Akamai and NBC Sports announced this morning that Akamai will be powering video streaming, site performance and security services for the 2014 Winter Olympics on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app. The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia will run from February 6-23.
NBC Sports plans to stream over 1,000 hours of Olympics content, double what it did 4 years ago from Vancouver. Streaming will include all 15 sports across 98 different events, plus lots of exclusive content such as interviews, athlete profiles and backstories that have become standard Olympics fare.
Interactive video advertising provider Innovid and Cisco are building on their previously announced partnership, announcing an initiative to have ads dynamically delivered to second screens using voice-based metadata from TV programs. Innovid's CTO and co-founder Tal Chalozin showed me a demo last week of Cisco's cloud-based technology analyzing words spoken in TV programming to generate keywords and context. The information was then passed to Innovid which delivered a relevant, interactive ad to the viewer's second screen within a few seconds.
Brightcove announced this morning that it is acquiring Unicorn Media for approximately $49 million, a savvy move to expand into cloud-based video ad insertion, which is particularly beneficial for mobile devices.
Unicorn has differentiated itself by enabling content providers to dynamically insert ads in the cloud, rather than in the video player. By "stitching" ads in the cloud, Unicorn obviates some of the major issues in video ad insertion today, including delays and buffering caused by the video player switching between content and ad playback. These diminish the user experience, in turn causing abandonment which hurts overall consumption and monetization.
Samsung has announced that it has licensed the Reference Design Kit (RDK) from RDK Management to accelerate delivery of next-generation IP video onto new devices. RDK Management is a joint venture between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, with the aim of developing a standardized set of software bundles for set-top boxes.
The RDK is a pre-integrated software bundle, initially developed and licensed by Comcast to create a common framework for powering tru2way, IP or hybrid set-top boxes and gateway devices. The RDK’s software bundle can also power gateway devices, and other devices like connected TVs and other CE devices.
Beachfront Media announced the 2.0 version of its Beachfront Builder mobile video app platform at VideoSchmooze today, including new social, commerce, analytics and video management features. Beachfront's CEO Frank Sinton shared a demo with me last week and provided further details today.
Frank explained that Beachfront's customers have been looking to augment their video apps with more social and community-building capabilities. So with the Beachfront Builder 2.0, content providers can add social feeds from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr, enabling users to engage within the apps themselves. Users can also login to create cross-platform watch later lists, comment and share videos more easily.
Topics: Beachfront Builder
Content recommendation provider Taboola, which I've been tracking since its early days, is now on a $100 million annual revenue run rate, according to co-founder and CEO Adam Singolda, whom I spoke to yesterday. It's the first time Taboola has revealed its revenue profile, and Adam also said the company has also been cash flow positive for several months.
Taboola got its start helping content providers generate more video views on their sites by analyzing their own videos and the sites' users' behaviors and then adding a strip of recommended videos to help recirculate traffic. It then expanded by providing those recommendations to an ever-growing publisher network. In December, 2011, it applied the same underlying predictive technology to article recommendations and also began distributing these through its network. Adam said there are now over 1 million articles and videos, which are recommended 3 billion times/day.
Clearleap has raised a new round of $20 million led by Susquehanna Growth to help accelerate TV Everywhere deployments by content providers and pay-TV operators both domestically and internationally. With the new financing, Clearleap has raised $36 million to date. Clearleap plans to hire 150 employees over the next 18 months.
Late last week online video platform provider Kaltura announced MediaGo, a new offering that allows content providers and smaller pay-TV operators to quickly stand up their own subscription VOD services. Kaltura is positioning MediaGo as a "Netflix-like" video portal which wraps new merchant/billing services and subscription management with core CMS, multi-device player and content preparation features.
TV Everywhere "auto-authentication," which quickly clears pay-TV subscribers to view cable programming on their devices without having to hunt around for their login credentials, is poised to gain further ground based on a new release announced by Synacor yesterday.
The company announced a white label auto-authentication solution for both in-home TVE usage and out of home with its social login using Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (social login was introduced last year, but the auto-authentication part is new). Both are under Synacor's Cloud ID offering and will be available in Q1 '14. The company believes this is the first such combined solution in the market.
When your flagship product's name becomes far better known than your company's name, it's likely time for a corporate identity makeover. That's the logic behind LongTail Video's official name change today to "JW Player" as company CEO Dave Otten told me last week. JW Player is the company's hugely successful video player, now used by over 2 million sites. The company has also changed the name of its online video platform, Bits on the Run, to "JW Platform."
Video-on-demand and pay-per-view provider iN DEMAND has chosen software platform Clearleap to help it move to an all IP terrestrial distribution network for multi-screen delivery. Under the deal, Clearleap will handle 4,000 hours of HD and SD movies per month that iN DEMAND distributes to its cable operator affiliates for their transactional, subscription and free VOD offerings.
Clearleap's CEO Braxton Jarratt told me that iN DEMAND will be able to now limit its use of satellite delivery mainly for live events. Clearleap's management platform is layered on top of iN DEMAND's IP infrastructure, giving the company a single user interface to manage all of its content for quick delivery in multiple formats to cable operators. This is critical to support VOD viewing by subscribers on TVs and other connected devices.
In another sign of how TV and online video are continuing to converge, LiveRail is announcing this morning support for TV-style advertising pods in online video streams, using real-time bidding. The new feature means that content providers can programmatically sell and insert multiple ads in a given ad break, increasing monetization opportunities for long-form content absent additional users or viewership.
While preserving a positive user experience is critical, the reality is that as content providers have continued to push long-form programs online, the hunt for additional revenues has only intensified. According to recent research from FreeWheel, long-form ad loads were up 12% in Q2 '13 year-over-year to nearly 12 ads per 20-minute or longer stream. However, the increase doesn't appear to be affecting the viewer experience yet, as completion rates for mid-roll ads (the most likely place to insert ad pods with multiple ads) stood at 97% for 15-second ads and 91% for 30-second ads.
I'm pleased to present the 199th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. In this week's edition we discuss the new "See It" tool announced in a partnership between Comcast/NBCU and Twitter.
Beginning in November, certain tweets about TV shows will carry the "See It" button. When users click on it, they will be given choices to watch the program now on their mobile device, tune their Comcast X1 set-top to that channel to watch on TV, set their DVR or receive a reminder (more about how See It works here).
Colin and I both like See It's potential to convert the "chatterfest" that now regularly occurs on Twitter around TV shows and live events (sports, award shows, etc.) into higher viewership. Tightly coupling social discovery and the opportunity to immediately watch is very compelling. If Twitter can show See It can actually driving viewership (note, still a big "if"), it would become a very important promotion tool for the TV industry.
We also discuss how See It works with authentication/TV Everywhere, the critical role that Comcast's new IP-based X1 set-tops play in enabling See It, how the rest of the pay-TV industry might adopt See It, and the potential to spread See It to other social sites. See It's widespread adoption will require a lot of TV ecosystem support, but if its value is quickly proven, we believe that could happen.
(Last - Colin and I will both be participating in BroadbandTV Con in Hollywood Nov. 4-6. Come meet us! VideoNuze readers get $75 off conference registration using the code "VideoNuze." Colin will also be hosting a pre-conference workshop.)
Click here to listen to the podcast (17 minutes, 19 seconds)
Multiscreen video ad solution provider Mixpo is introducing today VideoVerify, a new video ad verification tool to combat fraud and substantiate video ad quality. VideoVerify assesses, in real-time, the quality of non-premium, long-tail video ad inventory on video ad exchanges. Based on data that VideoVerify provides, media buyers can block suspicious sites, or conversely, increase exposure on well-performing sites.
VideoVerify works by comparing current ad behaviors against a database of benchmarks Mixpo has built from hundreds of billions of video ad impression records over the past few years. The database includes in-stream, in-banner and in-app ad formats. Mixpo noted that this big data analysis has only recently become possible, and is enabled using Amazon's Redshift cloud-based data warehouse service.
I'm pleased to present the 197th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. At Advertising Week this week in NYC, the dominant theme I heard about was programmatic video advertising. Though it's an important and growing part of the larger video advertising space, it's still early days, so even the very definition of "programmatic" doesn't seem to have clear consensus.
In this week's podcast I explain the 3 main elements of programmatic as I understand them: automating certain buy/sell processes, using data to improve targeting and optimize yield/ROI, and using dynamic pricing models like real-time bidding. Depending on who you talk to, programmatic can refer to one or more of these elements.
One of the key topics of the week was how programmatic can be used by "premium" video content providers/publishers. In the podcast I also discuss this in-depth. I'm personally continuing to get my head around programmatic, so if I've misstated or mischaracterized anything, let me know and/or leave a comment!
Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 22 seconds)
Here's a great example of how robust the cloud has now become: thePlatform, a leading online video publishing company, is announcing a new "Virtual TV Framework" today, that allows pay-TV operators to deliver their FULL linear and on-demand services via the cloud, to any connected/mobile device. Until now, pay-TV operators have mostly offered only VOD or a limited set of linear channels as part of their TV Everywhere initiatives. Now the new Virtual TV Framework will allow them to replicate ALL of their services for cloud-based delivery.
Why does this matter? Because cloud-delivery makes it easier for pay-TV operators to enhance their subscribers' experience with existing services and to develop new ones, while also reducing delivery costs. It's no secret that the landscape for video services has become much more competitive with the advent of innovative OTT options from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and others, so consumers are expecting more from their pay-TV operators. As well, given the high price of pay-TV service, delivering more value has become a key industry priority - this is the essential role of TV Everywhere.
Adobe is announcing today that Turner Broadcasting is its latest customer of Adobe Primetime, the company's multi-screen TV Everywhere and monetization solution. Turner will be using Primetime to power TNT and TBS apps and web sites, along with the Primetime player and dynamic ad insertion, PayTV Pass authentication and Primetime DRM.
Jeremy Helfand, VP Adobe Video Solutions, told me that until now Turner had been using a combination of home-grown and point product solutions, which are being replaced with the Primetime suite. Turner has been the earliest and staunchest supporter of TV Everywhere among cable TV networks, going back 4+ years to the high-profile joint news conference with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, announcing the initiative.
Video ad tech provider Videology is unveiling "Revenue Engine" today, a new product for video publishers to drive premium programmatic ad revenues. Scott Ferber, Videology's chairman and CEO, told me last week that although the vast majority of Videology's business is servicing the demand side (agencies and advertisers), it is expanding its supply side technology offerings to help video publishers gain equal footing in the booming online video ad market.
In our discussion Scott emphasized one particular feature of Revenue Engine - the ability for publishers to do scenario modeling of different variables in order to gain recommendations for optimal inventory pricing. The system works by including available inventory, prior performance data, buy-side criteria and other factors such as minimum pricing requirements.
AOL held its first "Programmatic Upfront" tonight, bringing together a packed house of agencies and brands to hear multiple executives and guest speakers pound home a double message that data and automation are poised to revolutionize advertising, just as they have done on Wall Street. From a purely news standpoint, AOL announced 3 specific things:
1. Clients will be able to buy reserved premium AOL inventory programmatically through the company's AdLearn Open Platform (AOP) beginning January 1, 2014.
2. Major agencies including Accuen, Amnet, Havas Media, Horizon Media and Magna Global have all made programmatic commitments for 2014 (sizes not disclosed), with DigitasLBi, Razorfish and VivaKi considering.
3. New features in AOP including real-time bidding through private marketplaces, cross-screen inventory buying with frequency and optimization, and availability of all ad units for programmatic buying.
Jivox has announced that its interactive video ad platform Jivox IQ now supports content marketing and data driven feeds, both of which can dynamically update ads in real-time. As Diaz Nesamoney explained to me, both are meant to deliver ads that are more timely and relevant to users, across different ad formats and on multiple devices.
Diaz noted that content marketing, which has become a huge industry theme, blurs the line between ads and editorial. With Jivox's new content marketing features, advertisers are able to update their ads/content continuously while their campaigns are underway. The benefit is that ads can change without the traditional step of changing tags. These updated content streams work in 45+ different ad units, such as pre-rolls, display, mobile, etc.