How Jagran New Media doubled video ad revenue with a managed AdOps service
India’s leading publishing house used a managed video ad operations service to take control of their video ad inventory.
Jagran New Media, a leading publishing house in India, had a revenue problem. They’d been relying on ad networks to manage outstream video — mobile-only ads that appear on partner sites and apps outside of YouTube — on their websites.
“The video player was fully controlled by the ad networks and implemented on our sites as a 1×1 tag,” explained Dinesh Joshi, AVP & Head of Ad Monetization & Strategic Partnership at Jagran. “We experienced very high discrepancies between our ad server and the network ad server, which was a consistent issue.”
In his role, Joshi is responsible for all the programmatic revenue at Jagran. He wanted to increase video ad revenue by taking full control of Jagran’s video ad serving infrastructure.
A lack of transparency
Jagran runs and manages premium sites for news and current events, entertainment and education. The company has been ranked as publishing India’s largest-read daily newspaper for the last 21 rounds of the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) and stands as the number one Hindi news and information source in India.
Jagran was using multiple video players from various ad networks which caused a host of issues that ultimately impacted their ability to monetize video across their websites. These included:
- Late payment and payment disputes;
- A lack of revenue transparency;
- Discrepancies between ad networks and Jagran’s Google Ad Manager reports; and
- A loss of inventory caused by “passing back” between different players.
Lack of transparency meant that Joshi’s team didn’t know the actual prices that the networks were charging for Jagran’s inventory. Any drops in CPM that occurred were never satisfactorily explained to them. They were unable to fully align their own demand with the third-party player or control the ad server. This meant they had to rely on ad networks to do this (without receiving any real transparency throughout the process).
Jagran partnered with Aniview, a video ad player solution, to manage their AdOps needs internally.
Taking control of video ad inventory
Joshi spearheaded the pivot away from relying on third-party ad networks to gaining full control over how Jagran’s video ads inventory is sold. He headed up the process internally and ultimately took the proposal to senior management for approval by presenting a sensible business case.
“The first thing we did was compare our video ad revenue to our display ad revenue,” said Joshi. “We found it very lacking. Video CPMs are generally higher than display, yet the performances did not reflect that.”
There were other issues that frustrated Joshi’s team, including frequent revenue drops, which they hadn’t experienced with display ads. “We agreed to test the system for two to three months to gauge performance. We found the test very successful, and by that time the key decision makers were on board with the strategy,” explained Joshi.
Onboarding and support from a trusted partner
Joshi’s team didn’t have much experience deploying video players and operating video ad serving platforms, so they relied on Aniview for support during the initial stages of implementing and operating the system. This enabled Jagran’s ad ops people to learn and get up to speed at their own pace.
Said Joshi, “Even though it’s a very straightforward system to use manually, we preferred to utilize the Aniview team in the earlier stages so we could get the most out of the platform.”
Jagran began the initiative by testing the new system on one of their smaller websites. They ran the new protocol on the site for approximately one month, during which time they tested various player positions and the performance of different configurations.
“It was plug and play, so we did not have to change much of our current setup. We use Google Ad Manager and the player can be managed on the page as a 1X1 tag. For connecting our other advertisers and partners, it was just a matter of copying and pasting a URL or other pieces of information,” said Joshi.
Video revenues increase and transparency reigns supreme
Since taking their video ad serving in-house, Jagran’s video revenues have dramatically increased. Video ads have become a significant revenue generator for the company, with revenue doubling for ad spots on the in-house solution.
The standout metric for Joshi is transparency. “Before using Aniview, we received poor transparency, but never really understood the value that comes with having more clarity. We now realise how important it is. We’ve created significantly more video inventory and have lost far less traffic.”
Jagran had frequently encountered discrepancy problems with their video ad partners before implementing their ad player solution. Joshi noted that implementing the internal player eliminated virtually all of them. “I doubt any of these processes could have been improved without the transparency Aniview’s platform offers,” said Joshi.
Expanding video content and scaling growth
Jagran plans to expand the use of their own video content across their websites and continue growing their video business. “Now that we have an ad system we can manage and control, it is much easier for us to scale up,” said Joshi.
Looking back on the initiative, Joshi notes that he wouldn’t have changed their approach or done anything differently. They minimized risks in the early stages by testing only on a very small part of their operation.
When asked if he had any parting words of advice to businesses looking to take control of their video ad inventory, Joshi said, “I would advise publishers not to try and run too many video players. Choose one or two good partners, find a system you can control and log into from the backend. It will save you from many operational problems down the line in the long term. They say you either win or learn, and our previous experiences have, in a way, helped us now reach a much more effective solution.”