IRIS.TV for Brands: Guaranteeing Branded Content Distribution at Scale

by | Mar 9, 2018 | Video, Video Programming Insights

By Field Garthwaite, CEO & Co-Founder, IRIS.TV

The Backstory: How we developed a new format of native video advertising

Since starting IRIS.TV in 2013, our goal has always been to make a better video viewing experience for our clients and their viewers. Hundreds of broadcasters and publishers use our machine-learning to automate the programming of personalized streams of video on their sites and apps. The value to our clients such as CBS, Time Inc. and Gannett has been an average 70% increase in monthly video views (and pre-roll ad inventory).

Now that we’ve programmed billions of video streams, we’ve learned quite a bit about how users behave with content. Specifically, what makes for a great user experience and keeps audiences watching.



We’ve found that the biggest cause of bounce from video streams are the ad events—specifically pre-roll. We’ve all experienced seeing the same ad over and over again. It is common when publishers close a large deal and need to hit big reach/frequency goals. The downside is that it can ruin the experience of watching the content we want to see. We see that on average, over 80% of viewers bounce during pre-roll events. That means publishers are left with 20% of an audience to actually engage with their video content.

Over 80% of viewers bounce during pre-roll events.

We’ve been working with our clients on strategies to reduce that initial bounce rate so we can have more users to engage with personalized playlists. In addition to experimenting with different ad frequencies, many of our clients have worked with brands to create video campaigns.

In 2016 we released Campaign Manager, a programming tool that inserts a sponsored video into a personalized playlist of editorial content. Previously, the publisher would create a branded landing page with a dedicated video player and/or distribute the asset on social media. The branded landing page has a scale ceiling as it requires investment in traffic acquisition as users don’t organically engage landing pages. Facebook and YouTube are fraught with brand safety issues (more on this below). With Campaign Manager, every video player becomes a potential entry-point for branded content. By treating branded videos as content, not pre-roll, our technology knows when and under what context to serve the branded campaign in a playlist.

“IRIS.TV Campaign Manager™ is easy to use and quick to implement. Upon launch, we saw an instant lift in our branded video campaigns. With the ability to distribute branded content in-stream to our viewers, we not only meet our guarantees, but also maintain our high editorial standards and continue to provide our users with highest quality user experience. We also now have unique prescriptive data on our campaigns, which has enabled us to make smarter strategic decisions.”

Michael Palmer, GM The Hollywood Reporter & Billboard Media Group

Branded content placed in-stream guarantees brand safety for advertisers.

We learned that when branded video is smartly placed in-stream, it can often outperform editorial content. This is because these videos have high production quality and are served to users in context. Branded content placed in-stream provides a better user experience for audiences and diversifies the ad experience with a new format. The diversity of ad experience helps limit showing repetitive pre-roll. It also keeps viewers engaged and primed to watch more videos on that site—aligning the publisher’s and marketer’s interest around creating a great user experience.

“Branded content when placed in-stream can outperform editorial content”

After helping our publisher clients successfully program their directly sourced branded campaigns, we were asked by other publishers if we could help them connect with marketers and brands who need distribution of their branded content. With that, IRIS.TV for Brands was born.

To achieve reach and frequency goals, most brands and agencies have turned to YouTube and Facebook to distribute their videos and branded content. The main issue with these platforms is the lack of editorial oversight. The walled gardens have brand safety issues based on the way that their algorithms have been designed—even premium publishers/MCNs on those platforms cannot necessarily guarantee brand safety.

Here is how IRIS.TV for Brands compares to other forms of video advertising in the market

IRIS.TV does not have these issues because our algorithms were designed from inception to be a smart content server. We combine the efficiencies of automation with the security of editorial oversight. That’s why the world’s largest broadcasters and publishers trust IRIS.TV to program content to hundreds of millions of users around the world.

When a marketer engages IRIS.TV for Brands for their branded content campaigns, the user is already on a premium publisher site watching video. Instead of always seeing a pre-roll followed by the next piece of content, some viewers will be served a branded video. Viewers can skip the video if they don’t want to watch it, but if they stay engaged with the branded content past a certain amount of time, then the publisher is paid on a CPV basis.

This is a solution for top brands to reach the audiences they want at both scale and guaranteed brand safety. That is something that Facebook and YouTube cannot claim and it’s why we’re seeing rapid growth of this new format.