I'm pleased to present the 273rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Since Verizon announced it was acquiring AOL for $4.4 billion earlier this week, there has been a ton of media coverage, with lots of speculation about what the deal means for Verizon going forward. This is at least partly due to the companies doing a relatively poor job of articulating the deal's strategy.
In this week's podcast, Colin and I weigh in as well, focusing mainly on how AOL's video, programmatic and video syndication assets could mesh well with Verizon Digital Media Services, which already provides back-end delivery and monetization to video content providers (see here and here). Combining the two seems like the biggest point of leverage to Colin and me, yet we note that Verizon didn't even mention a VDMS role in any public comments on the deal.
Meanwhile, in a week when the pay-TV industry suffered its first-ever first quarter loss of video subscribers, we also discuss how Verizon seems intent on innovating beyond the traditional multichannel bundle.
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Ad tech provider Jivox has announced a series of updates to its Jivox IQ platform, streamlining workflows for advertisers to create/deliver dynamic ads in programmatic environments. The end goal is for viewers to experience more personalized, relevant ads, based on data that will drive higher engagement. Jivox's founder and CEO Diaz Nesamoney recently briefed me on the updates.
Jivox has redesigned its ad creation environment as Dynamic Ad Studio based on technology it calls "Dynamic Canvas." Instead of using code templates, the technology uses dynamic ad components so assets can be resized, depending on where the ads are delivered. This also reduces the ads' weight for improved loading.
More evidence that video advertisers are embracing multiscreen strategies: Videology reports that in Q1 '15, 58% of all campaigns on its platform ran on more than one screen, up from just 17% in Q1 '14. Almost half (46%) of campaigns ran on Desktop/Mobile/OTT, vs. 40% on desktop only.
The most popular campaign objectives remained view-through rate and click-through rate, followed by audience verification and viewable rate. Another big shift was that 89% of campaigns ran on VPAID inventory in Q1 '15, up from 52% in Q1 '14. Videology believes this reflects brands' increased appetite for interactivity, creativity and measurability not possible in the VAST format.
There is a tragedy of the commons brewing in the online ecosystem. While online consumers dislike online ads enough to deploy ad blockers at an exponential rate, the vast majority of publishers rely on ads to bring content to these same users for free. If ad blocking software adoption continues to grow, what will the true cost be for each party?
We all get it - ads can detract from the user's experience. Tivo and DVRs gave television viewers a way to circumvent advertising through "ad zapping." As consumer behaviors shift to online, ad blockers have now given internet users a similar option. They simply stop requests to specified ad servers or restrict certain page elements from loading onto sites. Unless an ad meets certain criteria or the publisher pays for their site to be "whitelisted," the ad is blocked from the end-user. This includes pre-roll, mid-rolls, interstitials and any ads that are deemed non-static.
Topics: Altitude Digital
Mobile video advertising is red-hot. According to Opera Mediaworks' new State of Mobile Advertising report, mobile video ad impressions in its network rose to 12.8% of all its impressions in Q1 '15, up from just 2.5% of all its impressions in Q1 '14. Mobile video advertising is also much more profitable than other formats, accounting for 55% of revenue delivered to publishers in Opera's ad network.
We all know the Internet is big - some 3.5 trillion web pages big, by the latest comScore estimates. But you wouldn't know it by looking at the current state of the online video market.
Nearly a decade after advertisers started batting around the idea of the Internet's "long tail," highly branded video publishers have yet to grasp the meaning of the phrase. The online video market is now pulling in over $6 billion. That's not bad. But with an injection of democracy, the market could grow to three times that size in very short order.
2,400 industry executives and fans packed the Madison Square Garden Theater for YouTube's Brandcast NewFront Wednesday night that was part 10-year birthday celebration, part evangelical commercial about online video/YouTube's ascendance and part pure entertainment spectacle.
The evening began with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki noting that hours watched are up 50% year-over-year and that YouTube now reaches more 18-49 year olds on mobile ALONE, than does any single cable network reach on TV. YouTube daily viewers are up 40% vs. 2014. And in a pitch to how advertisers can succeed on YouTube, Wojcicki said that 4 out of 10 of the top trending videos in 2014 were actually ads, not content.
Hulu held its NewFront on Wednesday, highlighting its growth, which includes approaching 9 million subscribers, up 50% vs. 2014, with 700 million hours of video streamed in Q1 '15, up 83% vs. Q1 '14. Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins said that 61% of Hulu's viewers no longer watch on a computer. 82% of Hulu's audience is in the 18-49 year-old age range, with a median age of 33 years-old.
I have long wondered whether Hulu was going to be the odd man out, sandwiched between Netflix, OTT's 800-pound gorilla, and Amazon, with its unlimited resources. But Hulu is clearly investing heavily in both licensed and original content, and seemingly carving out its place in the OTT landscape.
AOL hosted its NewFronts presentation Tuesday night, with the key highlights including a new strategy dubbed "Content 365" structured around a screen-based content development approach, a new slate of 16 different programs, and a deal to obtain clips from NBCU's entertainment and news programs.
Content 365, the new mantra from AOL, describes an expansion from a NewFronts "season" to a NewFronts "year." AOL's content development strategy is to focus on 3 formats: short/snackable for smartphones, 5-7 minute mid-form "storytelling" for tablets and desktops and longer-form for connected TVs. In all, AOL plans to produce over 3,600 pieces of video in 2015.
Capitalizing on video's tremendous monetization potential has become a top priority for all content providers, as evidenced by the biggest-ever NewFronts, which kick off today. But newly released survey results highlight how some content providers are already better positioned than others to actually profit from video advertising.
Ad tech provider Operative provided me with a cut of data from a new benchmarking survey it released last week, evaluating the correlations between video ad sales/operational effectiveness and profitability. The overall survey, done in partnership with Digital Content Next, provides insights into 194 content providers, with the cut I received focusing on the 70 content providers that generate at least 25% of their online billable revenues from video.
The initial program for the 5th annual VideoNuze Online Video Ad Summit on Tuesday, June 16th in NYC is now set.
I'm thrilled that Neeraj Khemlani, Co-President of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication and President, Hearst Digital Studios, will be our keynote guest. I will be interviewing Neeraj about critical industry trends, how established media companies are positioning themselves for the online video era and how viewers' behavior is impacting advertising. Plus, we'll discuss Hearst's investments in Vice, AwesomenessTV, BuzzFeed, Roku and others.
So far, 26 executive speakers are on board, from industry leaders like Bonnier, Conde Nast, Digitas, Heineken USA, MediaVest, Reuters TV, Roku, Starcom, Viacom, Zenith OptiMedia and many others.
The jam-packed program will feature 14 sessions on the convergence of TV and video advertising, programmatic from both the buyers' and publishers' sides, how video monetization is being modernized from both the buyers' and publishers' side, mobile video, connected TVs, the NewFronts/Upfronts, viewability and online video ad innovation.
The Ad Summit will once again be a must-attend day of learning and networking with industry leaders from brands, agencies, content providers, technology companies and others in the ecosystem. Last year's Ad Summit drew over 420 attendees and featured 40+ speakers.
Discounted, early bird registration is open, and a reminder that all early bird registrants will be entered to win a 55-inch TCL Roku TV, generously provided by Roku.
Learn more and register now!
Video supply side ad platform Altitude Digital has raised $30 million from FastPay, a provider of liquidity and financial workflow solutions to the media industry. The new funds will be used for growing Altitude's ARENA platform and data infrastructure, expanding mobile capabilities and growing internationally. The new financing brings total capital raised to date to $45 million.
Topics: Altitude Digital
Akamai has integrated Adobe Primetime ad insertion into its network to enable server-side online video advertising. Red Bull Media House and Turner Broadcasting are both trialing the joint solution.
While other server-side ad solutions exist, John Bishop, CTO of Akamai's media business told me last week he sees this as a "Server-Side 2.0" offering because the ad requests run directly through Akamai's CDN, thereby eliminating slower communications paths that can hinder scalability.
Programmatic TV technology provider clypd has raised a $19.4 million Series B round to expand all departments in the business, and enter new markets in Europe and Asia-Pacific. With the new round, clypd has raised approximately $30 million.
European broadcaster RTL Group led the round, with participation from prior investors. RTL has become a very active investor in U.S. online video and technology companies, buying a 51% stake in multichannel network BroadbandTV for $36 million in June, 2013, a 65% stake in programmatic video ad platform SpotXchange for $144 million in July, 2014 and acquiring fashion and beauty MCN StyleHaul for $107 million in November, 2014.
YouTube is poised to be the next major content provider to join the great subscription VOD land grab for consumers' video spending. Per a Bloomberg report yesterday, YouTube has sent a letter to its content creators sharing its intention to launch an ad-free subscription service, though neither the price nor launch date was specified. Content creators would keep 55% of subscription revenue based on their pro rata viewership.
Plans for a YouTube subscription service were initially mentioned by its CEO Susan Wojcicki last October at the Code Mobile conference.
Boston-based YouTube ad buying platform Pixability has raised an $18 million Series C round, led by new investors Jump Capital and Edison Partners, with participation from existing investors. The new funds will be used for product development and international expansion. The company has raised $28 million to date.
Pixability's core capability is enabling brands and agencies to create and manage data-driven video ad campaigns targeting specific audiences within YouTube channels. This is extremely valuable because while YouTube's massive user base is very attractive to brands and agencies, the site's diverse content makes it virtually impossible to understand how to optimize YouTube ad spending.
Innovid has raised $10 million in additional capital from Cisco Investments and existing investors, bringing total capital raised to date to $37.6 million. The new funds will be used for product development. Cisco and Innovid announced a partnership back in September, 2013, to deliver interactive, contextual video ads to second screens.
Aside from the financing, the big news from Innovid is the huge growth in its Innovid Atom video ad serving platform for brands and agencies. According to CEO and co-founder Zvika Netter, who I caught up with on Friday, Innovid has gone from 20 brands using its platform last July, to 110 now. This is expected to rise to 145 by the end of Q2 '15. Included among these are Kraft, Disney, Toyota, Chrysler and dozens of others.
At Facebook's F8 developer conference yesterday, the company announced a series of initiatives that, taken together, demonstrate it is positioned to be a very big player in video and YouTube's biggest competitor long-term. Following are the most important announcements and my take on their implications. I also note the key missing pieces that are almost certainly on Facebook's video roadmap.
TubeMogul and Videoplaza, an Ooyala company, have announced a partnership to build a premium programmatic ad marketplace, which will enable brands, agencies and trading desks that use TubeMogul's buying platform to access inventory from international broadcasters and publishers that use Videoplaza's sell-side programmatic solutions Karbon and Konnect.
A reminder that early bird discounted registration is open for the 5th annual VideoNuze Online Video Advertising Summit on Tuesday, June 16th in NYC. All early bird registrants will be entered to win a 55-inch TCL Roku TV, graciously provided by Roku.
There is a ton going on in online video advertising, and the Ad Summit will dive deeply into all of the hottest topics such as programmatic, viewability, convergence, mobile, branded entertainment, innovation and much more. The Ad Summit will once again be a must-attend day of learning and networking with industry leaders from brands, agencies, content providers, technology companies and others in the ecosystem. Last year's Ad Summit drew over 420 attendees, featuring 40+ speakers.
There are 10 terrific industry-leading companies on board so far as sponsors, including Premier Partners DashBid, FreeWheel and Pixability, Headline Partners Altitude Digital, LiveRail/Facebook, Ooyala, Teads.tv and TubeMogul plus Branding Partners Brightcove and Roku. I'm grateful for their generous support!
Learn more and register now!