Video Syndication Then and Now: An Industry Legacy By Default


It’s 10 p.m. – do you know where your video content is?

Traditional video syndication has left the web a veritable minefield for brands trying to find an audience for their videos. It’s an archaic practice in an age where a reputable video appearing on an inappropriate website (or next to questionable content) could spell a PR disaster for the unwitting video owner.

Historically, videos have been distributed via an MRSS feed to publishers, with absolutely no transparency or control for the video owners. Think of the MRSS feed as one of your teenage kids saying he or she is going out to a movie. It’s a great idea in concept, and you’d like to believe them, you really would, but how will you know where they ended up without tracking them? And what unscrupulous persons have they inadvertently been exposed to?

We’ve been seeing a similar scenario like this for years in traditional video syndication. A big brand video publisher like IDG or Bloomberg distributes their MRSS feed to reputable publishers, only to find their video appearing on the types of websites they would never deal with and their audiences would never, ever visit.

Smaller content owners might have used “distribution networks” to syndicate their video. You would hand them your feed to ingest and all of the videos would be transported into another system. Once there, the videos were distributed into the ether; you had no idea where they were appearing or how they were being used – or by whom.

The unscrupulous publisher doesn’t care about the reputation of the content owner. They’re just looking to get their hands on whatever video they can, to draw people to their site, to sell more ads, and to grab whatever premium video dollars are available.

Once a screenshot of a big brand video appears on a website from the wrong side of the tracks, the controversy-hungry social media sphere loves nothing more, and the premium brand is left scrambling to explain just how and why it got there. Why would a skin care company advertise on a website that promotes dog fighting?  What business does a financial services company have advertising on a site that preys on consumers with predatory payday loans?

The company is as unable to formulate a satisfactory response as they are to identify how the video wound up out of their control and in an objective place.  Righteous bloggers and mainstream media grab hold of the story, and even if the brand can get the video removed, the damage is done.

Brands have always known of this risk, but found there was nothing they could do about it, outside of pulling the videos from everyone, despite the harm to your reputable publishers who are using the same videos. Many big brands have been handing out the same MRSS feeds for years, knowing they have absolutely no control over where their video ends up. It’s an unacceptable risk.

Real-time, programmatic syndication gives brands insight into how publishers interact with videos outside their network, but more importantly, it solves for transparency and returns to the video owner the control that is required if syndication is to realize its potential online.

In a single SaaS interface, video content owners can now syndicate to thousands of publishers and actually see each and every place their videos appear. Part of that control is the ability to turn off the tap to a specific publisher if their site, for any reason, is not a place their advertiser wants to appear. It could be that the publisher site carries flat-out inappropriate content, but it also might be a simple case of misalignment with the advertiser’s goals.

In any case, a programmatic video syndication exchange platform gives back the transparency and control the archaic traditional syndication networks took away from brand video publishers. Companies no longer have to get accept inherent risk and inevitable scandal as part of the syndication game.  Now, select publishers can be deleted and blocked from accessing a company’s video feed without cutting off legit publishers.

Reputable publishers also benefit from programmatic video syndication exchange by way of enhanced discovery, ease of use, and far greater choice in the video they choose to host on their sites. On both sides – for the publisher and the advertiser – formerly manual processes are automated, bringing to fruition the promise we have all known that video syndication represents, but could never quite realize with traditional methods.

In the media frenzy over George Clooney’s wedding, for example, many of the video clips featured in mainstream and niche celebrity news contained the same raw footage. There simply weren’t a lot of journalists in position to capture the moment. Using programmatic syndication exchange, publishers weren’t limited only to those feeds from video owners with whom they already had relationships. They could choose the $5 per thousand views clip with commentary by superstar Nancy O’Dell if they wanted. However, they could also choose the $0.75 per thousand views clip, featuring the same George Clooney footage but narrated by a lesser-known host from a smaller entertainment publication.

And on the other side of that equation, in real-time, either Entertainment Tonight or the smaller e-news publisher would know exactly where their video was being displayed as soon as the feed was picked up.

Real-time programmatic video syndication exchange is a pipeline for content distribution at scale to the masses – one with complete transparency and safeguards to protect brands from fraudulent use and otherwise potentially harmful exposure.

Like all other facets of online marketing, video syndication can operate with more science and less guesswork. As the rise of programmatic video syndication exchanges removes ambiguity and unmitigated risk to brand video owners from the equation, we can finally put the archaic spray-and-pray traditional approach to online video syndication to bed, once and for all.


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