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)
I’m pleased to present the 454th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Colin’s site published a provocative piece this week focused on whether YouTube is doing as much as it should for its vast network of content creators. In our first segment this week we debate this question. Colin asserts YouTube isn’t, while I counter it’s likely doing as much as it feels it needs to, and especially focuses on its biggest creators. We do agree that with YouTube’s audience still growing and advertisers returning, the question may be moot anyway.
We then dig into this week’s deal by Brightcove to acquire Ooyala’s OVP business, joining two traditional competitors. For me the deal illustrates the rising bar video platforms must meet for both publishers and users, driven by in-house technology found in Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube and others and the need for greater scale. From a strictly financial standpoint, Brightcove’s move seems savvy and opportunistic.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 3 seconds)
Brightcove has inked a deal to acquire Ooyala’s online video platform (OVP) business for $15 million, with $6.25 million paid in cash and the remainder in Brightcove stock. The deal joins two companies that were among the earliest entrants in the video platform industry in the mid-2000s and competitors ever since.
Ooyala had been previously bought by Australian telco Telstra in a couple of moves in 2012 and 2014 for over $300 million. Then it and other Telstra video investments were written down completely in 2016 and 2018, resulting in over $500 million in charges. Last fall Ooyala was spun off to management.
Cadent has unveiled its Cadent Advanced TV Platform, enabling national ad buyers and TV networks to achieve a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness in addressable TV advertising. In a briefing, Cadent’s Chief Product Officer Eoin Townsend and Chief Marketing Officer Paul Alfieri emphasized that today’s national TV ad buyers are looking to shift to data-centric approaches that enable customized, targeted audience segments at scale. This is what Cadent Advanced TV Platform is built to deliver.
Cadent Advanced TV Platform can access 70 million addressable homes (i.e. those with set-top boxes that are individually identifiable and enabled) with ads across cable, broadcast and OTT content. The new platform has integrated all the elements required to make a scaled, targeted buy - choosing specific pay-TV/OTT providers, number of homes, relevant data sources, KPIs, budgets and more and melded them into a cohesive workflow that will feel familiar to most people who have bought digital advertising. Once the parameters are set the platform presents different campaign options to the buyer.
I’m pleased to present the 440th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week Bhavesh Vaghela, CEO of Paywizard, joins us for a fascinating discussion about how video service providers can use technology to become more customer-centric and competitive. Paywizard specializes in subscription, billing and CRM software solutions for the video industry which enable actionable customer insights.
Bhavesh shares highlights of the company’s recent survey that focuses on the role positive customer experiences play. He also gives multiple examples of how different operators are learning to use data to improve retention and drive new revenues. Bhavesh explains how there’s still a real learning curve among both pay-TV operators and OTT providers. Using data to deliver a positive user experience requires real organization change and focus.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 23 seconds)
In my ten years of experience in major event streaming, including Super Bowls and Olympics, I’ve found that every big event is unique – and every event has something unexpected happen. But successful streaming always has three essential ingredients – clear objectives, comprehensive testing, and operational playbooks.
Know Your KPIs
The ultimate objective may be to make the live-stream experience flawless. Realistically, that can’t happen for all viewers all the time in all places. Audience expectations, while rising steadily overall, vary locally. And there are cost-performance tradeoffs to navigate.
Amid all that variability, you need to establish specific KPIs to benchmark performance measurement, comprehensive testing, and continuous improvement. Start with the basics – viewers’ time-to-access the stream and rebuffering percentage. Include audience satisfaction and feedback if measured. And be precise about time-to-recovery objectives. For example, when servers go down, software components fail, or unexpected things happen on the Internet, does the workflow have the resiliency to recover quickly, even imperceptibly to the viewer?
I’m pleased to present the 437th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Yesterday’s Q2 Video Monetization Report from FreeWheel put an exclamation mark on just how significantly connected TVs are changing the TV and online video landscape. In Q2 ’18 CTVs accounted for 41% of premium video views, up from just 1.2% in Q2 ’13. In that time, desktop views have dropped from over 81% share, to just 17%.
In today’s podcast we discuss the rise of CTVs and in particular their impact on advertising. We also touch on other interesting data points from FreeWheel’s Q2 VMR.
We then switch gears as Colin reports on highlights of his time at the IBC show in Amsterdam. Tops on his list was the outsized presence of Google and Android TV at the show and its potential impact.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 28 seconds)
I’m pleased to present the 433rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up this week we discuss new research showing that 50% of Facebook users haven’t heard of Facebook Watch and another 24% have heard of it, but never used it. The anemic interest demonstrates to us how difficult it is to shift how people customarily use a product (Newsfeed in Facebook’s case) to something totally different (Watch).
We then switch gears to explore how AI is being innovatively used in video. Colin shares several examples, the most interesting of which is the BBC’s upcoming BBC 4.1 on the evenings of Sept. 4th and 5th. On these nights BBC is using AI to mine its archives in order to find “hidden gems” from past years.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 3 seconds)
Video ad tech provider Cedato has introduced its Contextual Lookalike Targeting technology, which uses machine learning to analyze performance data from billions of videos ads in order to decide when and where to serve a new ad to suit an advertiser’s KPIs. The new technology leverages Cedato’s Predictive Knowledge Graph, which is based on data from 400 billion plus video ads.
Marketing technology provider 4C has launched Scope, a platform for unifying cross-channel advertising across digital and TV. Scope allows marketers to gain audience insights, execute campaigns across screens and gauge performance, all via a self-service workflow. Scope spans premium content in Apple News, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, NBCUniversal, Mediaocean, Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter.
Scope is aimed at helping marketers succeed with audience-based campaigns managed through 4 modules. First is 4C’s “Brand Compass,” a new tool which lets marketers access persona-based insights which are based on 4C’s Affinity Graph that combines TV, social and digital data on how people are connected to media, technology and each other.
In the hubbub of NABShow last week, Comcast Technology Solutions made several announcements, including one for a new product called AdStor, which caught my attention. AdStor is a cloud-based platform that hosts ads in a centralized library. Josh Arensberg, VP/GM at CTS told me in a briefing that the main goal of AdStor is to streamline how ad buyers and sellers interact, to accelerate ad delivery across multiple platforms. The result is reduced operating expenses and new revenue opportunities.
Topics: Comcast Technology Solutions