The video industry could be about to get a whole lot smarter, as IBM announced it will marry its Watson cognitive computing capabilities to its cloud video technology. IBM has been heavily promoting Watson as a way for diverse industries to exploit highly unstructured data to better understand and run their businesses (if you missed the recent “60 Minutes” on how Watson is helping researchers treat cancer, I highly recommend).
With online video increasingly becoming about long-form programming, viewers expect a flawless experience comparable to TV. But one of the complicating factors is that many content providers use application programming interfaces (APIs) from third-party vendors to enable multiple aspects of their experience whether online, mobile web or via apps. These could include APIs for analytics, ad serving, content management, video management, storage, CDN, etc.
While APIs enrich and enable the experience, when they fail or suffer degraded performance, the viewer is impacted and the content provider’s brand and business model suffer. Failures or reduced performance can happen for all kinds of reasons: new releases, insufficient testing, custom implementations, under capacity during peak load times, etc. Worse, given their lean staffs, content providers often don’t even know about failures, until viewers have surfaced them (many of us have no doubt been in this role, for example, tweeting about real-time problems).
Topics: Wicket Labs
Popular online video platform JW Player now supports virtual reality and 360-degree video. With over 2 million publishers using its platform, the new capabilities could help further fuel VR and 360-degree video which have become key priorities for large companies including Google, YouTube, Samsung, Facebook and others.
Topics: JW Player
Operative has officially launched Operative Compete, a SaaS platform for publishers to centrally manage all of their programmatic partners. Operative Compete works for display and video inventory and across header bidding and waterfall set-ups. A beta version of Operative Compete has been in use by Outdoor Channel, Rolling Stone, Us Weekly, Nasdaq and Meredith Corporation.
Programmatic is becoming a bigger part of the advertising landscape, with eMarketer forecasting that $25.2 billion, or 73% of all U.S. display and video advertising will be transacted programmatically in 2016, rising to $37.9 billion, or 82% of spending, in 2018. eMarketer cites two reasons for the surge in programmatic: buyers’ and sellers’ increased comfort using automation and technology to transact, and increasing demand for audience-driven buying.
Flash became popular in the early 2000s for good reason - it added interactivity and polished design to the Web. Over the last few years, Flash has been operational and has been very important when using websites like YouTube and Hulu, among other sites.
However, with the emergence of HTML5, especially since the beginning of 2016, the Flash ad has seemingly become useless and has lost trend over the past few years. There are predictions that showing Google will finally close this ad type by the end of this year, 2016. I also predict that the majority of advertisers will need to shift their video ad supply to be delivered in HTML5 format, while currently, about 30% of the ads worldwide are in the HTML5 player (according to Selectmedia’a server stats from Aug/2016).
Multi-screen video app platform You.i TV has raised a $12 million Series B round, led by Time Warner Investments and including new investor Vistara Capital Partners and existing investor Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors. Funds will be used for product development and channel partner development. You.i TV includes among its customers Sony Crackle, Turner Broadcasting, Rogers Communications and Corus Entertainment.
Header bidding has been in the news a lot recently as a new technique for content publishers to optimize their ad inventory sold through programmatic exchanges. Header bidding has now come to video advertising as well, but as usual, there are unique new challenges. To better understand the issues and how to address them, I recently did a Q&A with Ron Dick, who is CEO and founder of Cedato, a video technology provider.
VideoNuze: Why has header bidding been so much in the news recently?
Ron Dick: Last year, header bidding - the new “programmatic kid on the block” arrived. It sounded like a great alternative to the problematic waterfall model that advertisers and publishers had been using. In theory it seemed really promising, offering each impression to multiple demand sources simultaneously and increasing reach by opening the process to as many potential buyers as possible.
I'm pleased to present the 335th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up this week, Colin and I dig into Disney’s new $1 billion investment in BAMTech, the technology spin-off of Major League Baseball Advanced Media. We both like the move as it further positions Disney to capitalize on online delivery, while protecting itself from ongoing changes in viewers’ behavior. In this case, Disney’s sheer size gives it the resources to keep its options open.
Next up, Colin and I were both surprised by Hulu’s move earlier this week to jettison its free, ad-supported viewing service to a new partnership with Yahoo. Colin wrote a great piece earlier this week listing the 5 most important reasons why he thinks this was a mistake, which we discuss. Hulu continues evolving away from its roots, as it prepares to launch its skinny bundle next year, which brings its own set of challenges.
Listen now to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 51 seconds)
Say this for Disney - in just the past couple of years or so it has moved to cover virtually every bet for how online video might impact the company in the future.
With its Maker Studios acquisition, Disney expanded into YouTube-style content creation for kids and millennials. With DisneyLife, it’s moving into SVOD entertainment beyond its pivotal output deal with Netflix. Now with Hulu, it’s addressing cord-cutting and the potential of skinny bundles (as well as with deals with DirecTV Now, Sling TV and PlayStation Vue). And finally, with its new $1 billion BAMTech investment, it’s adding platform capabilities for direct-to-consumer live sports streaming. Plus, with the forthcoming ESPN OTT service, it will test its own direct-to-consumer sports offering.
On Monday, online video platform Kaltura announced that it has raised a $50 million “pre-IPO” funding from Goldman Sachs’ Private Capital Investing group. With the new investment, Kaltura has raised $165.1 million across 6 different rounds. Kaltura said the new capital will be used to “extend its footprint across all six continents, and to further its unique positioning as the ‘Everything Video’ company.”
I caught up with Ron Yekutiel, Kaltura’s Chairman, CEO and Co-founder to learn more about Kaltura’s strategy and the tailwinds that are helping drive the business forward. Kaltura has 450 global employees, with 250 working in R&D in Israel, 120 in the U.S. and the rest spread throughout global offices.
Seeking to build on its market momentum, Extreme Reach is raising its industry profile through an extensive brand refresh and updated positioning as an enterprise solution for TV and video ad workflows. Extreme Reach has long operated relatively quietly, but industry veteran Melinda McLaughlin, who joined the company late last year, is on a mission to educate the industry about the company’s extensive cross-screen capabilities. Melinda brought me up to speed on the brand refresh and positioning last week.
Topics: Extreme Reach
Taboola, a large content recommendation platform, has acquired ConvertMedia, an outstream video ad provider with $50 million in annual run rate revenue and roots in display advertising. Taboola’s thumbnail recommendations at the end of text articles are found widely on major online publishers’ sites. The company provides 14-15 billion of these recommendations on a daily basis to over 1 billion unique users per month.
As I wrote last week and previously, the TV industry is in a race to data enable its ad inventory to retain its value relative to online video alternatives and platforms like Facebook and Google that provide audience data at huge scale. Many technology providers are innovating to provide the software tools necessary for the TV industry to make this transition and the latest example is from clypd, which yesterday introduced Optimize Private Marketplace (PMP), which adds to existing features in clypd’s linear TV PMP offering.
Founded on the belief that video should be as interactive as web sites and apps, startup Verse formally unveiled its interactive video player today. Verse is intended for any video creator who wants to add interactive elements that create immersive, non-linear experiences for viewers.
In a briefing last week Verse co-founders Antonio Bolfo and Michael Lanza, plus publisher Dan Bigman explained that they started the company because as filmmakers and journalists themselves they were looking for tools to help them tell their stories more creatively, and couldn’t find the required technology.
Apple made an important announcement at its recent Worldwide Developers Conference that marks a significant step toward simplifying online video delivery thereby reducing the cost of content preparation. By announcing support for fragmented MP4 (fMP4) within HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), Apple is bringing the industry closer to the realization of a single format for OTT medial delivery. This could save the OTT industry millions in revenue lost from processing their content across the plethora of formats that exist today.
JW Player announced yesterday that it has added Univision as a new enterprise customer in the first quarter, a significant win for the company. JW Player’s platform is being used in part to support Univision’s streaming of the high-profile Copa America Centenario matches this month, including on its mobile apps.
Video ad tech provider Genesis Media has introduced Trending Topics, enabling advertisers to capitalize on temporary traffic spikes in particular web content. As Genesis Media’s CEO Mark Yackanich explained to me in a briefing, Trending Topics provides unique opportunities to advertisers to hop onto surges in web content triggered by hot cultural events, even before they’ve been detected by Google, Facebook or other sources.
Trending Topics leverages Genesis Media’s core competencies in web content monitoring and analysis. The company is scanning for web content that has the highest velocity, or rapid movement, in page views. Genesis Media then marries this data to its proprietary Page Attention Rank (PAR) which measures users’ attention, retention and time spent to create an index revealing which trending pages represent unusually high value for advertisers based on their objectives.
Topics: Genesis Media
Video ad tech provider Cedato has launched CedatoX, a private video ad marketplace, connecting supply and demand on the Cedato platform at the server level. In a briefing, Cedato’s CMO Dvir Doron told me that the key benefits are simple setup and transactions along with proven revenue lift for participating publishers.
Dvir highlighted that CedatoX addresses the pain point of video transactions being complicated for both sides to configure and maintain. With CedatoX, private transaction terms are set and managed on the platform. The result is more effective yield and fill rates.
IBM Cloud Video has announced Comic-Con HQ and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. as new customers. A partnership of Comic-Con International and Lionsgate, Comic-Con HQ will launch on May 7th with both SVOD and ad-supported options. IBM will provide subscriber and content management, billing, and live streaming across devices. For CBC, IBM will power the ad-supported service that includes 600 different series, online and on mobile devices.
Seeking to simplify and cost reduce the process of launching new OTT services, Brightcove and Accedo have partnered to introduce Brightcove OTT Flow, powered by Accedo, a turnkey OTT solution for media companies.
The solution was developed in response to the companies’ recognition that the OTT launch process typically involves numerous technology providers and custom development which in turn lead to steep development and maintenance costs plus long timelines. In the fast-moving OTT world, these obstacles hinder innovation and competitiveness.