Seven Network: Monetising the Australian Open with Dynamic Ad Insertion
In January 2017 Seven Network monetised matches from all 16 tennis courts of the Australian Open using Yospace’s Dynamic Ad Insertion platform (DAI). In this case study we’ll look at the driving factors behind the project, and the cutting edge innovations that made it stand out.
Seven’s Tennis coverage has long been a highlight of its enviable sporting calendar. With a dedicated 7Tennis product, the Australian broadcaster’s annual Summer of Tennis culminates with the Australian Open, which has seen action from every court streamed live online since 2015.
“Sports live streaming is massively popular, with long streaming sessions, so we sought to unlock the advertising potential of midroll advertising, for every host broadcaster court stream” said Jeremy Brown, Solutions Architect, Video and Advertising at Seven Network. “The adhoc nature of sport and latency in streaming are well known challenges of traditional client-side ad insertion for midrolls. The advertising opportunity and user experience went hand in hand for us,” continued Brown. “Mid-roll advertising had to perform with the precision placement of broadcast. The integrity of the stream content could not be compromised and viewers should never miss any action.”
Seven were able to overcome these issues using Yospace’s Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) platform. Unlike client-side solutions, in which ads are loaded in various formats as separate content within the player on the user’s platform/device, Yospace’s server-side solution inserts advertising before the stream is delivered to the platform/device, which allows a seamless user experience that is in-line with the high expectations of broadcast television.
“We carried out an extensive study to build a business case ahead of the Australian Open,” said Sharla-Jannett Cameron, Digital Revenue Operations Manager at Seven. “We identified where ads could be replaced and what the value of that inventory could be. The tournament coverage represented premium content and we knew we could command a far higher CPM than for advertising sold into VOD. On top of that we had the opportunity to segment the advertising to relevant audiences based on data such as location, device or platform, and user demographics.”
There were other considerations too. “For the Australian Open we wanted to offer a premium HD service as well as an unrestricted SD stream,” said Jeremy Brown. “We needed a partner capable of providing a custom experience to each viewer”
Yospace’s platform is unique in the way it integrates closely with the broadcast systems that drive linear television channels. Long-established systems are translated to an OTT environment, ensuring a frame-accuracy and seamlessness to online advertising that truly reflects that of television, while capitalising on new opportunities such as creating customised streams to suit particular viewer requirements or interests.
Yospace’s server-side stitching approach caters for a modern, multi-platform broadcast advertising strategy by allowing a single stream, with ads already stitched in, to be delivered across multiple platforms/devices, as opposed to client-side solutions that can require in-app development for each operating system, and then again whenever an OS is upgraded.
Just as important is the quality of the ad tracking that feeds back to the broadcaster’s advertising systems. Accurate cross-platform tracking data is essential for collecting ad revenues, and Yospace can track ads at the point they’re viewed through a simple SDK embedded in the player of the user’s device/platform. This feeds back accurate data without requiring hefty development on the broadcaster’s part.
“Yospace’s platform stood out as the only one capable of addressing all our requirements,” said Brown. “We were impressed with how broadcaster-focussed the platform is and the depth of their technical understanding of broadcast workflows.”
Elemental Encoders: During the Australian Open, Seven used BoraGrid control & monitoring application to manage the Elemental Encoder API’s for all 16 live channels. SCTE-35 ad markers were injected manually for each channel based on the state of play at the time, with a range of durations possible. Live concurrency data supplied by Yospace Telemetry API was displayed on the BoraGrid interface, allowing the operator to focus on the most popular courts.
SD or HD: When a viewer clicked ‘Play,’ Yospace detected whether or not they were a premium user and delivered the appropriate quality stream.
Ad creative: Yospace transcode all ad creatives to exactly match the source profiles of Seven’s Adaptive Bit-Rate (ABR) HLS streams, paving the way for a seamless switch to and from ad breaks. Ad volume normalisation was applied to ensure there were no annoying jumps in audio loudness between advertising and coverage.
Ad decisioning: When a SCTE-35 marker is detected in the HLS stream, Yospace make a VAST call to Seven’s ad server. The ad server returns a set of IDs which instruct Yospace which ads to insert.
Clickthroughs: Clickthough and overlay functionality to support supplementary ad content is enabled by Yospace’s Ad Management SDK, which seamlessly integrates with the existing player.
Ad Tracking: The Ad Management SDK also feeds back real-time ad viewing data back to Seven’s ad server. Yospace was able to manage ad impressions server side on platforms where clickthrough wasn’t possible such as Smart TVs.
“Yospace’s platform opened up a whole new body of inventory during the Australian Open which was otherwise inaccessible. Across 16 live channels for a premium sporting tournament, that represents a hugely significant amount of ad revenue,” said Jahn Erdogan, Ad Tech Specialist at Seven.
Damian McNamara – Head of Digital Video, Infrastructure & Operations for Seven West Media, highlighted the ease of the technical implementation: “The technical knowledge of Yospace’s engineers was first-class and we were very impressed with the level of support during commissioning and throughout the course of the tournament.”
Damian continued: “Yospace offered great flexibility and really understood the broadcast workflow. The platform excels at delivering a custom experience for each user, and that enabled a seamless delivery to premium and non-premium viewers. Reliability is absolutely critical and Yospace had the big event experience to ensure we had a flawless production.”
“As long as I can remember, advertising experiences for online video have always been a bit clunky,” said Erdogan. “But Yospace deliver advertising in such a smooth way that the viewing experience matched our linear TV channels. There wasn’t any backlash from viewers on Twitter, nor were there any issues from any of our third parties. The solution was completely seamless.”
Erdogan continued: “We were also able to curate the advertising according to the user’s location, device or platform, and even the frequency that they were watching the 7Tennis streams. So viewer’s were getting advertising that was far more relevant to their interests, and without the ad fatigue that can come if you see the same ad multiple times. That was reflected in view-through rates, which were quite a bit above average industry figures. We over-delivered on our pre-tournament expectations and opened up 45% more inventory than planned. On top of that the association with one of the biggest global sporting events meant our inventory could be sold at a premium level above our usual VOD advertising.”
Jeremy Brown concluded: “One event in and Yospace has already become a critical partner to our sporting calendar.”