Is Online Sports Video Content an Ideal Draw for Local Ads?

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Rich Routman is a guest author. If you’d like to submit a guest post, click here.

Local has long been regarded as the sleeping giant of digital advertising; a sector seemingly waiting for someone else to develop the ideal solution to help advertisers capitalize on its massive potential. In recent years, the broader media conversations have moved toward mobile and social, which present great opportunities for reaching local consumers within desired markets.  However, despite the power of those platforms, video has proven to have the most upside for both consumers and brand marketers.

Newspapers, the most prominent location-oriented publishers, are coming around to video, with 88 percent of newspapers expecting digital video ad revenue to grow in 2012, according to eMarketer. With the U.S. audience engaging in 5 billion video sessions a month, it appears that video could finally heal what ails local advertising.

But video can sometimes suffer from the same problems that plague other locally focused media plans, including scale, brand safety, and a lack of television-quality content. Luckily, new solutions are addressing these concerns, transforming video into a powerful local ad vehicle.

Similarly, local news tends to have brand safety issues, with coverage by local TV affiliates skewing negatively, focusing on crime, fires, accidents and disasters. There is a saying in newsrooms that “if it bleeds, it leads.” It’s good for attracting page views, but brands buying video advertising often exhibit a laser-like focus on “premium” content that values a safe messaging environment as much as a captive audience.

Receiving access to both brand safety assurances and scale would require advertisers directly work with hundreds of publishers, forcing marketers to rely on buys through intermediaries to overcome this scale and scarcity issue. As a result, brand ad dollars enter the local market without transparency and the promise of brand safety. And while display networks have slightly overcome this challenge with filters that keep ads away from potentially damaging placements, video is far more challenging.

Scale is becoming less of an issue with local advertising, and sports video represents a solution to advertisers’ safety and content concerns.

Local media video alternatives — such as working with nascent video scanning technologies and/or buying specific content categories — provide more comfort to the ad community, but with such limitations and restrictions it is nearly impossible to achieve a scalable and efficient plan. One viable option with the potential to overcome the aforementioned hurdles, however, is authentic, licensed sports video content — a constant embodiment of brand-safe material.

Much like local news, sporting events happen every day, producing highlights and results on a nightly basis, providing a steady stream of hard-to-access content. The licensed content world is less rigid than traditional news coverage, where, with good reason, advertising and editorial teams tend to remain separate. For example, licensed content, whether it’s sports or other syndicated video, can empower advertisers to produce their own content, creating organic, more integrated advertising experiences that do not encumber the consumer with as many 15- and 30-second interruptions. Progressive advertisers, working with rights holders and distribution partners, can not only produce timely and localized content spotlighting a relevant team or conference, but can then also leverage multiple publishers within a given region to drive a scalable marketing platform. This type of opportunity simply is not possible in the world of local news.

Bottom line, sports video provides consumers and brands access to premium, fresh content on a daily basis. Market evolution has lead to the point where brands can work with a singular partner to achieve premium sports video scale, and in limited cases, without having to negotiate directly with the professional leagues or publisher networks. Video and more specifically, sports video have the capacity to wake up the local advertising giant so long as buyers force sellers to provide the necessary transparent and auditable placements in high quality environments. Scale is becoming less of an issue with local advertising, and sports video represents a solution to advertisers’ safety and content concerns.

Rich Routman is EVP and GM of SEASON, a division of Silver Chalice.

Image courtesy of Flickr User Keith Allison.

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