Interactive Advertising Bureau
20 July 2023

Member Guest Blog with Taboola: Video Ad Dollars Under The Microscope - The Quest for Supply Path Transparency


In this week’s member guest blog post we caught up with Nadav Perry, VP Global Brands & Agencies at Taboola. In this all-inclusive piece Nadav looks at supply path transparency in video ads. For more on what he thinks are the key challenges and how we can move past them, keep reading.


If you’re in the advertising world, you’re probably familiar with the quote widely attributed to US Retail Magnate John Wanamaker who claimed that; “Half my advertising spend is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” 

Surprisingly, in the digital advertising world of 2023 despite all the technology advancements, attribution capabilities and ability to measure almost every step of the supply path, this quote is not only still valid, it’s a major pain point for most advertisers. In fact, the digital distance between advertisers and their end customers is not showing any signs of shrinking and many are still unable to account for much of their spend across the media supply path.

Supply Path Optimisation (SPO) is a daily challenge for media buyers trying to streamline and monitor their media supply path. The question of what exactly is the nature of what they’re buying remains unanswered for even the most savvy advertiser. But how can you optimise if you don’t even have visibility into the supply path? Supply Path Authenticity - transparency around where and how ad dollars are being spent - is crucial for media buyers looking to reduce costs, improve performance and maintain quality.

One example of this phenomenon is video advertising. Traditionally, video ad placements on the open internet were divided between instream and outstream. Instream was widely regarded as a more desirable type of ad content because of the expected user experience and intent to watch. Without definitive guidelines, many video ad platforms classified their video ads as instream when in fact they’re far from it, and in many cases it’s hard to tell if users are even paying them any attention. 

Every advertiser dreams of the ultimate video experience - brand safe, viewable, users with high intent… But the reality is supply that’s very diverse, with varying formats, characteristics, settings and environments, makes it hard for advertisers and media agencies to know exactly what they’re getting.  

In an effort to help advertisers better understand what they’re spending their video ad dollars on, add transparency to the supply chain and improve user experience, IAB TechLab released updated guidelines for new definitions of video ad placements. The new guidelines define ‘instream’ as “Pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ads that are played before, during or after the streaming video content that the consumer has requested. Instream video must be set to “sound on” by default at player start, or have explicitly clear user intent to watch the video content. While there may be other content surrounding the player, the video content must be the focus of the user’s visit”

We’re already seeing a shift in the balance between instream and outstream with advertisers pushing for adoption of these new guidelines. In fact, with the updated definition, only 10% of video content is expected to be classified as instream. 

The remaining 90% of video content will be classified in a number of tiers of outstream and for many video advertising platforms this means a significant change having classified their video content as instream regardless of whether it was ever watched. Not only will they not be able to call their video placements ‘instream’ anymore or have access to advertising demand that proactively targeted instream supply - they will not be able to charge advertisers a higher premium for it.

But for some video advertising platforms the change is a welcome one - companies like Taboola who have focused mainly on outstream. Not all outstream is created equal and Taboola has spent recent years perfecting the tech and know-how to provide outstream video that drives business results. Unlike most platforms, Taboola’s unique technology powers the organic, editorial and advertiser experience on publisher sites which means direct access to the page on which the video ad is played. The result is sophisticated contextual and audience-based data providing advertisers with advanced context and targeting capabilities, placement on the world’s top publisher sites and brand safety. In other words - Premium Outstream. 

Moreover, in a recent study, Kantar found that Taboola native outstream videos increased user awareness, favourability and engagement. Among others, the study showed that more people watched the whole ad in both the social and streaming platform after also being exposed to native ads. And more viewers enabled audio on the social platform after they were exposed to native ads.

In the video advertising supply path, experts agree that IAB TechLab’s updated guidelines will create a much smaller video advertising tier of ‘true instream’ but they will also take advertisers one step further in their understanding of outstream supply and their ability to see beyond the general in and out stream definition, focusing on other attributes that give video placements true value. 

The evolution of video advertising is far from over but with these new guidelines, media buyers have better visibility and transparency when it comes to where they’re spending their video dollars and what they’re really getting for them. While many media agencies are trying to promote SPO initiatives, some market leaders are ready to go beyond SPO and start tackling SPA (Supply Path Authenticity) where the question of video supply authenticity will no longer be left unanswered. 


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