The Kubient Blog

Let's Get Real About In Banner Video

By Chris Francia | 2017-07-24

We all know it exists and we all know it isn’t very good quality. For those not familiar with it, In Banner video is the process of placing a video player into a display ad unit to generate video advertisements. On the surface this seems harmless, but in truth it is one of the most dangerous practices in the industry. The reason is simple: it degrades user experience and takes revenue away from publishers.

We recently had a conversation with a large website operator we have known for years. Their website generates millions of unique visitors a month and relies on advertising to pay the bills. At the time they only ran display ad units and didn’t feel they were ready to begin implementing video solutions. Imagine our surprise when a few months later we noticed their domain coming through an advertising network on our video exchange. Curious to see if the status quo had changed with them, we reached out. They said they had never heard of the company that was sending us their traffic, and that they had no video units on the site. So together we dug deeper and learned that the video ad being sold from them to us was through an AdSense display unit on their sidebar.

Once we were able to understand how we received the video request, the next logical question was how much they were receiving for it from AdSense. $0.50 per one thousand impressions (CPM), that was the amount being paid, and what was more, AdSense didn’t show it as a video advertisement but as a regular display ad. Our friend lost his breath when we told him our network partner was selling that ad space for $8, a 1600% difference!

How is this possible? The answer is sadly too simple: third party networks use Javascript creatives to inject video players into these display units. In Google’s case, they trick Google into thinking this is a standard display ad and then once on the page they proceed to generate a video player and resell the inventory. Most do not buy directly through Google either, because AdSense, by default, enables third party access to your site. Many of these networks purchase the inventory through intermediaries who don’t properly screen the units.

To add insult to injury, these units are usually written with shoddy code that causes massive delays in page loads and other ad unit renderings, harming user experience and preventing other revenue opportunities.

So why are we talking about this? Frankly, because we are tired of it. We are tired of the general acceptance of it by too many companies in this industry who are only looking to make a quick buck and move on. We are tired of advertisers having the wool pulled over their eyes paying premium dollars for low quality ad spaces. We are tired of having multiple video ads running in every display slot jamming up our computers and draining our mobile bandwidth. We are tired of the industry trying to make video operate the same way as display--it can’t, it won’t, so please please just stop.

We at Kubient believe in a different way forward a way that treats video as the behemoth that it is. One video ad unit per page, no bait and switch tactics, and transparency across the board. The publisher has a right to know how people are purchasing their inventory. They work hard to make that content, and should have complete control over who gets to buy it and for how much. Advertisers should pay a fair value on their ads and know what it is they are buying. On top of that, we believe in variable video ad serving, where we serve ads optimized based on the device and connection speed of the user. Lower bandwidth, faster processing, better results.

If you are a publisher, advertiser or network who feels the same way, reach out to us--we would love to work with you.

P.S. If you have seen this problem on your site and want to stop in banner buyers, contact us for a free consultation.