Note: This post is supporting component #2 of Experience and Economics: Brightcove’s Manifesto for Media in 2017. Download the full manifesto as a PDF here.
Recall lead character Gordon Gekko’s axiom in the 1987 film Wall Street: “What’s worth doing is worth doing for money.” This is true for most online video, but in our opinion, this has been way too difficult, for far too long. Here are our areas of focus in 2017 for enabling our customers to increase video revenue by up to 50%.
Improving Ad Delivery. The expanding universe of devices on which millions of viewers consume video has made it impossible for one format to capably reach all platforms. In the early days of ad insertion for streaming video, the call for the ad and the mechanics of switching between the program and ad — and back to program — all happened in the player — a process referred to as client-side ad insertion (CSAI). While this approach was able to leverage browser cookies to target more relevant ads, it also introduced problems that impacted the overall video experience. Ads were delivered in much lower quality than the program content, or a viewer would see the same ad multiple times per session, and often even in the same ad pod. CSAI also introduced latency, as the player was too often waiting for an ad network (or a series of ad networks) to decision and deliver an ad. Because the technology executes at the client, it has to be developed, tested, debugged for each client (browser or device), an enormously thankless and expensive task that simply cannot deliver a consistent, error-free experience in today’s fragmented world. Finally, while Adobe’s Flash technology has buoyed CSAI for years, due to its proliferation and consistency across browsers it is now being phased out by those browsers. Currently, the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) wants to transition all ads from Flash to HTML5/JS by July 2017, and while we have supported HTML5/VPAID.JS advertising for a year, we are emphasizing a different path.
We have seen SSAI provide a better experience and a better platform for monetization than CSAI. It is true that there are differences in what an SSAI approach currently allows with regard to targeting and individualization vs. the legacy CSAI approach. However, Brightcove is investing in eliminating, ameliorating or rendering irrelevant such gaps in 2017 and will be working with the IAB, advertisers and publishers to define new approaches and best practices to maximize monetization potential.
Last, but certainly not least, is CSAI’s challenge presented by ad blockers. Many broadcasters, publishers, and programmers are seeing as much as one third of their video views being compromised as a result of this technology. Brightcove SSAI mitigates these concerns, and we are able to help customers reach and monetize audiences, regardless of platform, device, network or potential hurdle that technologies like ad blocking introduce. And we are working with industry leaders like DoubleClick for Publishers, FreeWheel, Tremor Video, SpotX and Rubicon to name a few. These integrations make implementation simpler and more effective than before.
The business impact of these efforts is material. We are seeing real-world increases in revenue as online video properties make the switch to SSAI. MediaWorks is New Zealand's largest independent broadcaster, reaching 96% of the population in-region through its extensive portfolio of premium brands across radio, television, digital and live platforms. Its partnership with Brightcove, and the implementation of SSAI across its properties, resulted in a 35% increase in monetizable inventory. But that’s just scratching the surface of this story. Beyond the monetization benefits, Tom Cotter, Chief Information and Product Officer at MediaWorks, identified the following key benefits in working with Brightcove’s technology:
Increased reach to lower-end devices
Increased time spent viewing
Circumvention of ad blockers
Lower cost of development
Here is a slide from Tom’s analysis showing the gains made with SSAI across all MediaWorks properties:
In 2017, we want all our customers to achieve the results that MediaWorks obtained for its video on demand, and we will also be introducing a new service to deliver the same benefits for our customers doing live events and 24/7 live channels. Live with SSAI is a tremendous and growing opportunity for our customers and our investments in APIs for managing the ad insertion, clipping, DRM and cloud DVR capabilities will all drive inventory growth in 2017
Recommendations and personalization address a key challenge in web video: when publishers pay a king’s ransom to acquire viewers, they often lose them after a single view. We have partnered with IRIS.TV to help our customers increase the number of premium ad impressions per viewing session and increase the value of their owned and operated sites and content. IRIS.TV helps our customers have a better relationship with the viewer within the player itself, using machine learning to deliver compelling content in real time. This means uninterrupted, contextual, high-quality video experiences that we have seen yield staggering results. A number of Brightcove customers are seeing a 50%+ uplift in views simply by turning this on. Forbes is a great example:
“Two weeks ago, we began using the IRIS.TV video player on article pages. The IRIS.TV platform uses a personalization engine to find and surface related video content based off users’ consumption habits. The early numbers for the new player have been impressive. We’ve seen a 465% lift in video views as a result of video recommendations over the last week, and 87% of users completed an experience that contained a recommended view.” [Nina Gould, Forbes Staff]
The online video ecosystem is rich and complex, providing publishers with many options, but also adding the burden of identifying tools and services, integrating, testing, maintaining, sourcing and contracting for each. The TCO of running an online video service is heavily burdened by each such integration. That is why we decided to build IRIS.TV directly into the Brightcove Player and Video Cloud as an option our customers can “turn on” without taking on the work and complexity of sourcing, contracting and integrating. ROI is high, cost of adoption is low.
Syndication is another opportunity for monetization that successful online video businesses are increasingly leveraging. Inbound video syndication of high-quality content creates new inventory to monetize, and keeps viewers on-site. Outbound video syndication offers publishers more return from their content investments. Until recently, both were complex to get started, required multiple systems, and were only really available to larger companies that had the staff to set up and manage syndication businesses. The Brightcove Marketplace, powered by our partner Vemba, is built directly into Video Cloud and makes this easy. For Video Cloud customers, selecting the videos, players and business rules they wish to employ when syndicating content out, and augmenting their libraries with content from the marketplace, are both straightforward processes. Additionally, the challenges of tracking, analytics and transaction settlement are removed from our customers’ shoulders. This is a big leap forward in flexibility and opportunity from the models that the market has offered to date.
I invite you to read more here about how our goal of increasing our customers’ video revenues by up to 50% fits in with the rest of Brightcove’s Manifesto for Media and our plans for 2017.