Youth media brand Vice is evolving its ad network AdVice to become a premium content ecosystem for brands as part of its strategy to help publishers’ better monetise and co-create “high impact” digital advertising.
The media brand, which represents over 200 publishers and reaches more than 150m young adults globally, has kicked off an integrated strategy which, in time, will see it open its production facilities to publishers that don’t have the resources to create their own premium-quality video inventory.
It already syndicates its own video content across its publisher network and has now extended this so its partners can use its white label video player to run their own videos across the global network, which Vice will then monetise.
The final phase of its strategy will comprise encouraging rights holders including major TV production companies, to view the ecosystem as an additional platform to YouTube to distribute content, and one which could deliver better returns because it is a “premium and controlled” environment, according to AdVice Europe’s general manager Dan’l Hewitt.
He told The Drum the aim is to create the “next generation” audience ad network, which can help itself and other publishers generate better revenue from video content, while supporting the creation of branded content - a more engaging ad format than traditional digital ads, according to Hewitt.
“YouTube is a necessary platform to be on for scale and driving traffic, but the economics are challenging when it comes to creating premium quality video. Google’s performance-driven ad formats, like TrueView, don’t support the creation of premium content at scale,” he said.
Hewitt believes there is an urgent need for publishers to look beyond traditional display ad formats, which don’t deliver robust revenues, towards more engaging, co-created branded content formats.
“There is huge fragmentation in the market and returns for display media are diminishing because traditional digital ad formats are commoditised. There are so many of them, which is why real-time bidding (RTB) and demand-side platforms can offer such good solutions at scale for advertisers. But this doesn’t help us as publishers as the return is decreasing.”
Hewitt believes the three “stakeholders” in the digital ad experience – the consumer, advertiser and publisher are all losing out as a result of people ignoring ads.
“There is an element of banner blindness with users on the internet. That’s why we are big supporters of higher impact formats and the IAB’s rising stars formats. Video pre-roll is still holding its market value because there isn’t enough supply for the demand.
“As a media company we ultimately want to get brands to understand that by funding the story in the first place rather than being the intrusive layer at the start of the content is a much more relevant place to be – be the creator not the interrupter of the creative,” he said.
Branded content revenue is “significant” according to Vice Media and it now wants to encourage and support other publishers to use these formats over traditional digital ad formats.
“Many publishers are not even changing their ad formats but relying still on redundant, commoditised products like MPUs and leader boards. It makes sense that RTB environments are able to optimise that inventory because users aren’t engaging with it. So if that’s how you want to spend your money then fine – but for the higher impact formats if you want to be more targeted you need to think about where the ad sits contextually…and in doing so the effectiveness of the media rises,” he said.
Vice, which owns brands including music channel Noisey, Thump and The Creators Project, will use retargeting technology to hone the effectiveness of its content network.
"All this retargeting technology is real and works – the problem is it is being used terribly by many brands who send ads that relate to what a person has just seen on their site. All those retargeting technologies, while incredibly clever, are being bastardised.
“It obviously delivers returns or they wouldn’t be spending but they are not looking at what damage that does to their brands. That tech can be used in a more creative way that we don’t see a lot of happening right now,” said Hewitt.
Vice Media will use retargeting to notify its audience of forthcoming content they have previously watched. Sometimes people will watch the first episode of a documentary series but then forget to watch the later episodes, but Vice could use retargeting technology to send them alerts to the next episode, according to Hewitt.
Vice's publisher network includes The Poke, Idol Magazine, The Quietus and Sharemyplaylists.
Vice Films recently worked with Grolsch Films Works to create a film called The Fourth Dimension (see above Trailer), starring Val Kilmer. The films was made in three parts, created by three different filmmakers. Harmony Korine (US), Alexsei Fedorchenko (Russia) and Jan Kwiecinski (Poland) who were each tasked by VICE's Eddy Moretti to create a 30-minute short, shooting in their native countries while exploring the idea of a "fourth dimension".