Video streaming (OTT and CTV) has rapidly accelerated in terms of adoption and strategic importance for media companies. It has enabled a dynamic shift in how we consume content and changed the model for content production and distribution. At the same time, it has created a host of new challenges—especially when it comes to advertising.
This rapid growth and consumer behavior shift has also highlighted the increasing importance of these channels as core revenue generators, witness the acquisitions of Pluto, Tubi, Xumo and the high profile launches of HBO Max, Paramount+, and others. The revenue numbers are large and growing. Hulu is on track to do $2.7 billion in 2021 ad revenue alone, Fox expects Tubi revenue to more than double, and eMarketer projects that CTV ad spending will increase 40% from 2020 to 2021.
IRIS.TV and SpotX (part of Magnite) announced this morning they’re partnering to offer industry-standard contextual targeting segments to SpotX’s video ad supply. The move will give ad buyers the ability to target and verify the category of video on all screens.
SpotX will be able to give ad buyers access to video-level metadata that has been “IRIS-enabled” for targeting in CTV and digital video, driving more value for content owners, especially in in brand-safe CTV where viewership is soaring and ad performance is superior.
Noting the challenges the partnership will overcome, SpotX’s SVP of Strategic Partnerships Kristen William said, “Our clients have been demanding increased visibility into the content they are advertising in, but access to contextual data is extremely complicated as it comes in a variety of formats as well as being locked behind content management systems and video players.”
For more on how IRIS.TV enables video data for contextual segmentation to create more value for both ad buyers and content owners, see my interview below with VP of Publisher Partnerships Lauren Gabriele. Lauren will also be moderating a session at this week’s VideoNuze Connected TV Ad Summit virtual “Targeting in CTV: The New Data Paradigm,” with Xumo, Index Exchange and Icon Media Direct.
Extreme Reach is acquiring Australia-based Adstream to create a comprehensive platform that will streamline workflows for global brands activating video campaigns across devices and services. The combined company is addressing pain points for brands that have arisen from the fragmentation of video consumption. There is a lot more complexity because every ad that is served must be properly formatted to deliver an appropriate user experience and tracked so that talent is accurately compensated.
Evergent has unveiled its Customer Care and Billing (CCB) 3.0 platform, to help content and service providers gain more agility in their video monetization. Evergent was founded in 2007 but has largely flown below the radar. It now serves over 700 million accounts in 175 countries across a customer base including AT&T, FOX, Sony Entertainment Television and Etisalat. CCB 3.0 allows customers to more easily create and manage product configurations, promotions and packaging in order to drive new revenue.
Ad spending on SpotX’s platform increased by 42% in 2020 vs. 2019, driven mainly by over-the-top/connected TV clients who now comprise almost 70% of overall ad spending on the platform. SpotX said that after a Covid-driven pullback in Q2, platform spending globally grew 70% in Q4 ’20 vs. Q4 ’19. North America is still the dominant territory for SpotX, accounting for 88% of ad spending in 2020, though EMEA and APAC grew by 107% and 66% respectively in 2020 vs. 2019.
Comcast Technology Solutions (CTS) has integrated technology from ad server Flashtalking via API which will help streamline work flows and campaign optimization across linear and online video. Integrating with the CTS Ad Management Platform will centralize linear and online video creative management. Richard Nunn, VP/GM of Advertiser Solutions at CTS said in a briefing that the integration would provide insights on the performance of campaign creative in online video channels to drive greater ad personalization in linear viewing.
Crackle Plus is expanding its relationship with video supply-side platform SpotX to help monetize new distribution across a variety of free ad-supported streaming TV (“FAST”) services, the companies announced this morning. Crackle Plus is now available on 29 devices and services and has announced deals with fuboTV, Philo, VIDAA, VIZIO and Xumo which it estimates will expose Crackle Plus networks to over 60 million new viewers in 2021.
Sell-side ad platform Magnite has unveiled an open beta of its “Unified Decisioning” solution which gives CTV and OTT publishers the ability to have direct sold and programmatic demand compete for available inventory. By doing so publishers can maximize yield while the decisioning still respects deal priority and business rules such as frequency capping and competitive separation.
Paige Bilins, Magnite’s VP of Video Product Management said “publishers are eager to tap into the efficiencies that programmatic provides without relinquishing the control they are used to when selling directly to buyers.” Magnite said that Unified Decisioning works with all major ad servers.
Video ad management platform Beachfront has announced that ad buyers can now use its technology to access Canoe’s premium VOD ad inventory. Canoe powers VOD and linear addressable advertising in 38 million U.S. households that subscribe to pay-TV from Comcast, Charter and Cox, which are Canoe investors.
In a briefing, Chris Maccaro, CEO of Beachfront, told me that the company has been investing in the solution for several years and sees an opportunity to improve VOD yield by exposing digital-centric buyers to premium VOD inventory. Chris believes that as VOD inventory is made available to agencies, brands, demand side platforms and others for automated programmatic buying, yield will improve and prices will increase.
Akamai has announced a set of new live streaming features for its platform in anticipation of a viewership surge in late 2020 and into 2021. Akamai forecasts that a single event could have 50 million concurrent streamers, approximately double what events have seen in the past. The company cited the Summer Olympics which have been pushed to 2021 and UEFA EURO as sporting events expected to drive record live streaming in narrow time windows.
Akamai said the pandemic generated peak traffic on its platform exceeding 100 terabits per second every day during Q2 ’20; for context, the 100 terabit per second threshold was broken for the first time in October ’19. Akamai cited video games, in-game live events and esports tournaments, in addition to SVOD/AVOD consumption, as key traffic drivers.
To support the expected surge in live streaming, Akamai announced the following platform enhancements:
Video ad platform SpotX has made an undisclosed investment in SpringServe, an independent OTT and connected TV ad server, extending an existing partnership. SpotX is owned by RTL Group; it says it reaches 50 million CTV households per month and it acquired server-side ad insertion provider Yospace last year. SpringServe was founded in 2015 and serves publishers and content owners.
The deal underscores how viewership is moving to OTT and CTV, driving publishers and content owners to seek stronger monetization of every view and manage their inventory in more sophisticated ways across programmatic and direct sold. I reached out to both companies for more details on what the deal will mean for them, the broader market and their respective roadmaps going forward as viewership of OTT and CTV accelerates. Below is what they shared with me:
Continuing our series of periodic short interviews with industry thought-leaders about the the pandemic's impact, I'm pleased to share a Q&A with Field Garthwaite, CEO and Co-Founder of IRIS.TV. Read on to learn Field's perspective on how COVID has affected the video marketplace, why connected TV has benefited, what video publishers can do to better monetize their inventory and what the critical upcoming challenges.
VideoNuze: How has COVID affected the video marketplace overall?
Field Garthwaite: While overall, publishers are seeing large increases in user engagement across web, mobile, and Connected TV (CTV) there are also several additional trends unique to the pandemic:
A joint solution announced by two Comcast companies, FreeWheel and Comcast Technology Solutions, will enable programmatic advertising for set-top box video-on-demand (VOD) inventory. TV networks, content providers and pay-TV operators will be able to use the solution, which taps FreeWheel’s ad targeting and decisioning along with CTS’s Ad Store for real-time creative distribution.
The companies said in a release that “creative conditioning of advertisers’ video creative requires special considerations in the STB VOD advertising environment” have hindered programmatic approaches that are common in connected TV and OTT. Richard Nunn, VP/GM of Advertiser Solutions at CTS said “until today, it has not been possible to effectively monetize this content in the same programmatic fashion as other video inventory.”
Roku has launched OneView Ad Platform, a demand side platform (DSP), enabling ad buyers with a set of self-serve tools to create and manage campaigns across screens and ad formats. The move positions Roku to further increase the value of viewing data from its 40 million active accounts to help ad buyers allocate their TV, OTT and digital spending more effectively. As Dan Robbins, VP of Ad Marketing and Partner Solutions told me in a briefing “OneView Ad Platform is informed by TV but built to be omnichannel.” Launch partners include Drizly, Experian, Intuit TurboTax, Lexus and others.
Video adtech provider Beachfront has launched in beta a pod bidding solution for connected TV ads. The solution allows publishers to programmatically sell an entire ad pod while pricing each ad differently and guaranteeing positions within the pod. Guaranteeing first position would be especially valuable for CTV publishers to be able to optimize for advertisers who are willing to pay a premium to be in the first slot of a pod.
Beachfront founder and president Frank Sinton told me in a briefing that this kind of preference has been available in a direct sale model for CTVs, but not in programmatic. Choosing first position has long been part of the traditional TV buying world, but Frank said that because a lot of the ad infrastructure used for CTV is based on desktop and mobile this capability has been missing. CTV advertising is growing strongly, with eMarketer forecasting over $10 billion in spending next year.
Topics: Beachfront Media
Verizon Media announced a number of updates to its platform today to improve video delivery and monetization for its content provider customers.
With monetization, Verizon has unveiled Verizon Media Smartplay Prebid, which better optimizes the value of content providers’ inventory. In a briefing last week, Darren Lepke, Head of Video Product Management, told me that the server-side integration will expose inventory to more demand partners and create more price transparency in the bidding process. Darren said turning it on is a simple checkbox in the platform UI. Verizon Media has also released enhanced advertising data and analytics tools to drive better performance.
Topics: Verizon Media
In all the virus craziness of the past few days, I didn’t have an opportunity to share an update on WURL, which last week announced key growth metrics for its first full year of operations. WURL is benefiting from all of the key trends around connected TVs (CTVs), CTV advertising, programmatic, direct-to-consumer and cord-cutting.
WURL offers a solution to ad-supported video providers and producers to efficiently deliver their live, linear and VOD content onto all of the most popular CTV devices. This is critical because, as has been said a million times in recent years, content providers are not technology companies. With the rare exception of behemoths like Netflix, Disney and Amazon, the vast majority of content providers don’t have the specific technology expertise in-house to navigate each CTV device’s detailed specs for stream formats, close captions, metadata and other things.
Late last week, video ad management platform Beachfront and XITE announced a collaboration in which Beachfront is powering XITE’s VOD ad inventory on IP-enabled set-top boxes. XITE is a Netherlands-founded music video service that reaches 100 million households in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Ben Abbatiello, Beachfront’s VP of Advanced TV explained in an interview that a critical role that the company is playing is empowering XITE with more granular, IPv6-based audience targeting on set-top boxes, an improvement vs. the single home IP address format of IPv4. Beachfront has been investing in cross-screen addressability that bridges STB and connected TV inventory. IPv6 will become more essential for enhanced targeting as consumers add multiple viewing devices in their homes.
With all the billions of dollars that are being invested in high-quality original TV shows, piracy prevention is becoming more important than ever. Content security is an imperative for video providers to keep valuable assets from being consumed illicitly online. Last Friday, Akamai introduced support for watermarking content to help prevent piracy and to help trace leaks to their source.
I’m pleased to present the 483rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Colin was attending IBC show in Amsterdam and on this week’s podcast, he shares his key takeaways from the show related to multiple CDN management, data, artificial intelligence and machine learning for business optimization. Colin also touches on a few emerging technology solutions he saw that could have a big impact on the industry’s future.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 8 seconds)