OpenX to ban user-unfriendly video advertising format

Ad tech provider, OpenX, has just announced that the company is planning to ban certain video ad formats from its exchange. These will include the 300×250 ad unit, which the company says was among the most prolific video ad units, but provided a bad experience for consumers and advertisers.

The 300×250 is sub-standard because the size does not match to any standard video ad size and consists almost exclusively of in-banner video – a video ad stuffed into a banner ad that is then sold as in-stream video or mislabeled as out-stream.

“Video is a rapidly growing part of the programmatic ecosystem, and as the medium matures, the industry needs to constantly stay ahead of format variations to ensure brands, publishers and consumers experience the highest quality video engagement,” said John Murphy, head of marketplace quality, OpenX. “Quality has always been a priority at OpenX, and this step confirms our conclusion that this ad unit has no place in any advertising exchange that values quality. Put simply, it is an ad unit that should be stopped in its tracks.”

As part of a joint research study with Pixalate, OpenX confirmed that the 300×250 video unit accounted for 30% of all programmatic video sales. However, its invalid traffic rates were almost a third higher than the average of all other programmatic video ad units.

“Video ad quality is paramount in today’s programmatic marketplace,” said Jalal Nasir, CEO of Pixalate. “We applaud OpenX for taking a stand, backed by data-driven analysis, to improve the overall quality of the programmatic video ecosystem. We encourage others to take similar steps in a bid to improve quality across the board.”

In-banner video ad units proliferated due to ad sellers and networks reselling the ads as “video ad units”. The problem with this was that brands were billed for a higher video CPM, but the video ads resulted in a bad user experience. Ultimately, this had a negative effect on brand ROI.

In a separate assessment by OpenX of 300×250 video ad units, the company also found that the format was 80% less viewable compared to other video ad sizes. It was 98% less likely to be entirely visible.

Jason Fairchild, co-founder, OpenX, explained:

“Quality is a choice. Whether it is choosing to work only with TAG certified companies, or limiting ad buys to ads.txt approved partners, or, as in the case of video, choosing to work with partners that will put the interests of the entire ecosystem above short-term gain, we must expect every player in digital advertising to make quality and value central pillars of their business.”