For Publishers - The Future is Elastic - Steve Rosenbaum - MediaBizBloggers

There are some times in your career when changes present themselves - and you can either sort them out or look the other way.

For me - the past ninety days have been a whirlwind as the worlds of brands, publishers, and ad networks have converged.

Let me explain.

In 2009 the ad business was in the crapper, so no one was worrying about much other than how to keep the lights on. Interestingly, we had 300% growth in 2009. It seemed that video, even if there wasn't yet a clear business model, was still something the publishers, brands, and ecommerce sites all agreed was the direction things were moving in. Our phone never stopped ringing. But - the model was elusive.

Then, 2010 arrived - and some set of changes converged to make video shift in to overdrive. Brands wanted to move more of their budgets on line. And Brands wanted to bring their video campaigns with them. For my media buying friends, the problem was pretty dicey. You see, there were a handful of 'quality' web sites that had enough video impressions to be meaningful. The bulk of the traffic on web was going to the big video warehouse sites. Yes, quality continues to rise on those sites for sure, but they remain big broad audience offerings without the quality, targeting, or demographic appeal of the growing publisher sites on the web.

Then, I started hearing from publishers - they were getting RFP's from big brands who wanted to buy video impressions on their sites. These were big brands, with big budgets, and they wanted to put down serious cash for pre-roll impressions. The problem was, for most publishers both in and outside of our network - the video they had on their site was embedded video. Video that had been sourced from the major sites, and then curated for their audiences needs. The human filtering combined with the quality and focus of the publisher sites made these videos an ideal way to solve an advertiser's problem. The only thing was, pre-roll was owned by the host (the video source) and pre-roll on publisher created video wasn't being created in large enough volume to be meaningful.

Choices to be made. Create and publish more video? The costs of building a video production operation where significant, and most publishers had been down that road before, with costly and painful memories from years past.

Magnify.net, with more than 70,000 sites on the network seemed somehow the ideal middle ground between publishers who've got the skills to source and organize and curate video and advertisers who want to be able to place campaigns on branded sites with human editorial and a focus on target audiences and quality.

So - with a need and a gut sense that that time was right - we set out to solve a problem and see if we could ad value. Quickly we were able to strike a deal with one of the larges video sites on the web, Metacafe.

"This is a big win for publishers who are seeking high quality entertainment-related video to complement their editorial content and deliver greater value to advertisers," Erick Hachenburg the CEO of Metacafe said when we announced the new service called "Elastic Inventory."

Of course, Erick is right- now publishers only need to purchase inventory that they have a buyer for... and enjoy earning and upside on the delta between wholesale and retail. It also means that Publishers get paid for adding value - not just providing eyeballs. Curation should result in a premium sale and now it does.

"It's also a major benefit for advertisers who want more access to premium video in contextually relevant editorial environment" Hachenberg explained.

Under the new program, Magnify.net customers will be able to search, aggregate, tag, and target collections of content, and then assign Dart DoubleClick, OAS or other ad tags that will target a campaign to the collection. Video can be sourced from multiple feeds including client produced, customer submitted, web aggregated and curated video. While embedding has become a significant driver of growth in video views, the video portals that provide the bulk of video content haven't seen an accompanying growth in revenue, until now.

Under Elastic Inventory Magnify.net customers will be able to search, aggregate, tag, and target collections of content, and then assign Dart DoubleClick, OAS or other ad tags that will target a campaign to the collection. Video can be sourced from multiple feeds including client produced, customer submitted, web aggregated and curated video.

Since the announcement last week, my phone has been ringing with advertisers, publishers, and video providers who want to respond to more RFP's from brands and agencies and get the right video pre-rolls in place.

There's no doubt there's a shift in demand for pre-roll to the Publisher, and this should be good news for sites, brands, and agencies alike.

Steve Rosenbaum is founder and CEO of Magnify.net, a NYC-based platform for Realtime Video Discovery and Curation. He has been building and growing consumer-content businesses since 1992. He was the creator and Executive Producer of MTV UNfiltered, a series that was the first commercial application of user-generated video in commercial TV. Steve can be contacted at steve@magnify.net Follow Steve Rosenbaum on Twitter: www.twitter.com/magnify

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