Wochit, whose technology allows publishers to quickly create short-form, shareable videos from a rights-cleared library, has reported strong 2015 momentum, along with new features. Wochit said it grew revenues 300% in 2015 while doubling the number of customers. The US grew 200% and Europe 450%, with similar growth rates expected in 2016.
Wochit is benefiting from the larger industry trend of publishers’ desire to inexpensively create engaging video that often accompanies traditional text-based stories. With users’ insatiable appetite to watch short-form video on social/mobile, Wochit-created videos give publishers the ability to greatly increase their footprint, as well as tap into video advertising.
Sky Q, which is Sky’s next-generation video service launching in 2016, will incorporate AirTies mesh technology to facilitate whole home pay-TV service on multiple devices. With AirTies mesh technology in Sky Q’s set-top boxes, routers and accessory devices, each is turned into a hot spot, so that linear, OTT and recorded video can be accessed on screens even in harder-to-reach locations in the home.
Online video platform JW Player announced a $20 million Series D round today from existing investors Greycroft Growth, Greenspring Associates, Cueball Capital and e.ventures. JW Player’s CEO and co-founder Dave Otten told me that with the new round the company has raised a total of $46 million, though approximately $11 million of the Series C round was used to buy out prior shareholders.
Topics: JW Player
Ooyala has unbundled its Ooyala IQ analytics product so that video providers can use it on a standalone basis with other video players. Traditionally, Ooyala IQ was only available with the company’ own video platform. Ooyala IQ can now be used via SDKs with JW Player, Brightcove, Kaltura, thePlatform, Flowplayer and YouTube. Tests have been conducted to date, though no implementations have yet gone live.
Fraud in video advertising is a significant problem causing billions of dollars in losses throughout the industry. To help drive a common understanding and gain consensus around what should be done, last Thursday Videology and White Ops released a valuable new white paper, “Eradicating Bot Fraud: The Path to Zero Tolerance.”
The paper explains all the different causes of video ad fraud, focusing on bots, or non-human traffic, which are considered the most pervasive type of fraud. Bots distort the market because they trigger an ad view even though no human being ever actually saw the ad. Bots are active in all types of video, from long-tail to premium. Videology and White Ops found that a higher percentage of traffic at night contains bots and that users age 65+ are 69% more likely to be hosting bots through an outdated browser.
For all the billions of dollars that are now spent on online video advertising, surprisingly little is known about viewers’ reactions and engagement with specific ads, beyond core metrics like view-throughs and click-throughs. To provide far greater insights about ads’ impact, Sticky, a biometric eye-tracking analytics company, is pioneering new approaches combining eye-tracking and facial coding. Jeff Bander, Sticky’s president, recently briefed me and shared data from campaign research it conducted with AOL.
Beachfront Media has launched RISE, a full-service OTT platform for independent video creators to deliver their apps to connected TVs and mobile devices. Beachfront’s CEO and founder Frank Sinton told me that RISE is meant primarily for popular video creators who are becoming their own brands to reach audiences seamlessly across multiple devices.
In-home WiFi networks are getting clogged up as more people turn to their connected TV and mobile devices to stream video. To solve this problem, AirTies, a 10 year-old company specializing in whole home wireless networking with significant success in Europe, has announced its entry into the North American market and its first customer Midcontinent Communications, a mid-sized pay-TV operator.
Brightcove is evolving from helping companies play their videos to helping them make money from those videos; that’s the main theme CEO David Mendels highlighted to me in a briefing yesterday. Brightcove, one of the original online video platform companies, is capitalizing on what David describes as a still highly fragmented video technology landscape that creates a lot of complexity for content providers and marketers.
thePlatform’s co-CEO Marty Roberts has left the company, GeekWire first reported yesterday. Comcast, which owns thePlatform, confirmed the move subsequently in a statement (see below). Roberts had been with thePlatform for 9 years, beginning as VP, Marketing, then as SVP, Sales and Marketing, and finally as co-CEO, with Jamie Miller. Both were appointed in May, 2014, upon prior CEO Ian Blaine’s departure.
thePlatform’s mpx system has been chosen by Parsifal Entertainment Group for backend video management and publishing for STARZ PLAY Arabia, a new SVOD service in Middle East and North Africa markets. Parsifal is a Swedish media company that STARZ tapped a year ago to assist with its international rollout.
AppNexus has revealed beta test results of its programmatic video ad buying product, saying that clients using the product found 10x to 100x improvements in audience reach, video engagement/click-through increases of 300% or more and reduction in buying costs of 50%-60%. AppNexus plans to release the video ad buying product to all its customers on September 30th.
Looking to provide TV networks with a new advertising opportunity when viewers watch programs on their mobile and connected TVs, ad technology provider Watchwith has introduced new in-program ads tied to the context of the shows.
Watchwith’s machine-vision technologies identify a program’s details on a frame-by-frame basis creating metadata so that highly relevant, interactive ads can be overlaid at particular moments. The in-program ads, such as promos, tune-ins, e-commerce and polls, can be IAB standard or Watchwith native formats. The in-program inventory can be sold direct by the TV network or automated via programmatic exchanges.
Adobe announced a programmatic ad platform for advertisers and media publishers as part of its Adobe Marketing Cloud. On the publisher side, the programmatic offering, now available in beta, will be part of Adobe Primetime, Adobe’s video management and monetization platform for TV networks and pay-TV operators.
Video supply-side ad platform Altitude Digital has reduced the level of bot/non-human traffic (NHT) to under 1% of its video ad inventory. The milestone is the result of a 6-month initiative to improve quality, using fraud filtering and reporting technology in partnership with Integral Ad Science. The objective was to proactively filter bot/NHT inventory before it is seen by advertisers.
Topics: Altitude Digital
The range and quality of online original programs is unquestionably improving as investments by OTT services soar. What gets far less attention - but is equally important - is that the viewers’ actual experience watching these new programs must be high quality and free of buffering/other annoyances. The best content in the world will not make up for lousy delivery. Increasingly, a TV-quality level of experience is where viewers set their expectations.
Fortunately there was some good news this week on the quality of experience front, with Conviva reporting mid-year 2015 quality metrics gleaned from analyzing billions of video streams worldwide. Some of the key data points, according to Conviva’s mid-2015 Viewer Experience Report, were:
Yesterday, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced a multi-faceted 6-year deal in which MLBAM will pay $600 million to take over distribution and operations of NHL’s GameCenter LIVE and Center Ice online subscription services (including via pay-TV operators), manage all of NHL’s web sites, manage all of NHL Network’s operations (including taking over ad sales) and jointly develop new digital products. As part of the deal, NHL is reportedly getting a 7%-10% stake
in MLBAM, which is also reportedly going to be spun off (finally) from Major League Baseball. (clarification, per MLBAM spokesman, NHL's stake is in BAM Tech, the technology arm of MLBAM)
That’s a mouthful, but what it amounts to is a major expansion in MLBAM’s scope of business, instantly morphing the company from being primarily a provider of technology services supporting rights-holders to being a multi-platform distribution company in its own right. As such, MLBAM may have just become the most disruptive force in sports TV, signaling to every broadcast and cable TV network which has an interest in sports TV - from CBS, ABC, NBC, ESPN and on down the line - that the ground just shifted underneath them. Here’s why.
In a bid to grow its market share among independent online video publishers, JW Player is announcing this morning that it is making the Pro version of its video player free. Important Pro version features include full control over player branding, 9 pre-built skins, social sharing, related video overlays, 5 GB hosting and 25 GB streaming, analytics and player/platform APIs.
Over 1 million organizations currently using the free JW version will be upgraded to Pro. The move applies for all new Pro customers. Existing Pro customers will receive a complimentary upgrade to the JW Premium tier.
Topics: JW Player
Wibbitz, an Israeli text-to-video startup, has raised an $8 million Series B round led by NantMobile, with participation by existing investors. The funds will be used to expand into the U.S. via a new New York City office, headed by CEO and co-founder Zohar Dayan, who brought me up to speed on the company yesterday.
Wibbitz uses natural language processing to quickly turn publishers' text articles into short videos. The process begins with Wibbitz's technology digesting the article via algorithms meant to emulate a human reader's behavior, identifying key people, main points and the theme, resulting in a summary of about 20% of the full article.
iSpot.tv, which monitors ads in over 100 national TV networks and then correlates real-time digital actions such search, social and video viewing, has raised a $21.9 million series B round, led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from existing investor, Madrona Venture Group. The new funds will be used for product development and increased staff.
In a world where ads are everywhere, with TV viewing becoming more fragmented, and viewers distracted by mobile devices, iSpot.tv's value to advertisers is that it helps them understand the TOTAL impact of their TV ads, including "earned" subsequent digital actions.