LiveRail Advertising | The Future Of Online Video Advertising?

7 min read

LiveRail Header

Advertising for online video sites is evolving at a pace to
match the increase in popularity these sites are seeing. A new model is
now here which could replace the cost-per-mille (CPM) trend which has
been mainly used up to now.

We’ve seen plenty of new online video advertisers claiming to have the latest new and unique approach to online video advertising. Fresh on the scene is LiveRail which is currently in a closed beta testing period. But is this new company really adding any new ingredients to the online video advertising mix?

Meet LiveRail

LiveRail has taken the approach taken by this newcomer to the video advertising space is
significantly different from the norm.

Unwieldy text-based ads are
nowhere in sight, either in or outside of the video player frame.
Tiresome pre-roll
advertising, which forces viewers to watch an ad before the video
proper begins, is gone. 

Pointless advertising tacked on to the end of
the video, and subsequently ignored by viewers is mercifully absent.

So how exactly are these people proposing to make money for
their advertisers and publishers?

The answer is a variation of the
model that has made
as popular as it is today, and the key is in carefully targeting the
interests of viewers.

Through the use of a smart
serves up video advertising targeted by the content of the video, the
language used, previously successful campaigns, and even the geographic
location of the viewer.

The advertising served up is placed in thumbnail form
underneath the main video player. And here’s the amazing part – it only
plays if the viewer chooses to click on it. 

Likewise, the advertiser
only pays out if a user chooses to watch their video, rather than being
hemmed in by a cost-per-thousand

To learn more about this interesting
approach to Internet video advertising, read on.

LiveRail – Overview

Live Rail Logo

is a London-based
startup focusing on providing an all-in-one content hosting and video
marketing solution for video publishers and advertisers on the web.

What that means for those publishing their videos online is a
way to upload, categorize, embed and monetize their video through the

For advertisers, it provides an easy way to set up campaigns
that are precisely targeted by such factors as language, viewer
location and of course keywords and categories.

Both parties can easily upload
their video content, have it transcoded into high quality Flash video,
and store it for free with LiveRail. 

It is then in the best interest of
publisher, advertiser and LiveRail alike to place appropriate
advertising content alongside highly relevant videos to ensure the
maximum revenue for all involved.

From what I have seen so far, I have every reason to believe
this may well prove to be an effective model. Force advertising down
your audience’s throat, and you are likely to make enemies

place interesting (marketing) content in close proximity to a video
they have already chosen to watch, and the possibilities for them to
become interested suddenly grows.

But how simple is it to get up
and running with LiveRail?

LiveRail For Publishers

From a video publishers perspective LiveRail makes it
simple to get your video content online, where it can be activated or
archived for free. 

From there it is simply a matter of making sure that
you accurately describe and categorize your content so as to ensure the
best possible results in terms of placement and eventual revenues.

Preparing Content

Video Upload

The first thing you’ll want to do is upload your video to the
LiveRail servers. If you’ve ever published a video on YouTube or this won’t be
unfamiliar to you, and if you haven’t it is a straightforward enough

At the time of writing you can upload video in the following
popular formats:

This covers all of the major video
encoding formats,
and even allows you to transfer and upload video directly from your
mobile phone. 

Once you have uploaded your video it is transcoded by
LiveRail into the Flash video (
format for bandwidth-efficient but high-quality web delivery.

Once your video is ready you can
select which frame
will be displayed in the still thumbnail of the video player before the
clip begins. This is a nice touch that is absent from some of the major
sharing services.

Video Edit

Next up is the task of trying to
focus and
categorize the content of your video as best you can using primary and
secondary categories, of which there are a great many, selecting the
language of your video, and finally adding a description of your

It is possible to waltz through this whole experience in a
matter of
minutes, and the clean, simple interface leaves little room for
confusion from beginning to end.

Active Archive

Finally, videos can be made ‘active’, which is to say
available for
advertisers to work with, or else put on hold by archiving them.

Archived videos can of course be activated at any time, and in
way, should you wish to, it is possible to rotate your content.


Once your videos are active, you can follow exactly how much
video has earned from the LiveRail publishers’ control panel. It is
from this same straightforward control panel that you can choose to
make a withdrawal of your earnings to date at any point. 

You will then
receive those earnings by mail, sent to the address you established
upon signing up to the service.

LiveRail For Advertisers

The process for advertisers, while slightly more complex, is
nevertheless easy to breeze through in the space of minutes too.
Creating a campaign is not entirely removed from the uploading process
followed by publishers.

From there, tracking and closely monitoring
your spending, and the success of your campaign is also made simple.

Creating a Campaign

New Campaign

Putting a campaign together is as easy as uploading your video
advertisement to LiveRail and filling in a couple of quick forms. Here
you will enter the text copy for your ad, and the link you wish it to
take your potential audience to upon click-through.

The video formats allowed are the same as for publishers, and
the end result of a transcoded Flash video file is also the same.
Quality in my tests of the uploading service was consistently high,
which makes for a nice change.


Of course just as publishers will
be keen to
closely target their content to attract advertisers, so advertisers
will want to make sure that their content is as well focused, described
and categorized as possible. 

LiveRail allows you to set primary and
secondary categories in much the same way as publishers, and it is also
wise to choose the language of your video.

Once you have dealt with the
uploading and
targeting of your advertising, you can begin making dollar bids on how
much you are willing to spend per view of your video. 

Your bid, in
competition with other advertisers, is then used to calculate how
frequently and prominently your content will be displayed in the video
preview windows beneath publishers clips.

If you are the highest bidder in a given category your bid is
rounded down to just above the next lowest bidder, which means that
high bidders could be surprised at how little under their initial bid
they have to pay. 

If you are not the highest bidder in your chosen
category, however, the system will show you an estimate of your
relative position and allow you to alter your bid accordingly.

Ad Content

Monitoring a Campaign

When campaigns are up and running, advertisers can carefully
how much they are spending, how close they are to their set ‘daily
budget’, and details of the amount of impressions served in relation to
the amount of videos viewed, giving a click-through-rate


This gives advertisers a clear idea about their position in
to other advertisers, and the overall success of their campaign, and
might be used to hone decisions as to the amount bid per view, and even
the choice of category, depending on the overall results.

Video In Action

By far the best way to see
LiveRail in action, of
course, is to check it out for yourself. Here is the video player,
complete with the advertising prompts beneath the main window. 

If the
ads interest you, clicking on them will open a new player which allows
you to watch them, before resuming the original content. New ads will
then be served up beneath the video.

It is also possible to tag an advertising video for later
which gives you the chance to effectively bookmark it for later

I personally would like to see
these tagged videos
taking a slightly less intrusive approach, however, as at present they
appear over the current video and don’t go away. 

A more pleasant
solution would be to have the tagged videos appear upon rolling over
the video window, and disappear when the cursor leaves the edges of the

Possible Drawbacks

Player Drawback

One possible drawback to binding content hosting to
delivery is the requisite loss of control the publisher has over their

What this means is that should a company or independent
publisher have a significant amount of video assets tied into another
hosting service, or hosted on their own servers, they are going to need
to transfer all of this content to LiveRail.

Furthermore this means that any
control over the
encoding, video dimensions and quality of the video being broadcast
must ultimately be left in the hands of LiveRail.

This is by no means unique, and the way that the vast majority
services operate requires that publishers upload their content to
multiple hosting destinations.

If you don’t require precision
control over the
dimensions and encoding of your video – and let it be said that the
quality of LiveRail video is very high – this possible drawback won’t
trouble you, especially if it is offset by a steady stream of ad


offers a novel
solution for video publishers looking to monetize their work and
advertisers looking to precision-target their marketing message alike.

The defining feature of this video advertising
solution is its movement away from the
advertising model, and towards a new and potentially successful

Contextually placed advertising is positioned in thumbnail
beneath the main content, and advertisers are only charged when viewers
choose to watch the video-based commercials. 

As such, the likelihood of
a good conversion rate is likely to be higher, given that end-users
will have chosen to watch the advertisement in the first place.

This is a definite step forward
from the existing
video ad model, which is profoundly unpopular with viewers, and
video, which largely gets ignored as viewers switch to a new video to

Obviously the efficiency of this approach remains to be seen,
will heavily rely on accurate contextual ad placement.

However, if done
right, this strikes me as a refreshing and novel idea that will likely
yield positive results and favorable conversion rates for advertisers.

LiveRail is currently in closed beta release, and you can request
an invitation

to the service from the company website. 

If you are serious about
monetizing your online video content, or looking to place relevant
video advertising on targeted websites and blogs, it may well be worth
checking out further.

Additional Resources

If you would like to learn more about LiveRail, you might want to check out the following links:

Michael Pick is a contributing author discussing broadband video tools and software. His work can be found on MasterNewMedia. Post has Some Rights Reserved.