NAB16: Another Bumper Year

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With NAB16 nearly upon us, here’s a review of Yospace’s activity since the last show and a glimpse of what’s to come.

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Is it really time for NAB again?  The head says surely not, but a glance at my Inbox and the broadcast media makes it clear NAB season is well and truly upon us.

Yospace’s presence at the event has grown year-on-year since our first appearance in 2011, but this one sees our largest presence yet – more space, more people – and it comes on the back of our busiest and most exciting year to date.

In the last 12 months Yospace has launched with 15 customers, including Sky, DIRECTV, Channel 4, ITV and firsts in France (BFMTV) and Chile (Canal 13).  We now operate over 300 live channels across 4 continents – a figure that’s set to grow significantly with 5 more launches scheduled in Q2.

So what’s been the main the factor in the rise of server-side ad insertion since NAB15?

The answer lay in the realisation that huge untapped audience exists for live television.  Many live streaming projects, though by no means all, have been driven by major sporting events, such as the Copa América soccer tournament or Rugby World Cup, and these deployments, of course, have required an effective monetisation solution.

Yospace was very well placed to capitalise with our leading personalised ad replacement system, and the results of these deployments have been fantastic for broadcasters.

Not only has an appetite for live television been discovered that many thought was on the wane, but view-through rates of ad breaks consistently passed 98% – a figure higher than the network average.  Not only are huge audiences ready and waiting for live streaming, but when it comes to advertising it’s an incredibly valuable audience too.

“Live TV is precisely what Netflix, Amazon and YouTube cannot offer,” said Kelly Williams, Commercial Managing Director of ITV, in a statement that reveals the true extent of broadcaster enthusiasm.  Live streaming is not just another form of consuming content, it is the lifeblood of broadcasting, and Yospace is helping mould a future in which it thrives.

Put in that context, it’s no surprise that Yospace has experienced a bumper twelve months since NAB15.  We’re already set to cover major events in 2016 including UEFA EURO 2016 and the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but if NAB has anywhere near the impact it had last time then we’re set for our biggest year yet again.

Visit our booth and find out more: we’re at SU5803 in the South Upper hall.

How it works: Server-Side Ad Replacement

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In what promises to be a groundbreaking year for live streaming, server-side advertisement replacement holds the key to monetisation for major broadcasters and rights-holders.

Major events such as the RBS 6 Nations, Copa América Centenario, UEFA EURO 2016 and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will drive online viewing figures to record highs. Needless to say, it is imperative that effective advertisement strategies are applied in a way that puts the viewing experience first.

Dynamic, server-side ad replacement is the overwhelming preference of broadcasters, especially for live broadcasting, and in this article I’ll explain why.

User Experience

Steve Jobs once said: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.” So, bearing that well-informed mantra in mind, what does the viewer expect in live simulcast?

Primarily, they want to see the game, uninterrupted (hence the unpopularity of pre-rolls). When play stops at half-time, an advertisement break is widely accepted – indeed expected – from a commercial broadcaster. The challenge in replacing these advertisements is to ensure frame-accurate, seamless transitions to maintain the viewer’s trust.

A big strength of server-side is that transitions are seamless by nature, especially when you are able to encode advertisement assets ahead of time to exactly match the source profile of the underlying stream. Frame-accuracy is achieved by integrating with the broadcaster’s automation system and conditioning the stream at source, resulting in an experience where the viewer does not even notice the replacement take place.

Engagement

Online streaming benefits from the level of personalisation that can be achieved, which is a potent tool when applied to advertising. By investing in building user profiles and developing knowledge of their audience, broadcasters enable ad breaks to be catered to the interests of the individual viewer.

User engagement is driven further by implementing clickthrough and overlay functionality that corresponds to the advertisement that is being viewed at the time.   Player-side interactivity is triggered by server-side ad calls, meaning the advertiser experiences the best of both worlds – seamless, server-side ad insertions with player-side functionality.

With such a seamless and engaging proposition for the viewer, combined with reliability at the scale required for major audiences, and the fact the business case proves itself time and time again, it’s easy to see why broadcasters were keen to implement server-side advertisement replacement for live sporting events.

Analytics

The principle of combining server-side insertions with player-based benefits can be applied to analytics too – an area that has traditionally been considered a weakness of server-side.

By deploying an analytics SDK in the player, ad views are tracked to the same level of intricacy that has previously been seen solely in client-side solutions. The result is the most compelling approach to monetising live simulcast yet seen.

Most compelling of all to the viewer, who experiences a true broadcast-quality stream without any of the buffering or disruptions that have become so disruptive in online video. Such reliability, combined with personally engaging advertising, resulted in view-through rates of up to 98.7% during last year’s Copa América – an incredible figure, and a genuinely new source of digital revenue for the broadcaster.

I almost forgot to mention ad blockers. So much debate is raging at the moment that I feel I should mention it, if nothing else just to improve the searchability of this post. Let me finish then with another statistic: we know view-through rates during the Copa América reached 98.7%, but do you know how many ads were blocked?

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