Monday, October 21, 2013, 10:03 AM ET|Posted by Will Richmond
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.
Mark Trefgarne, CEO and co-founder of LiveRail, told me that powering ad pods with programmatic has been complex to date. With LiveRail's new ad pod feature, content providers can execute multiple real-time bidding auctions, across multiple third-party buyers, to fill out an ad pod of pre-specified length. LiveRail's new ad pod feature would help customers like A&E, CBS and MLB beef up their ad breaks accordingly.
Importantly, Mark explained that the content provider can set rules for how many ads can appear, in which position in the pod's sequence they'll appear, and what the pricing floor for each slot in the sequence should be. All of these will be factored into the bidding process, so buyers understand exactly what they'll be getting.
In addition, LiveRail's Checkpoint database and tools can auto-detect the same creative, thereby preempting multiple bidders from running the same ad within the same pod.
Programmatic was the big buzzword at the recent Advertising Week in NYC. A particular focus in the programmatic community is driving greater usage by premium content providers who have traditionally relied on direct selling. By enabling ad pods using programmatic, LiveRail is helping replicate more of TV's model in online video, which can only help to accelerate programmatic's adoption in long-form content.