In a bid to re-architect and improve upon how online video ads are inserted, this morning Akamai is announcing Ad Integration Services. With Ad Integration Services, online video ads are dynamically inserted in the cloud and delivered using Akamai's Sola Sphere delivery network, eliminating the typical client-side process of the video player calling for the ads.
As Kurt Michel, director of product marketing for media solutions, explained to me last week, the traditional process often diminishes the user experience. That's because the content itself and the ad are competing for last-mile bandwidth as the video player transitions from the former to the latter. This contention can lead to delays, which in turn leads to viewer abandonment (if you've ever waited for an ad to play you know about this).
Taboola has raised another $15 million, led by Pitango VC, bringing its total to date to $40 million. The Series D financing comes just 9 months after raising its last round of $10 million. Taboola will use the new funds for continued international expansion and product development. CEO and founder Adam Singolda told me the company has 70 employees currently and plans to double in size by the end of 2013.
Taboola's roots are in providing recommendations for content providers to better promote their own video within their sites and also for third-party video to gain wider, targeted distribution. Over the past year Taboola has also leveraged its underlying EngageRank recommendations technology to quietly begin distributing article recommendations as well (I noticed these last month on WSJ.com).
Last week Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn crashed horrifically in the Super G at the 2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, tearing two ligaments and ending her season. Terrifying though it was, it's exactly the kind of video clip (see below) that the skiing world and Vonn's fans want to be able to see immediately.
In this particular situation, Universal Sports, which had the championship's broadcast rights, was able to deliver, posting the clip, which includes audio of Vonn's agonizing cries, within minutes of the incident. As Universal Sports' VP/GM, Digital Media, Elliott Gordon and Director, Streaming Operations, Gus Elliott, explained to me, fast time-to-market drives numerous benefits for the sports network and is enabled by a relatively new relationship with SnappyTV.
Online video ad buying continues to shift toward, but also improve upon, conventional TV ad buying, with the latest evidence that Adap.tv is now optimizing audience targeting against data from Nielsen and comScore.
As Toby Gabriner, Adap.tv's president, explained to me, the process starts with an algorithm the company has developed to predict a publisher's audience composition. The algorithm is based on numerous data "signals" (e.g. content type, time of day, browsing behavior, 3rd party profiling, etc.) that are continuously updated. The audience profiles are then used to focus on impressions that should index high against Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) and comScore Validated Campaign Essentials (VCE).
I'm pleased to present the 165th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week I first share some reflections from spending 2 days at the NATPE conference earlier this week, focusing on content creators' attitudes toward online video.
That's a segue into discussing "binge-viewing," which will get a lot more visibility starting today, as Netflix releases all 13 episodes of its high-profile original series "House of Cards" (I watched the first 5 minutes of Chapter 1 this morning, and I'm hooked already). We discuss how binge-viewing is changing viewers' expectations and influencing content creators. For more about the pros and cons of Netflix's binge-viewing strategy, see my prior analysis here.
Next we talk about eyeIO, and its THX certification announced yesterday. Colin provides a layman's explanation, that augments his post yesterday, of why this is so important along with the context of H.264 and the new H.265 standard just approved by the ITU. We also review the benefits to content providers and viewers.
Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 36 seconds)
Beachfront Media has announced that its Beachfront Builder video application development platform now supports connected TVs from LG and Samsung, along with connected TV devices such as Roku and most Google TV products. In addition to these devices, apps built using Beachfront Builder also run natively in iOS devices, Android phones/tablets, HTML5/Web and Windows 8. Beachfront apps also include analytics and monetization in the form of video pre-rolls.
Topics: Beachfront Builder
Conviva, whose software preemptively optimizes video streams on multiple platforms, has renewed and expanded its existing deal with HBO for another 6 years. Conviva's original deal with HBO dates to May, 2011. Conviva has been supporting HBO's HBO GO TV Everywhere domestic distribution, and under the new deal it will be extended to support international distribution as well. HBO's parent, Time Warner, is also an investor in Conviva.
Ever had the experience of hearing about a movie, being intrigued by it, wondering when/where you'll be able to see it, and then, as time passes, forgetting all about it? GoWatchIt, a free service, cleverly solves this problem, allowing you to search for and save movies to a queue and then alerting you as they become available in the future, whether in theaters, on DVD/Blu-ray or online/on-demand.
Now GoWatchIt has partnered with the Sundance Institute, whose 2013 Film Festival is currently underway. Sundance is historically the place where some of the hottest independent films are debuted. However, given the nature of film distribution cycle times, frequently these movies won't actually become available for viewing for many months.
Digitalsmiths has announced deals this morning to power personalized video search and discovery across all platforms for Time Warner Cable, and for i.TV, the TV guide app for iPhone/iPad, Nintento Wii U, AOL, Huffington Post and others.
Ben Weinberger, Digitalsmiths CEO, also told me this morning that the company's "Seamless Discovery" technology is now powering over 1 billion transactions per month, which consist of user requests for search, recommendations and other data. At this level, Ben believes Digitalsmiths is now the largest provider of search and recommendations in North America, its main geographic customer area.
At the recent VideoSchmooze, Noah Levine, Senior Manager, Product Evangelism at Adobe Auditude delivered a short, high-impact presentation on the key technology and consumer behavior changes sweeping through the TV industry, and the business challenges these are creating.
He also provided a high-level overview of Adobe's Project Primetime, a suite of product and services to deliver, monetize and measure video across devices. Below is a video of Noah's presentation. If you'd like a copy of the slides, please contact Noah directly at his email address on the final slide.
At the recent VideoSchmooze, Colin Dixon from The Diffusion Group interviewed Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo in a case study focused on innovation. While much of this year's media coverage of Aereo has focused on broadcasters' copyright litigation against it, far less attention has been paid to the perfect storm of technology and consumer trends that have enabled Aereo.
In fact Chet says that even 2 years ago Aereo would not have been possible. In the interview Chet details how the striking reduction in costs / increase in performance for key enablers like bandwidth, storage, cloud computing and transcoding are driving the business. Chet explains how the entire computational industry is subsidizing these trends, which Aereo and others are capitalizing on. In addition, Chet discusses how shifting consumer perceptions are creating an opening for innovative new business models like Aereo.
The interview provides fascinating insights on today's technology trends from a world-class technologist that all media and technology companies - startups and incumbents - need to be paying attention to.
A recurring theme in the video industry this year has been the proliferation of video-enabled devices and fragmentation of viewing. This has resulted in vastly increased complexity for content providers to prepare and deliver the properly formatted video efficiently and cost-effectively to all these devices. Recognizing this escalating challenge, online video platform provider thePlatform is announcing new "Smart Workflow" features in its mpx video publishing system this morning, to accelerate the formatting and delivery of video to multiple devices.
Veveo, a provider of search solutions for connected devices, has debuted a new voice and natural language-based, "conversational interface" technology for video search. Available for trial currently and for release in Q1 '13 in its Reveal 3.0 product, the new voice capability is targeted to pay-TV operators, connected device manufacturers and set-top box providers eager to give users more flexibility in how they navigate the ever-increasing array of video choices.
Adobe has announced the beta release of its full Project Primetime publishing, monetization and analytics platform for video delivered to connected devices. Adobe is also introducing two new Primetime components, MediaWeaver, a dynamic ad insertion service and Primetime Media Player, a cross-platform player tightly integrated with analytics components of Primetime.
Adobe is positioning Primetime as a comprehensive solution for professional content providers eager to move past cobbling together multiple products that often result in sub-optimal user experiences with online and mobile video. Primetime was originally unveiled in February, with the Highlights component that allowed quick clip and metadata creation from live programming.
The debate rages over whether content is king or distribution is king, but according to T3Media's CTO Mark Lemmons, the "superhero" of the digital video world is actually metadata. In this 5 minute video Mark explains 3 specific reasons why: 1) metadata directly impacts the value of film and TV, 2) metadata bridges archive content to the digital world and 3) metadata makes the relationship between separate assets extremely rich and granular. If you're interested in a quick, but valuable primer on metadata, watch below.
Innovid is announcing this morning that its iRoll interactive video ad format is now also available for delivery in mobile to smartphones and tablets. This means that the same iRoll ad can be used online and in mobile, from the same ad server providing unified cross-platform analytics. Innovid's CEO Zvika Netter told me he believes this is a first for in-stream video ads. Innovid is also announcing that BrightRoll has become the first network to adopt the mobile iRoll and that several multi-screen campaigns are already live.
Continuing its push to bring more efficiency to the world of online video ad buying, yesterday, Adap.tv introduced "Unified Planner," a media planning solution for agencies and advertisers to optimize campaign performance. The idea is for buyers to have access to multiple data sources, and then easily buy recommended inventory, optimize the ongoing campaign and measure results.
According to Adap.tv, Unified Planner allows buyers to create online video media plans including goals such as recommended sites for targeting desired audiences, expected reach and frequency for the sites, estimated performance, and costs. Inventory is sourced from direct buys and online marketplaces. Once the plan is created, Unified Planner allows changes to be made with visibility into campaign impact. Buying is done through spot, RTB, upfront commitment or direct buys through automated RFPs.
This morning Akamai is taking the wraps off Sola Media Solutions, a suite of services aimed at content providers struggling to keep up with the steep challenges posed by the explosion of online video content, rapid device proliferation and changing viewer expectations.
Sola Media Solutions replaces the prior "Akamai HD Network" branding. As Ahmet Ozalp, Akamai's VP, Products, Media Division explained to me, Sola builds on the company's traditional CDN strengths, and also introduces new modular services that address particular online video work flow, storage, security and delivery needs.
Adobe has announced that its Adobe Pass technology notched a 10x increase during the first half of 2012 in the number of video streams it authenticated. Big contributors included NCAA March Madness, UEFA Euro 2012 soccer and the NBA playoffs, along with entertainment content from Disney and Turner cable networks. Adobe Pass also powered authentication for the London Olympics, which drove 88 million authenticated streams.
Adobe Pass is now used by 40+ sites and mobile apps from 25 content providers, and is integrated by 150 pay-TV operators covering 98% of U.S. homes. That's considerable progress for a technology which was only announced a year-and-a-half ago.
thePlatform is introducing new commerce capabilities as part of its mpx video management platform today. Marty Roberts, thePlatform's SVP, Sales and Marketing, told me last week that as online video continues to mature, customers are looking to monetize content through every release window, so transactions have gained importance.
thePlatform's commerce capability allows service providers and content owners to create business rules for pay-per-use, download-to-own, season passes, movie bundles and other special promotions in addition to ad-supported and subscription models. Marty noted that the new commerce system enables complimentary monetization to electronic sell-through already available for certain titles via iTunes, Amazon and other third-parties.