SAN FRANCISCO—The buying and selling of advertising has undergone a sea change. It’s not enough to blanket a market with advertising and hope something sticks. Instead, advanced advertising technology and analytics are helping ad buyers reach customers where they are—and on the device they’re on—on a granular level. That’s a feat not so easy to accomplish when faced with privacy protections, depersonalized data collection and fragmented audiences.
So companies are looking at advanced advertising as a way to overhaul the way they sell their inventory. By working to capture high-quality first-person data, packaging and unpackaging data into easy-to-manipulate attributes, and then leveraging that data for use across for multiplatform apps, it’s possible for a media company to run a single addressable advertising campaign across all platforms—and deliver an advertising program that can scale.
“Advanced advertising solutions are making it possible for advertisers to reach as many people as possible within a particular target audience,” said Alan Young, CTO and head of strategy at LTN Global. “When you can be precise and specific about who will see an ad, it opens up your inventory to a much larger pool of advertisers.”
The goal of nearly all advanced advertising systems is to help media companies better target their audience.
Harmonic notes that there are 12 key essentials when it comes to successfully employing dynamic targeted advertising. The company’s scalable and targeted advertising solutions are based on the company's VOS360 Channel Origination and Distribution Platform with features that include creation of ad slots, ad ingest, ad stitching, playout, encoding, black out management, transcoding, ad impression reporting and a manifest manipulator component to enable the delivery of custom ads to each viewer. The days of one-ad-fits-all are gone; now advertisers are looking for dynamic ad insertion and targeted advertising that better encourage user engagement and improve reach.
A solution from LTN Global addresses two fundamental needs of addressable advertising on any platform: ensuring frame-accurate signaling when a replacement needs to occur, and loading the addressable creative replacing the default content into the TV memory or set-top box in advance. “Both of these components are vital to ensuring each viewer has a seamless experience—without them, the system will fail,” Young said.
ThinkAnalytics offers a solution that generates actionable and differentiated consumer profiles from a TV operator’s first-party data, which is key when trying to offer an attractive targeting opportunity for advertisers.
“Any broadcaster looking to monetize from advanced advertising will need to address two big challenges from advertisers,” said Tony Mooney, senior vice president of advertising for recommendation technology. One of those categories is measurability: Are ads being viewed for the durations and frequencies they required and by the audiences that they have specified? The other is targeted playback. “If the results are not better than just broadcasting your advertising, then why bother with targeting.”
Graham Heap, senior director of product management for Imagine Communications, says media companies are looking to complement their traditional revenue streams, typically sold on the usual TV demos, with additional offerings that allow distinct targeting of particular audience segments.
“Extracting the value from comprehensive first- and third-party data sets is seen as a rich stream of future revenue that can supplement an ongoing solid underpinning of optimized audience-based linear sales,” he said, adding that buyers are interested in both traditional TV for broad reach brand-building, alongside granular targeting with addressable (across all platforms) for better customer engagement.
Sky Media recently tapped Imagine to help it transition from linear TV sales to full cross-platform selling based on audience. Using Imagine’s Landmark platform, Sky Media moved from selling in multiple vertical, siloed systems (including linear, VOD and addressable linear) to selling, reconciling and billing combined linear and VOD campaigns on a common cross-platform currency.
At the same time, the media company is selling targeted linear ads across satellite and OTT based on detailed first- and third-party data segmentation, which can be used for everything from simple geo-targeting to selling individual customized audience segments crafted for individual buyers. The cloud-based Imagine Managed Service and xG GamePlan are also helping Sky Media accurately deliver last-minute campaigns.
ACROSS EVERY PLATFORM
It’s vital to have a plan when it comes to today’s multiplatform universe.
“[Video service providers] need to deliver a consistent advertising solution across all screens and be agile in the products they offer to their consumers as well as to their advertisers,” said Daniel Wohlfart, principal product manager of advanced advertising for Synamedia. “What they need is the flexibility to not only track what advertisers and audiences want, but to predict those needs and deliver them first.”
Synamedia’s Iris addressable advertising platform was designed to work in different content delivery environments, be it classic DTH, hybrid ecosystems or pure OTT.
Handling multiplatform environments was a key factor during the production of Smartplay, the manifest and session management technology from Verizon. Designed to deliver personalized streams at global scale, the system’s server-side ad insertion capability transitions from content to ads across any device or platform and uniquely for every viewer. “[This helps] broadcasters and content providers attract and retain viewers while maximizing ad revenue,” said Ariff Sidi, general manager and chief product officer at Verizon Media Platform.
Others point to the capacity for scale as a key indicator of success. “Verance believes scale is essential for advanced advertising to be successful,” said Nil Shah, CEO of Verance. Scale is essential, he said, up to tens of millions of households. “[This] means retaining the ability to operate on multiple platforms simultaneously,” he said.
Companies like Broadpeak are helping operators to monetize content with targeted advertising in the form of BkYou. This ad personalization system gives pay TV opertators and content providers an end-to-end solution for ad insertion from the origin server and transcoding all the way through packaging and delivery. Companion reporters offer deeper insights into ad consumption. “Consumer demand for personalized content, including ads, has really ramped up globally,” said Jacques Le Mancq, CEO of Broadpeak. The latest version of BkYou helps customers address this trend. “New features, such as ultra-fast transcoding, end-to-end management and ad packaging streamline the delivery of targeted advertising so that operators and content providers can enhance opportunities for monetization.”
Other advanced advertising solutions help companies capitalize on their close audience relationships by making them addressable across all devices, enabling them to target ads on a per-user basis, said Christophe Kind, director of market development for advanced TV advertising for MediaKind. “This means they can evolve from a traditional ‘one-to-many’ broadcast workflow to a far more targeted ‘one-to-one’ targeted TV environment.”
AT THE EDGE
Server-side dynamic ad insertion solutions particularly benefit broadcasters and TV service distributors by enabling them to deliver rich, targeted adverts by eliminating any latency when switching between original programming and replacing or inserting ad spots, Kind said, adding that an effective targeted TV advertising solution can enable pre/mid-roll SSAI across all workflows and adaptive bitrate (ABR) formats, ensuring maximum resistance against ad-blockers.
As the landscape for distribution has evolved, the opportunities for advanced advertising, in particular addressable ad insertion, have exploded, Imagine’s Heap said.
Other new monetization options include “prebid" or advance bidding, a programmatic technology for long-form video content providers that integrates with their server-side ad insertion vendors. This uses an open-source framework to expose ad inventory in real time and conduct simultaneous auctions with more demand partners, all ahead of the regular ad call workflow. According to Verizon’s Sidi, these bids are then evaluated alongside other ad buys.
“This is important because historically, the ad decisioning waterfall has prioritized direct buys, often ignoring real-time bids,” he said. "This gives those advertisers without direct deals the chance to bid on premium ad space, driving up content value and providing a better viewing experience that diversifies ads and reduces ‘ad fatigue.’”
It’s a challenge to find the right balance between optimizing the viewing experience while maximizing revenue, he added.
“We are seeing experimentation on ad loads, formats, lengths, placement and more. This requires a flexible partner ecosystem to refine and strengthen monetization strategies at scale.”
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Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.