They might be distracted, but Yahoo’s video sales team is open for business. Rebecca Paoletti, director of video strategy, says sales are brisk. It’s the third year that Yahoo (YHOO) has held video sales talks with advertisers in parallel with TV’s “upfront” sales season.
Meetings with advertisers started this week, and Paoletti said judging from their plans, she expects to sell 50% of all of Yahoo’s video ad inventory in advance this spring, up from 30% last year.
Paoletti’s pitch to advertisers: Buy now or take your chances. Yahoo and other portals sold out of video ad inventory last year, (CBS and Hulu have also made this claim), so buying during upfronts should guarantee you the eyeballs you want.
That scarcity doesn’t mean that online video revenue is skyrocketing. In part it means that there aren’t that many viewers watching ad-supported video (YouTube doesn’t count, because Google doesn’t really sell ads for its dog-on-skateboard stuff). And in part it means that advertisers aren’t loading up video with ads, becuase they’re afraid the ads will drive viewers away.
Yahoo says it is getting ad rates for online video that compare favourably to TV: $25 CPM, on average, or higher for targeted ads. We’ve heard the same from other publishers, as well as some complaining from advertisers that online video has gotten too expensive.
What’s Yahoo selling in the upfront? Video in its vertical sites: music, news, sports, health, entertainment, OMG, movies, TV, finance, and tech, as well as inventory on partner sites, such as Comcast, Forbes, MobiTV, MLB and CNET. Yahoo is also seling its’ own 10 original online shows, including “Yahoo Sports Minute,” “Good Morning Yahoo,” Primetime in No Time,” and “TechTicker” (which features our own editor Henry Blodget as a host!)
Paoletti won’t say what percentage of Yahoo’s ad revenue comes from video except that it is the smallest but fastest growing ad segment.
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