For a glimpse into cloud computing's significant contribution to the successful scaling of online video advertising, yesterday BrightRoll shared some details of its relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) which it has been working with since 2008. According to BrightRoll, AWS now processes 30 billion data points per day in order to deliver 3 billion video ads per month. BrightRoll said in 2013 it delivered over 23 petabytes of content, which will double in 2014. In a related case study, Kenneth Cheung, BrightRoll's senior director of engineering said that "If AWS didn't exist, BrightRoll would be a different company."
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.
There are lots of things to be excited about when it comes to online video, but the main appeal continues to be targeting, according to BrightRoll's latest U.S. Video Advertising Report (free to download). Targeting was cited by 43% of respondents as the most valuable aspect of online video (up from 41% in 2011), far outpacing the next favorite attribute of reach (cited by 28% of respondents). All other attributes had 10% or less appeal.
Like 2011, contextual and behavioral again lead in terms of targeting methodologies, with the former cited as most valuable by about 37% of respondents and the latter by 34%. Demographic and geographic trailed. Behavioral targeting will increase by 24% over 2011 with two-thirds of respondents said that over 40% of their ads in 2012 will include behavioral targeting.
February may be the shortest month of the year, but just less than 3 weeks in, the pace of online video financings has been the hottest since I started tracking this data over a year ago. By my count there have been at least 8 financings announced this month and I suspect I've likely missed a few (please let me know if so). This week brought financings from Clicker ($11M), YuMe ($25M) and TidalTV ($16M), adding to those announced previously: Encoding.com ($1.25M), IVT ($5.5M), Voddler ($3.5M), BrightRoll ($10M) and the big whopper of the month Ustream ($75M) though this one in two tranches.
What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).
Categories: Deals & Financings
Daisy Whitney and I are pleased to present the 34th edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for October 2, 2009.
This week Daisy and I first discuss my post "Break Media Gains Momentum with Branded Content in 2009" in which I describe how Break, a male-focused entertainment community, has used branded content to differentiate itself and increase revenues. Branded content is a relatively new media form where sponsors fund the production process and have significant creative input or outright control.
Break has been able to offer branded content projects as a value ad to sponsors' media buys on its sites by allocating a percentage of the client's media spend to the projects. I describe how Break does this, along with how branded content has helped it separate itself from competitors and grow revenue by a projected 18% this year.
Related, Daisy then talks about pricing trends in the online video advertising market, quoting ad network BrightRoll's CEO Tod Sacerdoti as saying that he's seen CPMs drop by an average of a dollar or more per quarter since launching in 2006. In his view prices have been inflated due to a "false equilibrium" about inventory scarcity. He sees prices continuing to fall into the low teens, a level at which more advertiser's budgets will flow into the online video medium - though not necessarily from TV. Learn more about Tod's predictions for the industry and Daisy's interpretations.
Click here to listen to the podcast (14 minutes, 12 seconds)
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In its release, thePlatform notes that its "role is to make online video publishing a seamless process for our customers...." That's a commonly-shared goal among video platform companies, yet I continue to hear from various content providers that stitching together the various pieces they require into a total solution can be difficult. That's why these kinds of programs, where partner products are pre-integrated, add a lot of value for customers.
Among the many companies thePlatform cites as new partners are quite a few I've written about previously on VideoNuze (click to see each write-up): Aspera, Azuki Systems, BrightRoll, EveryZing, Transpera, Visible Measures, YuMe and others.
(Note: thePlatform is a VideoNuze sponsor)
Below is a first look at comScore's rankings for video ad networks' "potential" reach for July '09. The rankings, which have not yet been publicly shared, reveal a relatively tight clustering of 5 video ad networks - ScanScout, Tremor Media, YuMe, Broadband Enterprises and BrightRoll - with ScanScout capturing the number 1 spot in its first month being fully measured by comScore.
The "potential reach" aspect of these rankings is important to understand. As I explained in June in "Unraveling comScore's Monthly Viewership Data for Online Video Ad Networks," the potential reach numbers account for the aggregate number of viewers of all the sites that the ad network has the right to place ads on. However, as I discussed with Tania Yuki, comScore's director of product management, it's not a perfect measure, though comScore is continually trying to improve it.
The rankings are determined through a combination of the ad networks' self-reported publisher list and comScore's own tracking. If a video network reports that any one publisher accounts for 2% or more of its viewers, comScore requires a letter proving the business relationship. There is also a self-policing mechanism as comScore provides a "dictionary" of all publishers that each ad network reports. Competitors can review the dictionary and appeal to comScore if something appears amiss. Still, there's some looseness in the methodology, and having spoken to a number of industry executives, also a fair amount of concern that it is accurately portraying the industry's true performance.
comScore recognizes the limitations of the potential reach approach and that it is just one way of understanding a video ad network's value. Actual monthly performance is equally important, and comScore has been working with ad networks to implement this reporting as well. As I wrote in June, the "hybrid" approach requires ad networks to insert a 1x1 beacon in their video players. Though this approach also has its limitations, many of the biggest video ad networks are now implementing the beacon, and soon comScore will likely begin reporting actual as well as potential reach.
Video ad networks are a very important part of the online video ecosystem, responsible for placing millions of dollars of ads each month. Importantly they allow a level of targeting and reach that brands seek, but are often unable to attain on their own with a handful of direct site relationships. With the online video medium still relatively new, buyers require data helping them understand their options. However, the comScore data is just a first filter, diligent buyers still must dig in to understand how each network, or individual site meets their needs.
What do you think? Post a comment now.
A monthly reminder that online video remains a work in progress is comScore's viewership data for online video ad networks. Even as someone who follows the industry closely, I find these reports confusing. The press releases often distributed by various online video ad networks touting their progress only adds to the confusion. I touched on this last month, and to clear away some of the fog, last week I spoke to Tania Yuki, comScore's product manager for its Video Metrix measurement service.
comScore's traffic reports are extremely important for the online video industry's growth because they are a key source of data for advertisers, media buyers, agencies and others looking to tap into this new medium. Ad networks in particular are an important part of the online video ecosystem because they provide significant reach, targeting and delivery technology, all of which are required by prospective advertisers.
A key part of the current confusion is that each month comScore's Video Metrix Ad Focus report - which details the total audience of unique viewers for online properties and ad networks - combines both the actual audience of destination properties with the potential reach of video ad networks. For example, here's the top 10 for April:
As you can see, 5 of the top 10 listed are ad networks, whose measurement is potential, while the other 5 are actuals. "Potential" is supposed to represent the aggregate number of viewers of all the sites that the ad network has the right to place ads on. However even the validity of this number is amorphous, because networks are only required to provide comScore proof of their relationships if the site accounts for more than 2% of all streaming or web activity.
Recognizing the need to provide more clarity, comScore has recently made available the option for networks to participate in a "hybrid" measurement approach, meant to track networks' actual viewership. To participate, networks need to place a 1x1 pixel, or "beacon" inside any video player where their ads appear. comScore takes the data reported by the beacons and combines it with its 2 million member panel of users whose behavior it tracks. It reconciles differences between the two through a "scaling" process that looks at the intensity of users' non-video behaviors.
To give a sense of the difference between potential and actual, comScore reports BrightRoll - which along with Nabbr are the only video ad networks to have implemented the beacons by April - as having 26M actual viewers vs. the 62M potential reported.
comScore's hybrid approach, which fits with its recently-announced "Media Metrix 360" service, is an important step forward in providing more clarity on how video ad networks are actually performing. Still, as Tania explained, even the hybrid approach has its own idiosyncrasies. For example, some publishers resist having a network's beacon incorporated into their video player, because they want to receive traffic credit themselves. Further, it is a voluntary program. Tania said that in addition to BrightRoll and Nabbr, other networks like BBE, YuMe and Tremor are all working through the implementation currently.
The actual numbers are important for buyers, so that ad networks' viewership can be assessed on an "apple to apples" basis with online properties, as well as non-video options. Tania said that media buyers tell comScore they value both potential and actual numbers. Though that sounds right to me, I think that for the online video medium to mature, buyers are going to put increasing emphasis on actual performance, particularly as it relates to existing media. That's why recent efforts from YuMe and Tremor to translate online video's impact into TV's gross rating points (GRP) paradigm are also important.
In short, comScore seems to be doing its part to improve reporting clarity. However, this isn't going to resolve itself overnight; the market will continue to experience reporting confusion for some time to come.
What do you think? Post a comment now.
Amid the steady stream of sneak peek press releases I'm sent each day, one I received late Tuesday from Tremor Media, the video ad network and monetization platform, caught my eye.
The release cited March data from comScore indicating that Tremor's network now had potential reach of 137M unique users and 57M unique video viewers (both unduplicated). The former number is from comScore's Media Metrix Ad Focus report and the latter from its Video Metrix Ad Focus report.
In particular, the latter number stuck out because I recalled comScore numbers from just 2 weeks ago that revealed the viewership for the top 10 video sites. Google (YouTube) was #1 with about 100M viewers, and Fox Interactive (mainly MySpace) was #2 with about half the amount, 55M.
comScore's new data meant that Tremor's potential reach was second only to YouTube's actual reach. And if you make the argument that much of YouTube's viewership is still UGC, while Tremor's network focuses solely on premium publishers, Tremor would be #1 in potential reach against premium video, a key point of the release. It's also worth noting that 2 other video ad networks focused on premium publishers also show up in comScore's top 10 for potential unique viewers- BrightRoll with 56M and YuMe with 41M.
Tremor's VP of Marketing Shane Steele and market research manager Ryan Van Fleet walked me through the data further yesterday.
First, it's important to read these numbers carefully, as there's a little bit of apples vs. oranges going on. The Video Metrix Ad Focus report combines actual viewership by the destination sites (e.g. YouTube, MySpace, Yahoo, Hulu, etc.) with potential viewership by the ad networks. The report clearly denotes what's considered "potential." If I understand it correctly then, the comScore numbers for ad networks should be read as "here's the total potential audience of viewers you have access to." However, what percentage of this accessible audience actually gets an ad served by the ad network is only known by the ad network itself.
VideoNuze readers will recall there's been a lot of sensitivity around these comScore numbers, since last summer a minor kerfuffle broke out over comScore's ranking of YuMe's traffic. Initially it attributed MSN's full audience to YuMe, but later revised YuMe's ranking down by only included pages against which YuMe ads could be served. comScore also stated that on an ongoing basis it would report "potential" reach for ad networks based on documented agreements and "actual" reach for those networks that included certain tags. The new Tremor numbers reflect this potential reach measurement.
It's also important to remember that comScore filters its data to arrive at unduplicated reach. As I understand it that means that if for example Tremor had USAToday.com and Fox.com in its network (note Tremor doesn't disclose its publishers except to its advertisers) and a single user watched video at both sites, the user would only be counted once in Tremor's potential reach. I don't know how exactly comScore de-duplicates viewership, but let's assume it's accurate.
The extent of Tremor's reach (along with BrightRoll's and YuMe's), particularly against premium video is an encouraging sign. I've written in the past that key inhibitors of TV ad dollars moving over to online video are both scale and various friction points in the ad buying process. The comScore data demonstrates that a cluster of ad networks is emerging that can deliver against TV ad buyer's reach expectations, while adding new targeting and reporting capabilities unavailable in TV. There have also been recent enhancements to these companies' reporting/analytics (particularly around GRPs) to synch up with TV ad buyers' expectations.
The online video ad model continues to grow and evolve in spite of the current recession. This is particularly important for expensively-produced premium video where effective online monetization is crucial.
Chime in here with a comment if you think the comScore data or its implications needs further clarification.
Over the next few weeks I'll be doing a series of posts on broadband video advertising's key opportunities and challenges, based on briefings with industry players. Advertising has increasingly become the industry's business model of choice, so understanding its future development is critical.
Just as there are advertising networks for Internet display or banner advertising, there are now a number of independent ad networks dedicated to broadband video advertising. These ad networks perform a crucial role in aggregating and selling inventory, creating efficiencies for both publishers and advertisers alike. These are particularly critical functions given how fragmented video is online.
I recently had a chance to catch up with Tod Sacerdoti, CEO/co-founder of BrightRoll, a big independent video ad network, who's in the trenches every day and is as knowledgeable as anyone about today's market and key challenges. BrightRoll is focused on building a network of high-quality publishers offering advertisers full transparency about which sites their ads run on. It is flexible to support all formats, players and units and has served over 1 billion ads to date.
Though BrightRoll just introduced an HD in-banner ad unit, it generally shies away from pioneering new formats, leaving it to publishers to drive the market. Tod believes that technical leadership will be a key differentiator and so BrightRoll builds all its own technology in-house.
For ad networks, the size and quality of their publisher network is obviously critical. BrightRoll's sweet-spot are premium branded sites that it can sell for around $15-25 CPM. This is the middle part of the market, below the "super-premium" sites but above the vast amount of user-generated video which is tough to sell.
Tod breaks down the market's current 10 billion streams/mo. Of the 40% non-YouTube videos, about half of the streams are monetizable, yielding about 2 billion streams. Tod thinks about half of these are sold. Two reasons for such a high unsold ratio are that many premium sites are maintaining minimum CPM requirements and because there are usage spikes that create unsold inventory. One of BrightRoll's key goals is to get the "unsold" server call from premium sites which want to maximize yield on usage spikes.
From Tod's standpoint a big challenge remains lack of standards, and therefore the reluctance of big publishers to fully integrate with ad networks. The IAB has been focusing on video standards which are expected soon. I have thought for a while that broadband video advertising will be driven by big brands diverting budget from TV ad spending. This contrasts with search, where Google in particular has relied on tens of thousands of smaller, ROI-focused advertisers. Tod sees it the same way and therefore is focused on driving high-quality online reach that brands require, along with reliable tracking and reporting.
With so many sites churning out video and hoping to tap advertising budgets, appealing to big brands becomes ever-more important. Between this and the difficulty of finding talented sales people, ad networks like BrightRoll will play an ever-greater role in the industry.
What do you think? Post a comment!
(Note: VideoNuze won't be published tomorrow, March 28th)