• Programmatic Advertising’s Next Frontier: Server Side Ad Insertion For Long-Form Video Content

    When an uncharted territory is discovered, it’s human nature to want to explore it. Consumers’ dramatic adoption of digital video presents just such a new frontier for programmatic advertising: how to leverage Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI) to help media providers effectively commercialize the high-quality, long-form video experiences that consumers love.

    Digital advertising is booming, and spending on digital video in particular is hitting new heights. This year, marketers in the U.S. will spend more money on digital ads than on TV1 and digital spend in the U.S. will grow 15.9 percent—an additional $83 billion in revenue. Perhaps more remarkably, by 2020, fully half of the rising spend on digital video will transact via programmatic channels in automated marketplaces.

    Meanwhile, with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, Smart TVs, Over-The-Top (OTT) devices like Roku, AppleTV and Chromecast, today’s home demands a rich array of video experiences. And these “digital native” consumers expect relevant ads that are unobtrusively integrated with high-quality content across all screens. Hence, today’s media providers’ challenge is to deliver and monetize high-quality, long-form content across any devices at any time while helping Marketers reach their target audiences with efficiency and scale.

    To meet this need, a legacy solution from the early days of digital has emerged as a promising new frontier for the programmatic advertising industry to tackle: Server Side Ad Insertion (SSAI). Simply put, SSAI or, “ad-stitching,” allows publishers to stitch video content and ads together in the content server to be delivered as a single stream to the consumer -- rather than assembling the content and the ads on the client-side (on the web page or device). In so doing, SSAI addresses latency, changing resolution and poor video playback, ensuring the consumer receives a seamless video experience.

    SSAI also has much to offer the mobile landscape, which is poised to double in growth through 2019. In mobile, client-side ad insertion has been problematic given the variety of proprietary or third-party video players that app developers use. With ad decisioning and insertion handled on the server-side, the integrated content stream is agnostic to the video player in use. And with the added benefit that stitched ads cannot easily be blocked by ad-blockers, advertisers yield a better ROI and consumers experience little to no latency.

    It’s no surprise then, that a multitude of media providers, publishers, broadcasters and app developers are flocking to SSAI. Such mainstream media companies as CBS, SONY’s Crackle and Hulu are leading the charge on adopting an SSAI infrastructure and the market is projected to reach $2.3 billion by 2022.

    Rising to the Challenge: Programmatic Trading in Long-Form Video Content

    We in programmatic AdTech have much to win by collaborating with SSAI systems. We bring reach, data-driven audience targeting and the real-time bidding capabilities that digital media providers need to get the best possible prices for their inventory. What I call “Programmatic SSAI” has the power to make long-form video content more efficient, targeted and profitable.

    And this is just the beginning. Looking forward, as more long-form live sports and news content is consumed across mobile and OTT devices, ad stitching that is relevant and targeted to specific demographics will be in high demand. This will require extremely efficient, automated technology platforms that can monetize at scale. As AdTech rises to the challenge, the entire digital ecosystem stands to win: media providers, app developers, advertisers and consumers alike.