Handling the opposing forces of programmatic and low latency

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By David Springall, Founder & CTO of Yospace.


In this post I’d like to talk about the challenges faced by broadcasters in efficiently monetising live sports at scale using server-side ad insertion.

We have broadcasters in five continents monetising live sports using our platform.  During the World Cup last year, we saw a peak audience of 1.6 million concurrent users and only a few weeks ago, in January this year, we saw that record double to 3.2 million – a significant jump in the space of just six months.

So the ability to scale SSAI, and to plan for future scale, is really important but this topic is made complex because there are two opposing forces at play.

On one hand you have the desire for the broadcaster to improve the viewer experience by reducing latency.   

On the other hand, the way in which online advertising is being bought and sold is trending towards automated, or ‘programmatic’, fulfilment.  This makes the user-level ad decisioning much more complex.

Underlying all of this is the fact that the industry as a whole is finding online audiences, especially where major sports events are concerned, are growing at an ever faster rate, and it’s important that solutions deployed can continue to keep ahead of this growth.  

So why is it that these forces are opposing?

The reason for this is that in live streaming everyone watches the ad break at more or less the same time.  In order for us to know which ads to stitch in to each individual stream, we need to make a call to the ad decisioning ecosystem on behalf of each individual streaming session.

Naturally, these calls all take place in a very short space of time.  The lower latency the stream, the shorter the time frame under which this bevy of calls will be made.  As this time window is made even smaller, you need each individual ad decision request to also take less time.  

Ok, so let’s hold that thought.

On the other hand, because the ad decisioning ecosystem is getting more complex, it actually needs more time to resolve ad decisions.  Real-time bidding is required in the process of getting decisions for ad placement, so you’re not making calls to a single ad server, you’re making calls to multiple partners in the ecosystem.  Furthermore, you’re depending on all of those partners to be able to scale to handle these bursts of requests.

Therefore, to deliver the low latency experience at scale for live sports, and to plan for future scale, with a complex ad decisioning ecosystem to maximise the revenue opportunity, it’s necessary to the make ad decisioning calls in an orderly fashion way ahead of the actual break taking place.  By doing this you are no longer hostage to stream latency and how long you can spend, or how many calls you can make to get a decision for each user.

So this is what we do with the Yospace SSAI platform.  We call it prefetch and it allows us to scale to support the world’s biggest live events.  We co-authored a white paper on the topic with Akamai and SpotX.  It’s called “Go Live” and you can download it here.

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Why Yospace’s acquisition by RTL Group is a huge endorsement of its SSAI

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On 8th January RTL Group announced it was acquiring 100% of Yospace Technologies Ltd. The announcement represents a huge endorsement of Yospace, our people and the server-side ad insertion technology we have developed.

Having launched VoD server-side ad insertion in 2011, Yospace was first to market with server-side ad insertion (SSAI) for live streaming at the start of 2012, showcasing it in partnership with ITV at the 2012 IBC Innovation Awards.  Since that time the team has focused exclusively on development and innovation in the SSAI space. This has been with a focus on solving broadcaster challenges while maintaining a TV-like viewer experience. Today we are the world’s leading provider of one-to-one addressable SSAI and stream management.

This is an achievement we are hugely proud of.  We are also immensely proud of building a profitable market-leading business organically, while maintaining the independence required to have such a laser-sharp focus on the long-term development of our product.  As such we were fortunate to be in a position where we could carefully consider an acquisition that best suited the future ambitions of the team, primary of which is to continue to innovate with our loyal existing broadcast customer base while accelerating global adoption of our capabilities.

The key principles of our technology road map since 2011 have been based on understanding the close integrations with broadcast playout systems and the end-to-end streaming workflows needed to deliver a true broadcast experience, and a willingness to adapt to the evolving and often complex needs of broadcasters.  Challenges such as achieving one-to-one addressability at true broadcast scale, while delivering real-time metrics reliably and supporting enhanced viewer experiences have all been addressed.

As the market continues to mature and advertiser expectations increase, the ability to deliver a truly optimised standards-based programmatic SSAI solution will become increasingly critical.  To this end, the opportunity to work more closely with SpotX, who we’ve been a partner with for a number of years, will be of huge benefit to Yospace and to the wider industry, as the learnings we will gain will optimise integration with the entire programmatic and SSAI ecosystem.

As SpotX remains committed to all its existing SSAI partnerships, Yospace remains ad server and ad-tech agnostic.  Our independent stance and freedom to work with providers across the broadcast and advertising ecosystems are crucial, and this is recognised by SpotX and the RTL Group.

Our aim, as it has always been, is to provide the world’s leading server-side ad insertion platform and establish our technology as the de facto standard for the industry.  We will continue to serve all of our existing customers, without whom we would not have achieved the market position we are so proud of today, and to whom we remain fully committed.  This focus will in turn allow us to accelerate further the expansion of our global customer base.

Ultimately our decision to join RTL Group was an easy one.  The Group has bought into our strategy and is fully committed to supporting both our product roadmap and our expansion plans.  Whether you are an existing customer or a customer-to-be, we’re looking forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

Tim Sewell
CEO, Yospace

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Yospace achieves breakthrough in reducing ad load for OTT

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Server-side ad insertion specialist reports improvement in viewer engagement while delivering ad revenues.

 

 

Staines-upon-Thames, UK, 28thNovember 2018– Yospace has successfully demonstrated how a reduction in ad load combined with addressable advertising offers a viable and future-proof model for broadcasters in the OTT space.

The server-side ad insertion (SSAI) specialist developed its Non-Linear Startover (NLSO) technology in anticipation of a growing need among broadcasters to consider reducing ad load to improve viewer engagement, particularly among those viewers of the “internet-first” millennial generation.

Yospace allows users of OTT streaming services to rewind live content mid-stream.  Ad breaks are then intelligently reduced in length, allowing them to catch up with the live action.

Although ad breaks are shorter, precise per-viewer decisioning means broadcasters are able to command a premium for advertising.  Individual viewers are served only relevant ad content, thus boosting their engagement with the advertising and driving up the CPM for the broadcaster.

The success of the system was confirmed in a recent, award-winning project with Belgian broadcaster Medialaan, which focussed its attention on engaging a new generation of viewers.

Launching with Yospace’s SSAI technology with NLSO for its Stievie TV Everywhere service in late 2017, Medialaan has reported an increase in capacity for long-form views over a 12-month period, with greater ad revenues enabled through addressability.  In recognition of the success, the project was awarded the highly coveted IBC2018 Innovation Awardfor Content Distribution.

Calogero Macaluso, Marketing Director Stievie, Medialaan, said: “Providing a seamless viewing experience was more important than creating as many ad positions as possible and Yospace understood that.  Ultimately, we want to encourage the transformation from linear to digital by delivering a better customer experience.”

Olivier van Zeebroeck, Head of Sales Digital, Medialaan, said: “We’ve unlocked hundreds of hours of advertising inventory since working with Yospace.  The introduction of server-side DAI resulted in a 10% capacity increase for long-form views.”

Tim Sewell, CEO, Yospace: “The next generation of viewers are online and have grown up used to video with lighter ad loads.  With the right ad-tech and data strategy in place, broadcasters can cater to that audience while increasing engagement with the advertising.  Yospace’s technology continues to successfully push the boundaries of what a 21stcentury TV experience looks like.”

Read more about the Medialaan project here:
http://www.yospace.com/home-page/case-studies/medialaan/

________________________________ 

About Yospace

Yospace is the foremost provider of server-side dynamic ad insertion (SSAI) technology in the world today.  Its solution allows live streams and on demand (VoD) content to be monetised for OTT in a way that is true to the seamless viewer experience of linear television, while opening up benefits of digital advertising such as one-to-one addressability and real-time measurement.

Yospace was the first to publicly demonstrate SSAI in a live stream, with ITV in 2012, and today services major broadcasters and network operators across the globe, including AT&T in the US; Sky Media, ITV, BT Sport, Channel 4 and STV in the UK; Telia and TV4 in Sweden; SonyLIV in India (in partnership with Akamai Technologies); Seven West Media and Network Ten in Australia.

www.yospace.com

 

Yospace Contact
Paul Davies
pauld@yospace.com
+44 1784 466 388

Yospace provides IBC Award-winning solution for Medialaan

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Addressable advertising reduces ad loads and improves user experience

Amsterdam, Netherlands – 20thSeptember 2018
Belgian TV Everywhere provider Medialaan took the highly coveted IBC2018 Innovation Award for Content Distribution for its remarkable advertising management system, developed using Yospace technology. Viewers of Medialaan’s Stievie TV Everywhere service benefit from tailored advertising, allowing them to catch up on live television while only seeing commercials that are fresh and relevant.


The picture shows (left to right) Jim Greene from the network platforms group at Intel (sponsors of the awards ceremony) who presented the award, with Pieter Coucke and Petra Liesmons from Medialaan and David Springall from Yospace.

“Today’s viewers are rapidly moving online and growing used to video with lighter ad load,” said Tim Sewell of Yospace. “Medialaan took the bold step to prioritise the OTT user experience over short-term advertising revenue potential. Long-term, its advertising will command a premium because it is targeted to the individual.”

Viewers watching live channels on Stievie can rewind the live stream. What makes this solution unique is that, in startover mode, commercial breaks are made shorter by tailoring the spots to the individual, and breaks that have already been seen are made skippable, so the viewer can catch up with the live action.

While the amusing video describing the system to the audience at the IBC Awards Ceremony showed an infinite number of monkeys making the advertising selections for each viewer, the solution in fact depends upon the Yospace server-side ad insertion platform (SSAI). The result is a fully personalised, end-to-end stream management.


“Medialaan is absolutely delighted to win an IBC Innovation Award, surely the most prestigious prize in broadcast engineering,” said Peter Coucke, solution architect at Medialaan. “I would like to thank Yospace for developing a truly ground-breaking, viewer-first solution for live monetisation, and IBC recognising what is a very forward-thinking project.”

Michael Lumley, chair of the international panel of judges which selected Medialaan as one of just nine finalists across three categories, added “This year’s IBC Innovation Awards shortlist is a real global snapshot of the cutting edge of our industry, with all the hot topics of the moment represented, and entries from practically every corner of the globe. To make it to the final – and to win at IBC – is a tremendous achievement. Congratulations!”

Akamai, SpotX and Yospace team up to Go Live with addressable advertising at scale

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NEW YORK and LONDON— September 20, 2018 — Akamai, SpotX and Yospace have set out the key principles of monetizing major live events over OTT in a white paper entitled “Go Live: Addressable, Ad-Supported, Live Video At Scale,” which was made available at the IBC Show in Amsterdam this month.

Drawing from the technology companies’ wealth of combined experience in delivering and monetizing the largest live audiences in the world, the paper focuses on the three key pillars of major event television – monetization, scale and viewer experience – and outlines the technical complexities involved in delivering all three in an environment where viewing records are being broken on a regular basis while the demand for data-enriched advertising is increasing.

Prefetch is a central theme of the Go Live whitepaper. Yospace, the world’s foremost provider of server-side ad insertion (SSAI) technology, operates closely with the broadcast headend, allowing it to detect an upcoming ad break before it happens. Ad calls are made early to an ad server, such as SpotX, who then have more time to instruct the programmatic marketplace and generate the highest possible CPM and fill-rate for the rights-holder.

“Delivering addressable advertising at scale is the next big challenge for broadcasters and rights-holders,” said Tim Sewell, CEO at Yospace.  “During a major live event millions of viewers around the globe can go to an ad break at the same time, placing huge demand on the advertising ecosystem.  This white paper explains how the leaders in SSAI, video advertising and content delivery have addressed that.”

Monetization at such scale will only work if the right delivery mechanisms are in place. Akamai, a global leading Content Delivery Network (CDN), reliably handles peaks in audience demand to deliver video and ad content at scale, while providing a seamless, broadcast-quality viewing experience.

“Content providers understand the potential of OTT as more audiences move to consume content online,” states Campbell Foster, VP of Product Marketing at Akamai. “The challenge for live and linear content is delivering the seamless, high-quality experiences viewers are accustomed to from TV, while effectively monetizing content through one-to-one addressability at scale. This whitepaper focuses on how manage peak demand to optimize monetization of live content at scale.”

The white paper also looks at how SSAI technology and the wider ad ecosystem is adapting to the requirements of a maturing OTT world. Support for low latency streaming, at scale, and for data security mechanisms, both safeguarding the privacy of the viewer and protecting the value of the rights-holders audience, are addressed.

“Live inventory is a growing sector of our business and as audiences continue to consume content across multiple platforms like OTT, monetizing live video becomes even more important,” said Mike Shehan, co-founder and CEO at SpotX. “We believe that the media industry needs to understand the technology behind what can truly take addressable, ad-support live video to scale, and this white paper outlines all the relevant information.”

Download the white paper here

 

About Akamai                                              

Akamai secures and delivers digital experiences for the world’s largest companies. Akamai’s intelligent edge platform surrounds everything, from the enterprise to the cloud, so customers and their businesses can be fast, smart, and secure. Top brands globally rely on Akamai to help them realize competitive advantage through agile solutions that extend the power of their multi-cloud architectures. Akamai keeps decisions, apps and experiences closer to users than anyone — and attacks and threats far away. Akamai’s portfolio of edge security, web and mobile performance, enterprise access and video delivery solutions is supported by unmatched customer service, analytics and 24/7/365 monitoring. Learn more at www.akamai.com.  

About Yospace

Yospace is the world’s leading provider of server-side ad insertion (SSAI) technology for OTT.  With proven scale, its platform enables one-to-one addressability while delivering a TV-like viewer experience. 

In partnership with the UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster, ITV, Yospace was the first company to successfully demonstrate SSAI in a live broadcast stream, in 2012 – an achievement that was recognised by the IBC Innovation Awards.  Today, the multi-award-winning platform services major broadcasters across the globe and is widely recognised as both the most innovative and most reliable in scaling to monetise major event traffic.

Customers include: AT&T Entertainment Group in North America; Sky Media, ITV, BT Sport, Channel 4, Sky Deutschland, TV4, Telia and Medialaan in Europe; SonyLIV, Seven West Media, Network Ten in APAC.  In 2017, Akamai announced that their dynamic ad insertion capabilities would be exclusively powered by the Yospace platform.

www.yospace.com

About SpotX

SpotXis the leading global video advertising platform that enables media owners and publishers to monetise premium content across desktop, mobile and connected TV devices. As a modern ad server with programmatic infrastructure, data enablement, and monetisation solutions for OTT, outstream, and addressable TV, SpotX gives media owners and publishers the control, transparency, and actionable insights needed to understand buyer behaviour, manage access and pricing, and maximise revenue. SpotX also provides advertisers with a direct pipeline to premium supply and innovative solutions for optimising media efficiency, reach, and audience targeting. With best-in-class technology purpose-built for video, SpotX’s holistic, brand-safe solution is employed by some of the largest media owners and publishers in the world including fuboTV, Microsoft Casual Games, Newsy, Samba TV, Sling TV, Vudu and partners with a variety of different companies within the digital video ecosystem including comScore, DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science, JW Player, MediaMath, MOAT, Nielsen, Oracle, and more.

Headquartered in Denver, SpotX has nearly 600 employees in 24 offices worldwide including Amsterdam, Hamburg, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney, and Tokyo. In October 2017, RTL Group completed its 100% acquisition of SpotX which is currently combining its business with smartclip, a sister company. Learn more atwww.spotx.tvand follow @SpotX on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Yospace to demonstrate the world’s most scalable and trusted server-side ad insertion platform at IBC

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The global leader in SSAI achieved unprecedented scale for one-to-one addressable streams during the World Cup, recording a peak of over 1.5 million simultaneous viewers.

Staines-upon-Thames, UK – 30th August 2018
Yospace is to showcase its award-winning server-side ad insertion system at IBC (stand 14.G14).  The technology, also known as dynamic ad insertion or SSAI, has undergone a transformation in the last couple of years as audiences embracing OTT have been met by advertisers keen to exploit the opportunities of digital.

This summer’s World Cup tested the technology in the most demanding setting: major live event television.  Many streaming records were broken during the tournament, with the world’s largest CDN, Akamai, reporting that they delivered more video data in the 10 days of the group stage than during the entire 2014 tournament.  In keeping with overall trends, Yospace saw huge growth among SSAImonetised streams too.

Scottish broadcaster STV launched server-side ad insertion for the 2014 World Cup, the first in Europe to do so. They saw a five-fold increase in peak concurrent, or simultaneous, viewers watching personalised SSAI-enabled streams during the 2018 tournament, with viewers this year also able to enjoy all the action in HD.  Average viewing time increased, too, pointing to an audience that was more engaged with the content they were watching.  This resulted in two extra ad spots being opened up per viewer session.

Live events make the most engaging television because all viewers share the same experience. Dynamic ad placement opportunities are more valuable to the rights-holder as a result, but they are also more challenging to optimise in the programmatic ad marketplace because ad breaks occur for all viewers at the same time.

Peak concurrency during the tournament was recorded at over 1.5 million, which occurred during the dramatic penalty shoot-out between England and Colombia. Rather than delivering one ad for all, Yospace triggered many millions of ad requests for an ad break that was watched simultaneously by all viewers around the world.

Yospace is able to do this because it manages each viewer session.  When an ad break is detected a call is made out to an ad server on behalf of each user.  The ad server manages which ads are to be delivered to which viewer and will often make further calls out to the wider ad marketplace, where live auctions drive the highest possible CPM rate for the rights-holder.

All of the responses have to be managed within the strict timeframes of live broadcasting in order to maintain a TV-like viewer experience.  Yospace’s advanced technology succeeds where others don’t because it is able to make ad calls in advance of an ad break happening, allowing the ad server and wider programmatic marketplace the time they need to respond.  Given sufficient time, fill-rates are higher and the true value of each ad placement opportunity is realised.

The system also caters for the unexpected moments in major live events, which are often the most valuable but hardest to access.  The biggest surge in SSAI traffic for Yospace during the World Cup was in the knock-out game between Croatia and Denmark, when audiences across the globe doubled during the period from the end of extra-time to the start of a sudden-death penalty shoot-out – a window of just a few minutes.  The ad break just before penalties began suddenly became highly valuable and was successfully monetised by Yospace’s platform.

David Springall, CTO and Founder of Yospace: “Our technology has been, and continues to be, developed in tandem with the evolution of OTT streaming and advertising to the point that technical advancements from Yospace today are advancements for SSAI technology as a whole.”

Tim Sewell, CEO of Yospace: “Our SSAI platform was first to market in 2010 and today we stand as the only dedicated vendor with a proven track record for delivering at scale.  The system has been architected to address the unique challenges the programmatic marketplace introduces to live streaming, and our continued focus on SSAI means we remain out in front when it comes to the development of the technology, as demonstrated by our continued adoption and loyal global customer base. Our World Cup figures show that our global reach is second to none.”

More from Yospace at IBC:

IBC Innovation Awards with Medialaan:Yospace is a finalist at the highly-respected IBC Innovation Awards for its work on reducing ad loads in live OTT streams for the leading Belgian broadcaster.

Programmatic Demo:Working with SpotX, Yospace are demonstrating live SSAI with one-to-one addressability and programmatic trading.

Turnkey Scaling:Yospace is demonstrating its turnkey solution for scaling up channels to support major events.  Editors are able to track viewing figures across live streams in order to place advertising in the most valuable slots.

Visit Yospace at IBC: 14.G14
Schedule a demo: www.yospace.com/ibc18

Yospace and Medialaan solution for reducing ad loads in Live Simulcast recognised by the IBC2018 Innovation Awards

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Breakthrough in server-side ad insertion technology sets a new standard for broadcasters planning for millennial viewers

 

 

Yospace and Medialaan have been shortlisted for a prestigious IBC2018 Innovation Award for their work on enhanced live streaming with reduced ad loads.

The technology allows viewers to rewind a live stream then receive shorter ad breaks so that they are able to catch up with the live action.  Ad breaks that have already been seen can be skipped.  The project is one of four shortlisted in the Content Delivery category and one of 200 entries overall.

Medialaan, the largest commercial broadcaster in Belgium, wanted to deliver a modern, dynamic experience for its digital-savvy viewers and engage millennials in a way that was more aligned to many of the ad-free services they had grown up watching.  Yospace’s server-side ad insertion (SSAI) platform with Non-Linear Startover allowed them to do that.

The project was underpinned by the fact that ad spots opened up by Yospace’s platform are fully addressable and, as a result, are more valuable to Medialaan.  Any loss in revenue due to the delivery of fewer ads to the viewer is compensated by the fact that any ads that are viewed generate a higher return.

Research from FreeWheel, an ad-tech partner in the Medialaan project, suggests a 30% reduction in ads would lead to a 5% increase in video watched. As described by nScreenMedia in the USA, reducing ad load does not stack up commercially unless addressability is applied.  The combination of these two factors in the Medialaan project are what make it such an important step forward for the wider industry.

“To get onto this shortlist, you have to demonstrate an innovative but practical and proven solution to a real challenge. This really is the best of the best,” said Michael Lumley, chair of the panel of international editors and consultants which decides the IBC Innovation Awards.  “The IBC Innovation Awards get more competitive year after year, and to make it to the final shortlist is a remarkable achievement. Congratulations to Medialaan and Yospace!”

The awards will be presented on Sunday 16th September at IBC2018, to be held at the RAI in Amsterdam.  Visit Yospace’s stand at 14.G14.

The unique value of live streaming

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By Paul Davies, Marketing & Communications

Live event streaming offers tremendous value for viewers – thus, tremendous value for advertisers. Events like the World Cup present golden opportunities for broadcasters to supercharge ad breaks and golden moments for brands to be seen at scale.

Live simulcast gaining pace

The number of viewers who live stream content is growing; even in the early group stages of the World Cup, live streaming figures exceeded those of Super Bowl by 40%, with Conviva recording a peak 7.7 million concurrent viewers. In the UK alone, a record 3.3 million requests were made to stream England’s dramatic penalties win against Colombia via ITV Hub.

This trend isn’t confined to live sports. Events like the Royal Wedding and Trump’s presidential inauguration all drew significant online audiences, illustrating a diversity in event-based live viewing.

And why not? Live simulcast is now a valued part of the fan experience, and one which can be enhanced with added extras, like watching and syncing content on multiple devices, scrub control and interactive features.

Commanding hearts, minds, and eyeballs

Live events and, in particular, sports, command the hearts and minds (and eyeballs) of viewers, and huge rights sums from major broadcasters. Viewers expect to see premium quality content with advertising that is delivered seamlessly, frame-accurately and without interrupting or disrupting the live stream, regardless of the type of device they are watching on.

And when broadcasters deliver on expectations? You get vast audience numbers who are engaged for a specific reason, at a specific time, creating a hugely valuable opportunity for advertisers to achieve mass reach at a single point in time, with the accuracy that digital measurement can bring.  This is something that brands simply can’t achieve anywhere else, whether it’s a leading social media service or AVOD platform.

BT Sport recognised this opportunity and has been using Yospace’s DAI technology since 2016 to monetise live sports. Jeremy Rosenberg, Head Of Advertising Partnerships TV at BT perfectly sums this up: “Audience and reach is paramount to any advertiser.  It is about appointment to view and I would say that reaching that at such a high level where people are engaged is paramount compared to other platforms out there that give you a very short attention span from a content perspective.”

A golden opportunity

Audience reach is great for advertisers, but how can broadcasters manage this scale? In live OTT all viewers go to an ad break at the same time, putting huge strain on an ad server which will have to manage a bombardment of ad requests: during a football match an ad server could be stone-cold for 45 minutes, until a half-time break unleashes millions of simultaneous ad requests.

BT Sport is just one name to have scored with scale-management: the broadcaster recently completed its second full season of Premier League and Champions League football with addressable DAI. Yospace’s pre-fetch system – a core component of scaling addressable DAI – ensures calls to the ad server are paced over a longer period so the ad server isn’t overloaded and the broadcaster can ensure maximum fill-rates. All of this must be achieved without affecting the viewer experience, of course.

Read more about the BT Sport project in our case study.

Other broadcasters are in a strong position to do the same. Live events continue to command huge numbers of engaged viewers who expect a high quality viewer experience. Investing in advanced ad tech translates this engagement into valuable opportunities for broadcasters, who’ll be able to open up new ad inventory, and to advertisers who are keen to capitalise on the unique appointment-to-view experience: “You can’t get that anywhere else,” concludes Rosenberg.

Jeremy Rosenberg was speaking at the Future TV Advertising event in London in December 2017.

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