Videos in digital ads faces the same viewability dilemma as the ads themselves do — over half are never seen by actual, you know, humans.

Today, Montreal-based video ad marketplace SourceKnowledge is launching a new platform that it hopes will make that issue moot because it is performance-driven.

With its new Engage platform, SourceKnowledge is paid only if the advertiser gets a user to sign up for an account or a newsletter, make an online purchase, or engage in some other action. And for the user to do that, one assumes, the video must have been viewable enough to take the action.

Performance-based billing is less common in video ads than in digital ads in general.

A screen from the performance-based Engage

Above: A screen from the performance-based Engage.

Image Credit: SourceKnowledge

Engage complements the company’s existing Reach platform, a real-time bidding, programmatic platform that is automated to serve video the old way, as impressions. SourceKnowledge also offers a management service that places videos more or less manually.


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With Reach, CEO and founder Patrick Hopf told me, the company takes an order for a certain number of impressions using a CPM or cost-per-thousand billing model.

For Engage, the emphasis is on path-to-purchase because the billing is based on steps taken by the user, he said.

However, the final billing is a hybrid. There’s no payment to SourceKnowledge if the performance metrics haven’t been hit, but, once they are, CPMs are also included in the payment formula. Each campaign has a different formula, Hopf said.

“We’re moving the paradigm,” he said, adding that he didn’t know of any other pure-play video, demand-side platform for advertisers that does such performance billing. Platforms like TubeMogul and Tremor are key competitors, he said, but they are CPM-based.

If we’re meeting metrics, he added, “the whole concept of video ads being viewed or not, that whole discourse goes away.”

The platform is designed to deliver over 250 million streams daily to computer-based web, mobile web, or mobile apps, and it integrates with outside data management platforms (DMPs) that provide targeting data.

The company also promotes several strategies to improve engagement. For instance, the platform often uses pre-roll video ads — the kind coming right before the video clip — that run a non-standard length of seven to 10 seconds instead of the regular 15. The company says this can improve engagement by as much as 65 percent.

(The satirical publication The Onion recently weighed in on the higher value of shorter online video ads.)