SAN FRANCISCO: In recent years, publishers have rushed to create video content that they can monetise using pre-roll ads, but such an approach is short-sighted according to Bleacher Report, which sees its video future being driven by sponsorships and branded integrations.

“It’s clear why pre-roll is attractive to advertisers,” Howard Mittman, CRO & CMO at Bleacher Report, told Ad Exchanger.

“Pre-roll is not the future of online advertising,” he stated, as he outlined how the sports-focused digital publisher has been removing ad units that could compromise the user experience and pulling pre-roll “where we feel it compromises the integrity of social distribution mechanisms that consumers want to use to experience that content”.

Instead, Bleacher Report is favouring an alternative strategy based around original content – such as Game of Zones and Gridiron Heights, two cartoons focused on the NBA and NFL respectively – which can attract major brands.

“That kind of storytelling, with the right balance of timely humor and sports-relevant content, and how we are able to bring brands like AT&T and PlayStation into that, makes a heck of a lot more sense than standard pre-roll,” Mittman said.

On top of this, such content also drives engagement – in terms of shares, likes, time of completion and organic views. “We don’t have to buy much social amplification,” Mittman noted. “The engagement story is what separates us and gives us a big leg up.”

Beyond that, the focus is on apps and social channels rather than the website. “Social content and branded content experiences are what drive and move millennial and Gen Z consumers,” he asserted.

“I think of the website today the way a luxury brand would think of a store on Rodeo Drive or Madison Avenue,” Mittman said.

“It’s got to be beautiful, spacious and represent your brand. But the revenue you can generate isn’t what it was ten years ago. It starts to lean more toward a branding exercise.”

Sourced from Ad Exchanger; additional content by WARC staff