, but it can’t be denied that Say Media is a pretty great platform. They have full page ads, an alternative to banners, branded content, and a whole lot more. Since their focus is on content rather than on the call to action, you often find excellent stories and a great placement for video ads.
Exponential is a relatively old at network and hasn’t been acquired by another firm, which is always a good sign; they have the legs to stand on their own. Much like other modern networks, they specialize in cross-platform unified ads that sync up campaigns between mobile, desktop, and tablet advertising. Their audience is significant and their engagement rates are pretty good, so it’s a good network to dig into.
Amobee is another ad network made up of the devoured scraps of other ad networks, mashed together to make something new and, more importantly, larger. They cover TV, digital marketing, and social media all in one platform, making it great for pretty much every device and audience you could want. As for their constituent parts, Amobee is made up of Adconion, Kontera, and some other components.
AppNexus is an advertising platform with a huge, open and transparent marketplace. You can advertise on a wide variety of platforms and devices, with different styles of content and media, including video. Their video inventory in particular is excellent, with unique video options, programmatic targeting, and a flexible path for purchasing your inventory.
Rubicon Project is a global ad network with video and other advertising options. You can purchase ads in pretty much any region with thousands of publishers. They have a three-step process to verify your advertising, which ensures a minimum of low quality or spammy, disingenuous, or dangerous ads. Additionally, they have a bunch of different tools and automation options to help enhance and manage your advertising.
In operation since 2013, Aerserv has partnered or joined with InMobi to form a huge video and app-based advertising network. They have robust ad inventory management, great mobile targeting and implementation, programmatic buying, and optimization through varying means with real time data. They also provide a dedicated support team to answer questions and help with advertising at any time.
Unruly is an interesting ad network in that they’re driven not just by engagement, but by sentiment. Their ad optimization is powered by emotional data in addition to other standard factors. Their network has a global audience of 1.2 billion people, with brand-safe premium sites at the forefront of the network. If you’re interested in something a little outside the box, Unruly is an incredible experiment.
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