upLynk, which provides a single HD adaptive streaming format, has extended its technology solution to also incorporate native video ad insertion. Whereas traditional video ad insertion requires logic in the video player upLynk moves it all to the server. By integrating the ads with the content this way, upLynk is able to deliver a single continuous adaptive stream to the player. By reducing the player's workload, viewers get a smoother, buffer-free video experience. This in turn builds viewer loyalty and view times, which are critical to ad monetization.
Importantly, Ken Brueck, upLynk's chief marketing officer, explained that the ad insertion feature is a free, standard part of upLynk's work flow. All existing ad decisioning and targeting systems can still used with upLynk, with ad beaconing for measurement moving to the server as well. Because insertion is server-side, there is no SDK that has to be deployed in the video player. There is also no ad URL for ad blockers to use, which effectively renders them useless.
Since upLynk is adaptive, a properly encoded video ad is delivered given the particular playback conditions. Ken said that ads can be encoded in advance and stored by upLynk, or they can be encoded on the fly when called and then stored for subsequent use. Ken noted that Disney is currently using the ad insertion capability for all of its Watch Disney apps, along with using upLynk for streaming content.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, upLynk's approach is to radically simplify the video work flow by encoding video in the cloud just once, in a non-proprietary adaptive format, which can then be played back on platforms like iOS, Android, Windows 8, Roku and online. Content providers don't need to worry about additional transcodes for new formats because upLynk handles all of this.
upLynk is the latest server-side ad insertion solution to hit the market. Just last week, Akamai announced its Ad Integration Services, leveraging mDialog's server side Smart Stream Platform. No doubt others will follow as well. Continued innovation in this area will deliver important benefits for viewers, content providers and advertisers and therefore should be watched closely.