Every publisher, mobile web, or app developer has at least several questions about their inventory monetization before choosing a video ad network. If only five or ten years ago there were not so many options to choose from (aside from Google AdSense), today’s programmatic ecosystem delivers plenty of video ad networks for publishers that have really good video specialization (both for desktop, mobile web, and mobile apps). In fact, the market is so rich today that it is easy to get lost in the platforms in case you don’t know what to look for yet.

The same can be applied to advertisers. Inspecting the saturated market of video ad networks they hope to find premium video ad publishers that have specific, brand-safe video content for placing the ads. On top of that advertisers need to make sure that their video advertising campaigns are delivered to the right users at the right time and screen.

Last time we gave an overview of how to select the best CPM ad network for publishers. Today, let’s figure out which video networks you should take a closer look at in order to connect to the open marketplace. We will look at them from both sides: from the point of view of the publisher, and from the advertiser’s perspective.

Video ads for website turned into a very powerful way of monetization for publishers since the early age of online advertising. Various ad formats for video flourished and gradually seized all mediums including in-app, mobile web, and CTV. Different ad formats offer different benefits but exactly video-enabled advertisers to showcase their products and services in the best light. Using video format advertisers finally started delivering high quality brand stories to the customers, ones that engage and describe the offer in detail.

As a result video ad spend tremendously increased, in fact, by the end of 2021 it will reach a whopping $22.18 billion according to eMarketer stats. Right now video ad format beats all records in popularity so the number of ad networks grows as well.

digital video ad spending

The landscape of video networks in 2020

Video ad services of Google AdSense. AdSense is one of those video networks that has been around since 2003. Google launched AdSense in March 2003, formerly known as Applied Semantics, it was renamed to AdSense later on. In 2004, Google gave advertisers a chance to choose the ad placements and in 2009, AdSense announced that it would diversity to offer new features, including the ability to serve ads to multiple networks.

AdSense for Videos is designed for video content monetization (through different ad channels like desktop, mobile, mobile apps, etc.). This type of Adsense allows you to generate income through ads from the Google Ad Network. The service makes it fairly easy to choose what video ad format will be displayed when the video is shown.

AdSense for video offers the following ad serving options:

  • Video ads are shown before or after the main video (pre-roll or post roll)
  • Text and media ads that run during the video
  • Videos in TrueView format: the advertiser pays for the display of the ad only if the user has watched the video till the end.

Alternatives of Google AdSense. Just like with other advertising networks, in AdSense the income depends on traffic, ad placement, and niche (vertical: entertainment, news, health, technology, sport, etc.). Today this platform is so popular because without a doubt it is reliable and has a very good reputation. Neither publishers nor advertisers have to worry about security, payments, or the quality rendering of the creatives on ad servers). At the same time, the competition is slowly putting the leader to the lower positions in the video ad networks list because the new companies have plenty of innovations to offer advertisers and publishers. While trying to acquire their share of customers alternative ad networks add to their platforms completely new groundbreaking programmatic functionalities such as geofencing, video header bidding, or interactive digital ad formats. Each of the platforms can have a proprietary feature that distinguishes it from other options and makes it unique.

The two reasons why publishers and advertisers transition to alternative video networks are cost and restrictions. Alternative ad networks are known to be more flexible in their cost formation because sometimes it is the only way for them to compete (while they offer a similar set of services). As well, like any other big adtech platform AdSense has its own service terms and conditions that restrict certain types of ads, which is not convenient for some website owners. Eligibility requirements for advertising can be also strict while in alternative solutions they can also be more liberal.

In case you look for an alternative solution to AdSense or just want to tap into new sources of media trading, let’s review several solutions that will suit both publishers and advertisers. Today we’ve gathered and compared them for you.

Top video ad networks to watch for in 2020

1. SmartyAds

SmartyAds starts this list of top video ad networks because it has more than just one ad network to offer to its supply and demand partners, it features the whole full-stack of robust programmatic solutions to the clients. In 8 years SmartyAds has managed to build an entire programmatic infrastructure that today incorporates SSP, DSP, Ad Exchange, and white label platforms. Such an infrastructure is very beneficial because it provides advertisers and publishers with immediate access to additional tools and platforms for media buying and monetization.

SmartyAds SSP is a specialized ad platform for publishers that performs media selling and fills the ad space in real time. Here are the core features of it:

  • Highest fill rates. The platform works with top-tier traffic sources from top-tier countries like U.S, Israel, Germany, UK, Russia, India guaranteeing high fill rates across all verticals (with a focus on technologies, business services, media, financial services, eCommerce, investment, etc.).
  • Format & environment options. Any publisher can choose a suitable video ad unit for all environments and screen resolutions. (Along with other digital formats).
  • Maximized demand. RTB connection and competition-maximizing technologies like header-bidding ensure that publishers easily connect to premium advertisers.
  • Premium video demand. Through the private marketplace deals and programmatic direct deals, advertisers search for the premium and exclusive video inventory, thus publishers have the chance to sell it for a greater price.
  • Publisher controls. With enhanced controls, it is up to publishers on how to fine-tune the ad campaigns: filters, ad sizes, types, resolutions, minimum price (floor price), etc.

SmartyAds DSP works like an advanced video ad network for advertisers. With such an ad platform, advertisers buy video ad units automatically, in real time, and according to the ad campaign criteria they define for themselves. The functionality includes:

  • 100% brand safety. The ads are never shown near inappropriate content and the traffic consists only of viewable impressions thanks to the Protected Media, Forensiq, and manual traffic quality revision.
  • Cost-effectiveness and transparency. The platform has no hidden fees and only requires a min prepay of $1000 for the ad campaigns.
  • Global reach. The platform is connected to the worldwide pool of premium publishers through RTB and also offers high-volume premium direct and PMP deals with publishers.
  • All verticals. The platform delivers millions of impressions daily with a special focus on such niches as Arts & Entertainment, Technology & Computing, Hobbies & Interests (Games, Society - 5,5% Business, News, Education, Health & Fitness.
  • High quality video ad formats. Advertisers can choose from plenty of ad video ad formats that complement user experience e.g, in-banner videos, native video, rich media, CTV, etc.

Specifics of the platforms

  • Model: CPM
  • Reporting: in real time
  • Countries platforms work with: worldwide
  • SSP payment method: NET 60 basis
  • Minimum Traffic Requirement for SSP: ~5 million page views per month.

2. Facebook Audience Network

This one is perched among the best video ad networks for publishers because it helps reach people not only on Facebook and Instagram but also far beyond. As soon as a user clicks on a banner located at the publisher’s inventory, the publisher receives a certain defined fraction of income coming from Facebook. In the Facebook Audience Network, promotional ad units don’t look like the news feed, which helps advertisers to stand out.

FAN ad platform features and advantages:

  • Affordability. Surprisingly, FAN belongs to the affordable video ad networks because serving ads on this network is cheaper than placing ads directly on Facebook: the average CPC gradually goes down, which allows you to buy more places and increase reach.
  • Pre-roll friendly. FAN is a good pre roll video ad network that can serve in-stream videos (which the publishers can monetize their content with).
  • Focus on mobile advertising. FAN is considered to be one of those video ad networks that focus on mobile environments (specific demand and supply). It also means that the FAN supports video and image ads.
  • Reach. Over a billion users see audience network ads every month.
  • Proven quality and reputation. Facebook Audience Network does not buy traffic from and first party data from third party vendors, plus, it also doesn’t buy traffic on advertising exchanges, preferring to work with leading publishers.
  • Strong targeting. FAN utilizes the Facebook targeting system which makes sure that advertisers channel their ads only to the right targeted demographics.

Specifics of the platform

  • Model: CPM
  • Reporting: in real time
  • Countries platforms work with: worldwide
  • SSP payment method: NET 21 basis
  • Minimum Traffic Requirement for SSP: ~5 million page views per month.

3. Xandr (Appnexus)

Xandr formerly known as Appnexus is a video advertising network that offers both buy and sell side services on one major open marketplace. The company entered the programmatic market in 2007. By 2020 it has established integrations with such advertising giants as Google's DoubleClick and Microsoft's AdECN. For the publisher that has a video player, it is a good chance to trade via RTB, programmatic exchange or direct deals with advertisers. In addition, this Appnexus also offers a DSP to advertisers that facilitates buying inventory in real time and offers separate SSP for publishers.

Features of Appnexus video advertising network:

  • Variety of video formats. The platforms are beneficial for advertisers who want to serve in-stream ads, as well as outstream units. Publishers can sell here their video ad slots for the best price (especially connected TV inventory with immersive user experience).
  • RTB and direct deals. The platform connects to the large global publishers with advertisers (thanks to the RTB ecosystem), the direct deals with publishers are also available.
  • Package deals. Package deals make it easy for the publishers to sell inventory quickly. For advertisers, it is a chance to achieve more cost-effective deals.
  • Strong campaign controls. Through the dashboard, advertisers can configure their ad campaigns. Publishers, meanwhile, can use the platform dashboard to define ad rendering to the slightest details.
  • Yield forecasts. The SSP has a very convenient feature that helps publishers to forecast their future yields.
  • Reporting system. Both SSP and DSP generate visualized performance reports in real time.

Specifics of the platforms

  • Model: CPM
  • Reporting: in real time
  • Countries platforms work with: worldwide
  • Payment: NET 30 basis
  • Minimum Traffic for publishers: No minimum requirement.

4. Exponential

Exponential can also be attributed to the best video ad networks because of their tiered prices for publishers that are very convenient, especially for monetizing video ads. They developed a single platform (marketplace) where advertisers and publishers can trade programmatically. It is one of those video ad networks that has been founded as Tribal Fusion. What makes it a good choice among other video-oriented platforms is that it offers fairly high video CPMs for publishers and sets the high video traffic quality standards.

Features of Exponential video ad network:

  • Various ad formats. Exponential offers the most popular video formats like in stream for both mobile and desktop environments (along with other display ads).
  • Premium brand advertisements. Premium brand advertisements are available through direct deals.
  • Reach across verticals and categories. Advertisers can video ads across the widest range of categories and verticals that include tech, games, entertainment, science, education.
  • Strong targeting. Geo, divide, OS, and other targeting options are available for all types of video ads.
  • Campaign controls. The platform features a convenient dashboard where advertisers and publishers can configure campaign flow.
  • Stats. Statistics for campaign and inventory monetization performance and generated in reports.

Specifics of the platform

  • Model: CPM, CPA
  • Reporting: in real time
  • Countries platforms work with: worldwide
  • Payment: NET 45 basis
  • Minimum Traffic for publishers: 500,000 million page views per month.

5. SpotX

SpotX belongs to those video ad networks that have specialization in OTT and CTV video ad serving. In-stream and outstream ads are rendering well in this environment which is also highly-targeted and offers placements among various types of video content. It is a very popular ad network as this marketplace serves the needs of both publishers and advertisers and generates no less than 3 billion video ads monthly.

SpotX video ad network offers the following features:

  • Broad reach. This video ad network is connected to the global RTB pool of publishers and has 50+ demand side partners onboard.
  • Specific ad formats. Rich media, In-content sticky, video formats for OTT, in-stream and outstream ad units as well as video ads for website.
  • Controls for advertisers. On the advertiser’s side there’s a functionality to adjust targeting, video units, daily budget spend, frequency, etc.
  • Controls for publishers. The publishers can configure comfortable price floors and other trading conditions like multi-currency reporting, ad parameters, etc.
  • Higher CPMS for publishers. The CPM for publishers is really high and can go up to $10.
  • Bid activity reports. Performance reports reflect the multitude of necessary metrics, bid activity, impressions, yield (for publishers), and so on.

Specifics of the platform

  • Model: CPM
  • Reporting: in real time
  • Countries platforms work with: worldwide
  • Payment: NET 60 basis
  • Minimum traffic for publishers: No minimum requirement

6. Selectmedia

Selectmedia is a video ad network designed for cross-screen video inventory monetization and ad campaign delivery. It works based on RTB and channels video content to the targeted audiences worldwide. What makes it special is exceptionally brands friendly and fraud-free environment as it has pretty strict inventory requirements. Like the rest of the video networks in this list, it has a daily decent pool of partners and traffic sources. The platform is integrated with 650 premium direct websites in 55 countries.

Features Selectmedia ad network has to offer:

  • Video ads for publishers. Cross-screen support for mobile video ad units, in-app, and desktop.
  • Direct and RTB deals. The platform offers either real-time bidding and direct deals.
  • Safety standards. The ecosystem is safe and protected due to the high IAB inventory standards and connection of traffic safety providers.
  • Yield optimization. The platform promises efficient yield optimization for publishers and ad budget optimization for advertisers.
  • Affordable media price. Global-scale and connection to worldwide supply partners decrease the price for the media and optimizes the cost per impression.
  • Trusted video supply. The platform has an extensive network of supply partners across regions.

Specifics of the platform

  • Model: CPM, CPV, Flat Fee, and Rev-Share 
  • Reporting: in real time
  • Countries platforms work with: worldwide
  • Payment: NET 60 basis
  • Minimum traffic for publishers: 250,000 million page views per month.

7. Undertone

Undertone is one of those video ad platforms that specialize in in-banner and pre-roll video ads. It has publisher programmatic solutions as well as solutions for advertisers that include video, multicultural, TV data targeting, social media, influencer, and other ad formats. Undertone works with big brands like Sephora, LG, L'oreal and provides traffic across all known mediums including mobile web, in-app, and desktop.

Undertone video ad network has the following characteristics:

  • Popular and custom video ad formats. Interstitial, in-line, adhesion, social, in-banner, and pre-roll formats, including IAB formats and units that can be rendered across screens.
  • CBA compliance. All video formats are compliant with the coalition for better ads and IAB standards.
  • 24/7 support. The service claims to have reliable customer support that works round the clock.
  • KPI measurement. The system provides a convenient measurement for video ad performance: impressions, conversion, clicks, etc.
  • TV video support. The platform can target and retarget users on TV and measure the performance of TV campaigns.

Specifics of the platform

  • Model: CPM, CPC, CPA, and CPV
  • Reporting: in real time
  • Countries platforms work with: worldwide
  • Payment: NET 60 basis
  • Minimum traffic for publishers: 500,000 million page views per month.

8. Propeller ads

PropellerAds offers lots of options when it comes to either video content monetization and monetization through other known static formats. As well it has options for advertisers to run video ad campaigns across mediums. To this moment the company has managed to run over 3,000 successful ad campaigns including those with video content.

PropellerAds video ad network is characterized by the following features:

  • Traffic security and safety. The traffic purity and health is guaranteed by constant manual checks and connection to traffic safety providers.
  • High-quality videos. Banner formats, on-click, and in-banner videos are of the highest quality and adhere to the industry standards like IAB.
  • Lots of video formats.The platform supports various video formats with a special focus on on-click and in-banner video.
  • Passback. If for some reason inventory is not filled, PropellerAds offer publishers a passback which aptly replaces the ad unit with a different one.
  • Performance reports. While serving video ads publisher can generate statistics regarding the performance of inventory.

Specifics of the platform

  • Model: CPM and Rev share
  • Reporting: in real time
  • Countries platforms work with: worldwide
  • Payment: NET 15 basis
  • Minimum traffic for publishers: No minimum requirement

9. Unruly

Unruly stands out among other ad networks because it supports video ad units of various origins each of which is compliant with the GDPR, CCPA standards, and IAB recommendations. Plus, it also follows the LEAN standards by IAB. The platform is positioned as a reliable, video-friendly solution with a global reach that works according to the RTB and non-RTB auctions. This video ad platform is connected to worldwide advertisers, as well it aggregates inventory from the premium mobile, in-app, and desktop publishers.

How the Unruly video ad network is differentiated:

  • Convenient dashboard. The dashboard makes it easy to set up the campaign criteria: targeting, budget, video resolutions. The publishers meanwhile define price floors and the campaign rendering rules.
  • RTB and PMP. Publishers and advertisers have the chance to trade in an open marketplace, private marketplace, and via direct deals.
  • Video ads for publishers and advertisers. There are plenty of video formats to choose from outstream, instream, and mobile video, plus CTV, in-app video, social, display, and so on.
  • Helpful account services. Customer support and account managers will help to set up campaigns and solve the issues.
  • Edit suite. Advertisers can supercharge their video ad units using an editing suite of platforms.

Specifics of the platform

  • Model: CPM, PPC, CPA
  • Reporting: in real time
  • Countries platforms work with: worldwide
  • Payment: NET 60 basis
  • Minimum traffic for publishers: No minimum requirement

10. Video intelligence

Video intelligence is a video ads publisher network that offers contextual video ad formats monetization. It utilizes the data accumulated on websites and places the ads according to the advertiser’s campaign criteria. The contextual matching is happening in conjunction with media analysis (audio, moving image, brand/person recognition, text). In-stream video ad units belong to the most popular ad formats that generate the best CPM for publishers.

Distinguishing features of Video intelligence:

  • Broadest reach. The video ads are delivered across top-tier countries such as Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Franc, UK, Japan, Netherlands, the USA, and so on.
  • Targeted video content. Video ad units are served contextually on websites and in apps. They meet the industry standards, including GDPR and CCPA.
  • PMP. Private marketplace deals provide exclusive inventory to advertisers and beneficial trading conditions to publishers.
  • Cross-vertical reach. The video ads from Video intelligence showcase great effectiveness, especially in the niches of entertainment, Lifestyle, news.
  • IAB categories. Application of IAB categories guarantees the strongest contextual match.

Specifics of the platform

  • Model: CPM
  • Reporting: in real time
  • Countries platforms work with: worldwide
  • Payment: NET 60 basis
  • Minimum traffic for publishers: No minimum requirement

11. SpringServe

SpringServe belongs to video servers for publishers rather than to video ad networks. It offers publishers convenient management of the generated yield as well as video ad serving. Such an ad server will be especially beneficial for those publishers who need to customize the ad serving process according to their own needs. In comparison to any other video ad network in the list, this solution also enables connecting it to other solution providers and SSPs.

What’s particular about the SpringServe ad server?

  • Support for any video ad format. The ad server is configurable and can support almost any video ad format.
  • Auction optimization. Ad server enables every publisher to adjust ad servers individually, optimizing the auction dynamics.
  • Better transparency. More control over media-selling and serving makes it easy to track processes and keep technology accountable.
  • Broad reach. SpringServe has connections to the worldwide network of advertisers as well as unique direct partners and agencies.
  • Simple tag management. The tag management is simplified to make the campaign tracking more convenient.

Specifics of the platform

  • Model: N/A
  • Reporting: in real time
  • Countries platforms work with: worldwide
  • Payment: NET 30 basis
  • Minimum traffic for publishers: No minimum requirement

12. Airpush

Ad networks like Airpush give a specific focus to mobile advertising video ads. With this tech platform, advertisers can serve ads on more than 150,000 apps worldwide. As well, this company lets publishers monetize their ad inventory utilizing a plethora of video ad formats, static, interactive, and dynamic. Airpush has introduced its own video ad unit called an abstract banner. Currently, the company serves campaigns of such brands as Walmart, Nissan, KFC, Huawei, etc.

Strong features of Airpush video ad network:

  • Video units for reach and impact. The most popular formats used on the platforms are overlay, rich media, in-app banners, abstract banners, overlay, all kinds of mobile web formats, and push ads.
  • SDK integration. Publishers can quickly connect their apps and start monetizing them with lightweight SDK.
  • Mobile private exchange. Enables demand and supply partners to trade through RTB and through private marketplace deals.
  • Convenient dashboard. The dashboard helps advertisers and publishers adjust campaigns/monetization with ads according to their objectives.
  • The abundance of targeting options. Targeting according to geo, OS, divide, traffic type, and other criteria make it easy for advertisers to advertise only to the right audiences.

Specifics of the platform

  • Reporting: in real time
  • Countries platforms work with: worldwide
  • Payment: NET 60 basis
  • Minimum traffic for publishers: No minimum requirement

To wrap it up

Even AdSense is obviously one of the largest video ad networks, if you look closely at the market solutions you’ll realize that there are lots of options, each of which offers unique features and has competitive advantages. Using such criteria as channels, formats, user experience, payment model, etc., you can easily navigate this video ad networks list in order to assess which one will align best with your priorities.

Be ahead of advertising innovations. Join SmartyAds SSP as a publisher or SmartyAds DSP as an advertiser!

Written by
Irina Kovalenko, CMO of SmartyAds
November 2020