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:
SpotX has released new research highlighting how use of connected TV has become mainstream behavior, with 40% of U.S. adults using CTV, for an estimated reach of 100 million 18+ adults. Among CTV viewers 63% watch daily and 94% watch weekly. CTV users watch an average of 3 hours per day (pre-Covid when SpotX fielded its survey). CTV viewers are quite evenly distributed by age group; 18-24 year-olds represent 21%, 24-34 year-olds (24%), 35-54 year-olds (27%) and 55+ (29%).
These findings and others are included in SpotX’s new paper, “CTV is for Everyone: An In-Depth Look at Connected TV Viewership in the U.S.”
Hershey’s, the iconic chocolate and candy maker, is going all in on Connected TV (CTV) and OTT (Over the Top), planning to increase its ad spending by 9x in 2020 vs its 2019. To do so it is partnering with SpotX as one of its media buying and demand facilitation partners. To learn more about Hershey’s 2020 CTV/OTT strategy I interviewed Vinny Rinaldi, Head of Addressable Media and Technology for Hershey’s and Cassidy Diamond, VP, Brand Partnerships for SpotX. Following is a slightly edited transcript.
VideoNuze: Hershey’s is going “all in” on Over-the-Top (OTT) and Connected TV (CTV) advertising, intending to grow spending in these categories by 9x in 2020, compared to 2019. Why is Hershey’s making this big shift?
With services such as Netflix being viewed over 70 percent of the time on connected televisions (CTVs), when a media buyer thinks of over-the-top (OTT) their first thought is not usually mobile or laptop-first. But the truth is, OTT can come in many shapes and sizes and merely represents how a piece of video is delivered. With viewing trends shifting so drastically, should the size of the screen really matter? Many viewers are shifting their consumption habits of live, linear and VOD television content to devices they can access whenever, and wherever. A study by Deloitte Insights, showed mobile-first viewers consume a comparatively large portion of long-form video on their smartphones, almost three times the average streamer. With TV being made available everywhere, mobile OTT has become a new norm.
Categories: Mobile Video
Virtual pay-TV (or “vMVPDs”) providers already deliver live, linear and on-demand programming to millions of subscribers, creating a rich new source of targetable premium video ad inventory, often on connected TVs. But virtual pay-TV is itself in a state of flux, with providers revamping packages, evolving their marketing and raising their prices.
At the recent Video Ad Summit we discussed these dynamics on a session I moderated that included Hannah Brown (Chief Strategy Officer, fuboTV), Chris Maccaro (CEO, Beachfront Media), Matt McLeggon (Senior Director, Advanced TV Growth, SpotX) and
Beth Weeks (VP, Director Media, Digitas North America).
Some of the key takeaways included that virtual pay-TV operators are seeking more scale, especially to help educate ad buyers about why the opportunity is compelling (buy side education and overcoming fragmentation was a big theme), how important automation, content discoverability and viewer experiences will be for virtual pay-TV and how linear/sports remain an important part of virtual pay-TV’s appeal.
SpotX has released its “2019 Video Advertising Trends” report, highlighting 4 key trends:
The report offers numerous insights about each of these 4 trends (and others). The report’s discussion of the latter two are especially relevant and thought-provoking.
While the “Mad Men” era of TV advertising was characterized by three-martini lunches, the current era is characterized by the push toward efficiency, most notably programmatic transactions that are data-enabled with increased automation. For many, these trends raise the prospect of a future of machine-to-machine only interactions, with minimal human involvement.
But, attending the SpotX Connect half-day breakfast event in NYC yesterday, I heard a very different message from participants on one session after another: contrary to the “automation-is-king” mythology, human relationships and engagement are actually still very much at the core of how things work in today’s video ad business.
SpotX and Tru Optik have announced a partnership that enables video content providers to pre-segment and validate their ad inventory, so that buyers are able to create targeted, audience-based connected TV and OTT ad campaigns. Under the partnership, SpotX’s Audience Management Engine has been integrated with Tru Optik’s OTT Data Marketplace.
In addition, advertisers and content providers will gain access to Tru Optik’s Cross Screen Audience Validation (CAV), which provides deduped household reach, frequency, in-target percentage rates, device delivery confirmation and reporting.
Video ad tech provider SpotX has announced that it has achieved 100% compliance with the IAB’s ads.txt specification version 1.0.1. ads.txt, which was announced by IAB in May, 2017, is a way of preventing the sale of fraudulent or counterfeit ad inventory. Fraudulent ad inventory have been a constant source of consternation in the video ad business because it undermines the marketplace’s integrity, especially for programmatic, and causes spending waste.
Advertising technology is a fast paced business driven by trends in innovation. In the last twelve months, the video industry has been dominated by headlines devoted to the rise of header bidding and brand safety. But what is next on the horizon? For advertisers and media owners, streamlining costs and efficiency in video advertising remains paramount, which is why the latest trend is the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI). But what exactly is it and why is it such a hot topic right now?
In another sign of how important connected TVs are becoming for ad-supported content, supply-side platform SpotX announced this morning that it is offering advertisers enhanced audience measurement for ad campaigns on connected TV devices using Nielsen data.
Advertisers will be able to measure the unduplicated and incremental reach of their campaigns across SpotX campaigns on CTV alongside their traditional linear TV ads. Campaign measurement will include data on reach, frequency and GRPs of CTV ads. The Nielsen data will also be used for insights on CTV ads relative to desktop and mobile ads as well as linear TV.
JW Player and SpotX recently announced a new header bidding solution to drive improved video ad monetization across JW’s huge base of content publishers. Dubbed “Video Player Bidding,” the solution is meant to radically simplify and accelerate JW publishers’ implementation of header bidding, while exposing their inventory to SpotX’s deep pool of demand sources. I caught up with JW’s co-founder and SVP, Strategic Partnerships Brian Rifkin and SpotX’s CRO Sean Buckley, to learn more.
For those not familiar, header bidding is a way for publishers to increase yield on their ad inventory, by simultaneously accepting bids from various demand sources, with the highest bid winning. The approach contrasts with the traditional “waterfall” model, whereby bids are sequentially evaluated. As programmatic buying has gained in display ads, header bidding has become widely used.
New research from SpotX reveals an expected shift in advertising spending from TV to OTT over the next 2 years. The research was conducted by Kagan among 41 U.S. pay-TV operators, OTT providers, content owner and advertisers. Just 11% of advertisers reported spending 21%-40% of their budgets on OTT today, but that’s expected to rise to 67% doing so in 2 years. Meanwhile, 33% said they currently spend 21%-40% on TV, but that’s expected to drop to 22% in the same time frame.
Video ad tech provider SpotX has announced server-side ad insertion interoperability with Amazon Web Services’ Elemental MediaTailor service. This means that content providers which are joint customers of SpotX and AWS Elemental MediaTailor are able to use SpotX’s ad decisioning capabilities to dynamically serve targeted ads, using server-side ad insertion.
With server-side ad insertion (“SSAI”), which is also known as ad stitching, relevant ads are integrated with the content at the server level, providing a better viewer experience as compared with when ads are inserted by the player on the user's device. The latter model often results in buffering as the player transitions between content and ads and vice versa. Buffering is major challenge for content providers because it is the leading cause of abandonment, which in turn diminishes monetization.
SpotX has revealed that ad spending on its platform for OTT inventory increased by 18x for the 12 months ending October 2017. SpotX defines OTT inventory as including broadcast-quality inventory from TV networks, pay-TV operators and other live, linear and VOD streaming services delivered via connected TVs, desktop and mobile. SpotX said the portion of ad budgets spent on OTT inventory increased from 8% in Oct. ’16 to 26% in Oct. ’17, with 30% expected by end of the year.
One of the highlights of last week’s SHIFT // Programmatic Video & TV Ad Summit was a joint presentation from Brightcove (Mike Green, VP, Marketing and Business Development, Media), SpotX (Kevin Schaum, Sr. Director, Mobile and Connected TV) and the IAB Tech Lab (Amit Shetty, Sr. Director, Video & Audio Products) on how server side ad insertion (SSAI) adds value to programmatic for both linear and on-demand advertising.
For those not familiar with SSAI (also known as “ad stitching”), this is a process for inserting ads into a piece of content (frequently long-form). There are multiple benefits of SSAI including better user experiences, reduced buffering, extended device reach, elimination of ad blocking and lower cost of deployment. Mike, Kevin and Amit elaborated on how these benefits are even more valuable for programmatic, especially in live and in skinny bundles, while also noting some of the key outstanding challenges.
The presentation clearly communicated how the industry needs to work together to evolve video advertising given new viewer behaviors, device proliferation and publishers’ pressures to fully monetize.
With the video now!
Video distribution platform Vemba has raised $6 million in a series A-1 round, bringing its total funding to $11 million. The new round was led by Time Warner Investments and SpotX, with existing investors Upfront Ventures and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments participating as well.
Vemba’s CEO Garrick Tiplady told me in a briefing that the company’s vision is to become the industry standard platform for scale in video distribution on any device. Vemba’s platform allows content providers to create flexible models to distribute their videos and receive real-time analytics on their performance and monetization.
Late last week SpotX announced that it has integrated its recently-launched header bidding solution for video ads with Amazon Publisher Services’ Transparent Ad Marketplace (TAM). To learn more about the integration and the benefits to publishers, SpotX and Amazon, I spoke with Tal Almany, SpotX’s Senior Director, Advanced Integrations who recently joined the company from OpenX.
For those not familiar with header bidding, this is an approach that video providers use to offer their ad inventory simultaneously to multiple demand sources to optimize bidding and monetization. Amazon’s TAM is a header bidding solution that is cloud-based and server side, which means less code is running on the publisher’s site, creating efficiencies. TAM is relatively new to the market, but because it’s from Amazon, it has gained a lot of attention.
There’s plenty of M&A and financing activity in the video adtech space, with the latest news coming this morning with RhythmOne acquiring YuMe for $185 million. The deal had been rumored for a while and unites YuMe’s demand-side capabilities with RhythmOne’s supply-side and programmatic platform. YuMe was one of the earliest video adtech players to go public, back in 2013, but has had a bumpy ride as the industry rapidly evolved.
Digital video is quickly becoming the new hero of the ad world, thanks to its combination of the power of TV and the targetability of digital.
But in a fragmented media environment, with consumers viewing content across multiple screens, executing video buys can be a complicated undertaking. For maximum effectiveness, audiences need to be targeted and pieced together from a number of sources. Hence, digital video requires multiple buying styles, unlike the relative ease of buying a TV timeslot.
Programmatic approaches can help manage these complexities. Savvy marketers are making it their business to not only understand programmatic principles, but to flip traditional planning and buying methods, by partnering with the major supply sources to effectively plan for the best outcomes and ensure brand safety.
If you’re confused on best practice for planning video across screens, here are five tips to help navigate the minefield.