IBC2019: The conversations that drive innovation in SSAI

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By David Springall, Founder & CTO, Yospace


I never cease to be amazed at how quickly the world of ad-tech evolves and this is especially apparent if I look back over Yospace’s experience at the last few NAB and IBC Shows.

What was striking at NAB this year was just how few meetings needed the use of a demo.  This is contrasts greatly to a couple of years ago and I put this down to the fact that server-side ad insertion has become a well understood technology.  In its basic form, anyway.

It is a testament to the maturity of our technology and the industry’s understanding of it that nobody questions what it is and whether it works anymore.  A fast-growing customer list has helped with this, but it’s also in the stability demonstrated by such a large proportion of our customers working with us over the long term.

Much more common than a demo is the use of a pen and pad to draw out customer-specific workflow diagrams, and it’s in these types of conversations that things get really interesting.

Like many modern tech providers, Yospace’s product map is largely defined by our customers’ current and future challenges.  The technology and the teams that develop it are agile enough to work in this way and we always have an innovative project on the go that pushes the boundaries of what SSAI can deliver as a result.

Our project with Medialaan to reduce ad load in a live stream (an IBC Innovation Award winner last year – read the case study here) came out of exactly this type of scenario.

We’ve also been able to lead the way in developing a prefetch system that delivers programmatic to large event audiences, a process that can become incredibly complex as you scale to millions of simultaneous viewers who all go to ad breaks at the same time.

We developed our prefetch technology to address this use-case in response to the requirements of a leading sports broadcaster.  I’m very pleased that today Yospace’s robustness in this area is recognised by so many (you can read more on prefetch in our Go Live white paper).

Achieving scale was the biggest topic we’re being asked about at the moment and I expect lots of related discussions at IBC.  Others that are cropping up a lot include:

  • Support for MPEG-DASH and CMAF (we have a number of customers using these methods now)
  • Total Video, or the idea of using consistent advertising methods and measurement tools across all content (live and VoD)
  • Maximising the revenue opportunity from programmatic demand by optimising for price and maintaining creative separation
  • Data security and the ability of SSAI to provide a middleware layer between the client and the ad server – especially important with GDPR in mind

These are areas that I anticipate will be high on people’s agendas at the IBC Show.  We’ll have a stand in Hall 14 and it will be great to catch up.

See you in September.

Click here to book a meeting at IBC.

 

Teamwork for ‘dynamic’ Total Video advertising sales

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Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and advertising technology provider Yospace are jointly testing targeted, digital spot exchanges.

Cologne, Germany, 28th June 2019 – The right advertising at the right time for the right target group, all thanks to Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI). To ensure the dynamic delivery of video advertising during live streaming, the British video technology provider Yospace is teaming up with Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and advertising sales specialist IP Deutschland. Yospace, which was acquired by RTL Group in January 2019, is specialised in Server-Side Dynamic Ad Insertion (SSDAI) solutions. The technology enables ads to be exchanged in the video stream, both in live streams and during on-demand viewing. The advertising technology is first being tested in VOX’s live stream on TVNOW.

“We want to be the nation’s number one in every discipline. And one way to achieve that is by forging strong alliances. One such alliance is our close cooperation with RTL Group subsidiary Yospace, which is a key component of our Total Video advertising sales strategy”, explains Matthias Dang, Chief Commercial, Technology & Data Officer at Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland. “Part of our day-to-day business entails analysing, testing and evaluating innovations. The combination of an extensive reach and the latest advertising technology is a significant contributing factor in our advertising sales success. Integrating the Yospace technology is a further building block that will give us a clear competitive edge.”

Tim Sewell, CEO at Yospace, explains what makes the technology so special:”When ads are inserted digitally, the power of television advertising and online advertising come together, such as targeting, linking and enhanced measurement. Rather than assembling television content and video advertising from two different sources, our technology integrates both into a single stream, guaranteeing a seamless transition. We’re already working together with many well-known broadcasters, Telcos and pay-TV operators in Europe, the USA and Asia and are looking forward tremendously to the first media partnership with Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland. More partners from the RTL Group family will follow shortly.”

Yospace’s advertising technology enables dynamic ad exchange in both live content and on-demand video content on any Internet-enabled device. Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland is currently sizing up its potential, because according to Jens Pöppelmann, Director Media Operation at IP Deutschland, this test is just a first step. “We see DAI as a future market and additional key pillar in video advertising sales and expect SSDAI to become the standard in premium streaming services. Consequently, we’re planning an even deeper technical integration of Yospace’s technology, to enable us in the medium term to propose the offering for all live streams and subsequently also for our on-demand content. This will enable us to create even greater incentives for advertisers.”

– ENDS –

How to monetise World Cup football

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By Paul Davies, Marketing & Communications, Yospace

This month sees the kick-off of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in what promises to be the highest-profile edition of the tournament yet.  It will also see the finals of the inaugural UEFA Nations League, so we’re set for an eventful summer of high profile football that will garner significant monetisation opportunities for rights-holders worldwide.

I’ve picked three matches from the 2018 FIFA World Cup to illustrate some of the challenges to consider when looking to monetise major tournament football using server-side ad insertion (SSAI).  These examples highlight the need to implement the most reliable ad-tech and the most dynamic, too, in order to maximise the significant addressable revenue opportunities.

South Korea 2-0 Germany

The German team was the holder of the trophy going into the tournament and as such was among the most streamed during the World Cup based on data from Akamai, driving an average of 18.18Tbps average peak traffic during its matches.  Yet the team’s fate took an unexpected turn in the group stages, when the four-time champions were unexpectedly knocked out.

An earlier loss to Mexico suddenly heaped pressure on the German team for their final group match against South Korea match: 90 minutes which was previously expected to be insignificant, ended up drawing huge global interest.  In fact, this match – plus Mexico v Sweden, which took place at the same time – drove Akamai’s biggest traffic of the entire tournament.

This presented an opportunity for advertisers that would not have been planned before the tournament began, with a great many more viewers tuned in, engaged, and on the edge of their seats throughout.  Pressure wouldn’t just have been on Germany, but on broadcasters’ ad servers (ADS) which would have had to cope with an unpredicted swell in traffic.

Many ADS’s will have slowed at this point.  Adopting SSAI architecture with prefetch is the only way of monetising a broadcast-grade user experience at scale.

Croatia 1-1 Denmark

A match top-and-tailed with drama, this quarter-final game highlighted the need for an SSAI platform that is not only capable of delivering at scale, but is capable of doing so rapidly, and with very little fore-warning.

Two early goals in the match’s opening were followed by a slow 120 minutes, during which time many neutral viewers switched off due to the lack of action. Then, penalties – a situation that fans with a vested interest dread but a neutral supporter loves.  Whichever side you’re on, a penalty shoot-out is highly engaging for all viewers. Rights-holders had reason to cheer, too, with an unscheduled and lucrative ad break falling just before the most viewed moment of the match.

Unlike VoD, highly valuable ad breaks occur at exactly the same time for millions of viewers, requiring simultaneous ad calls to the ADS within a matter of seconds.  An SSAI platform must therefore support fluctuations in demand, and rapid, unpredictable variations in the number of concurrent streamers.

Brazil 1-2 Belgium

This quarter-final match between two of the tournament’s favourites featured global superstars including Neymar for Brazil and de Bruyne and Hazard for Belgium.  At half time the Belgians were leading 2-0, which prompted a greater surge in interest at the prospect of a goal-laden second half as the Brazilians mounted their fight back.

And the popularity of streaming wasn’t restricted to football’s traditional heartlands; Brazil vs Belgium was the most streamed event ever for America’s Fox Sports.

This was also a testing point for ad technology, with SSAI platforms tasked with the complex feat of making millions of simultaneous ad calls across the world, all with addressability enabled.  The ad break which fell just before play resumed in the second half may well have been the most valuable across the entire tournament, so advertisers and broadcasters had a lot to gain – and a lot to lose if their ad tech wasn’t able to respond as planned.

In this type of scenario a robust pre-fetch system is critical.  Yospace’s SSAI platform integrates with the broadcast automation systems – which hold all the information on programme and ad break timings – in order to look ahead to determine the length of the next ad break.  This allows it to pace calls to the ad server (ADS) over a prolonged period of time, which a) prevents the ADS being overloaded with simultaneous requests, and b) ensures the highest fill rates by allowing the ADS adequate time to respond.

With the right technology in place, broadcasters can realise the full value of live streaming while delivering consistent quality for the viewer, making sure that everyone is a winner.

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Yospace and Seven extend partnership for server-side ad insertion into live OTT

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Successful monetisation of major events portfolio and scalable programmatic result in deal renewal with Australian TV network

Staines-upon-Thames, UK – 30th May 2019 – Yospace, the pioneering provider of server-side ad insertion (SSAI) technology, has today announced the extension of its partnership with Seven, Australia’s leading commercial TV network, enabling SSAI into live OTT channels.

The announcement marks the third year of apartnershipinwhich Yospace’s SSAI technology has been leveraged to create new, addressable ad spots during some of Seven’s largestlive events, including the Winter Olympics, Rugby League World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Melbourne Cup, an event that pulls the highest concurrent streaming audiences in Australia.

Yospace’s SSAI platform, used by leading broadcasters across the globe, solves the technical complexities of delivering addressable advertising for streamed television while maintaining a TV-quality viewer experience, This has enabled Seven to generate new revenue streams across the breadth of its enviable live sports portfolio and 24×7 Broadcast simulcast streams.

The platform successfully addresses a critical challenge in monetising live streams at scale, that of managing the load on ad servers and programmatic platforms when they are hit by a sudden surge in simultaneous ad requests, as happens with major live events.  Yospace’s “prefetch” system enables it to call ad servers and the wider programmatic ecosystem in advance, affording them the time needed to handle the spike in ad requests and deliver the highest possible fill-rate for the broadcaster.

“We’ve worked with Seven to pioneer new approaches to monetising its premium live content,” said Tim Sewell, Yospace. “Broadcasters, advertisers, and audiences are demanding more from OTT in terms of viewer experience, addressability and scale – and the extension of our partnership is testimony to our ability to deliver that. We’ll continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible with server-side ad insertion and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership with Seven for the long term.”

“Our viewers expect an engaging, high-quality viewing experience – whether they’re watching Broadcast or Internet streaming content – especially during high-profile live events,” said Darren Kerry, Director Digital Product and Technology, Seven. “Yospace has helped us elevate the OTT viewing experience while opening up whole new bodies of inventory at scale. Yospace will continue to be an important partner as we continue to maximise the value of that inventory through programmatic.”

 

Best practice for monetising VoD with server-side ad insertion

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By David Springall, Founder & CTO at Yospace

The amount of video accessed online, particularly by mobile devices, is expanding exponentially.  As a result, there is a need to maximise the monetisation opportunities by delivering ads across multiple devices and platforms in the most efficient way possible.  In this post I discuss why applying SSAI across all content is the most logical way forward.

Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI, or dynamic ad insertion) can deliver a consistent experience akin to TV while opening up addressable advertising opportunities. Consistency comes in part from the ‘ad copy normalisation’ which is the process of transcoding ad content with the same bitrates, frame rates and audio levels as the underlying stream, ensuring a smooth transition between programme and ad and vice versa (with the same CDN being loaded for both content and ads).

SSAI technology is already being used successfully by broadcasters for live streaming.  However, the principal monetisation technique for VoD remains Client-Side Ad Insertion (CSAI), where, at the start of every ad break, the primary player is stopped and an ad player put on top, with the primary player having to be resumed at the end of the break.

For a broadcaster with both Live and VoD, it makes sense for a single advertising workflow to be applied across all content.  

It is possible for broadcasters to deliver a near-seamless experience using the CSAI model for VoD, by pre-loading the ad player and buffer in the background and swapping the players over at the exact moments when an ad break starts and ends. However, there is always the risk of playback issues caused by inconsistent encoding of the ad copy.  Also, considerable effort is required in terms of implementation, with code having to be continuously duplicated from one device type to another, and from one environment to another, with the inevitable testing and maintenance overhead to achieve this result consistently across devices.

Many of those broadcasters of VoD streams who have a working CSAI solution in place are finding it increasingly hard to maintain, so we’re seeing a growing interest in the SSAI approach.  This is partly driven by positive experiences of SSAI for live (where CSAI is not an option owing to the strict requirements around ad break timings). But there are a number of other reasons why SSAI should appeal to broadcasters over CSAI:

  • Implementation. The code is decoupled from the ad server, with the work on stitching and interfacing to the ad server being performed by the backend SSAI platform, giving an overall flexibility in that the inventory and decisioning engine is abstracted from the actual delivery. SDKs have also been developed, which means that there is effectively a middleware layer, with the SDKs talking to the backend, and the backend talking to the ad server, making it possible to swap out the ad server without changes to the SDKs.
  • Control. There can be a single point for all ad insertion calls across Live and VoD, a single interface providing access to a single set of Broadcast Streams, Promotions and VoD assets, and a single API providing real-time analytics.
  • Interactivity.The aforementioned SDKs can support the use of clickable linear content and dynamic overlays, and also allow broadcasters to customise the instances when skipping, seeking and pausing are allowed.
  • Ad blockers. The stitching used by SSAI mean that ad blockers are unable to decipher where the call to the server is being made, and so cannot differentiate between an ad and the content itself, making SSAI highly resistant to ad blocking.

Besides being able to deliver SSAI at scale and to provide all of the existing benefits of configurable user interactivity, SSAI has enormous security benefits, which cannot be totally covered in this article. In brief:

  • With SSAI, the aforementioned middleware layer affords control over the systems with which viewers are interacting. By contrast, with CSAI, the viewer’s device is touching the ad server and presenting its IP address (and potentially other information). The first party ad server might, in turn, involve the use of multiple third party servers and expose the same viewers to being tracked by unknown companies, to the possible detriment of a broadcaster’s commercial model.

With the correct deployment, there is no logical reason why broadcasters should not consider SSAI when deploying VoD streams. As OTT audiences for Live and VoD continue to thrive, providers are increasingly likely to seek a joined-up SSAI strategy, and by so doing, not only safeguard their current ad revenues, but also enhance them.

Read more on server-side ad insertion for live and VoD streams here.

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NAB 2019: Viewer Experience

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Three days down and less than one to go.  The voice is hoarse and the legs are tired but it’s been great to catch up with so many customers, prospects, partners and friends.  There’s a real change in the depth of detail of our conversations compared to previous years and it’s reassuring to hear people talk so highly of Yospace for server-side ad insertion, especially in a field where there is increasing competition.

I was very pleased to hear someone say today: “yes they do SSAI but they’re no Yospace.”  

For the last day we’re focussing our attention on some of the customer projects that have helped us earn our strong reputation…

Reducing ad load

The rise of OTT has seen many broadcasters urgently need to monetise online, and the challenge of retaining an audience has meant that a number of broadcasters have moved to reduce advertising with longer term benefits in mind. This is exactly what our customer Medialaan did on its live streams. The innovative European broadcaster allowed viewers on its Stievie service were able to rewind a live stream then receive shorter ad breaks to allow them to catch up with the live programming sooner.

The result was more engaged viewers, longer viewing sessions, and ultimately more ad breaks viewed.  Read about this more in our Medialaan case study.

Enhanced player support

The challenge of scaling live sports and their unpredictability demands any advertising system employed by a broadcaster to be both robust and versatile. Typically up to 90% of viewers tune into a football game within five minutes of kick-off, and it’s in situations like this that our pre-fetch system is crucial (read more about this in our Day One blog).

In addition to this, our SSAI enabled the broadcaster to monetise streams within an enhanced player and deliver on its ambitions to put the viewer front and centre of the action. Read more here.

Seven case study

Australian broadcaster Seven live streamed all 16 courts of the Australian Open.  Thanks to Yospace’s ability to feed back live telemetry data, Seven was able to prioritise the advertising based on the state of play of each court at any one time.

Find out more about this project in our Seven case study.

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NAB 2019: MPEG-DASH and CMAF

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Two days down and my colleague tells me we’re now exactly 54.8% of the way through the show.  Being at an event full of engineers I shouldn’t be surprised that someone’s actually developed an app for that.  Despite tired legs and croaking voice, there’s a buzz about NAB that makes me look forward to day three.  The speed with which conversations on concepts turn into new technologies means a show like NAB is always interesting.

Our main theme for tomorrow is SSAI support for MPEG-DASH and CMAF – two areas that have developed significantly in the last twelve months.

SSAI for MPEG-DASH

There’s been a lot of talk in the industry about MPEG-DASH.  Yospace was the first vendor to announce server-side ad insertion (SSAI) support for MPEG-DASH and isone of the only vendors today that has live customer services using it, so we’re in a strong position to talk from a point of experience.

The ecosystem for supporting MPEG-DASH is still relatively immature in terms of players, encoders and packagers.  Behind this is the fact that the specification for MPEG-DASH doesn’t specify exactly how an MPD should be expressed to support SSAI.  Read the thoughts of our Founder & CTO in this blog post.

CMAF

At 3.30pm our Founder & CTO David Springall will be presenting on the Bitmovin booth.  He’ll be discussing our integration points as well as server-side ad insertion for CMAF.  There’ll be an accompanying blog post – so check our Twitter and LinkedIn profiles to access it.

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NAB 2019: Server-Side Ad Insertion for VoD

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Day one, tick.  The show got off to a great start and we’ve had some really good discussions on scaling SSAI and maximising the potential of programmatic for live streams.  It’s a far cry from just a few years ago when most meetings would start with: “so what is server-side ad insertion??”

It’s pleasing now that most people we meet already know the answer to this question and are keen to get into the details of the technology.  We’re finding that discussions around consistency of viewer experience, measurement and data security are becoming more and more popular.

Harnessing the power of SSAI for VoD is our focus for day two at NAB.  Over the past year, we’ve seen a considerable increase in operators and MVPDs implementing SSAI for VoD to deliver viewing experience consistency throughout their device platforms.

Why is there a move towards Server-Side Ad Insertion for VoD?

In this article for TV Technology, Yospace’s Founder & CTO David Springall discusses why SSAI technology, which has been a staple of live monetisation for a number of years, is also proving to be a popular way of monetising VoD due to factors such as viewer experience, ease of maintenance and data security.

Data security is an especially important topic.  As operators and MVPDs increasingly rely on their first-party data to maximize ad revenues, having an effective middleware layer (SSAI) between the client and the ad server is crucial in protecting user data and preventing them from being re-targeted.

Total Video for TV4 pays dividends

Swedish innovator TV4 is an example of a broadcaster that’s making the most of a joined up live and VoD monetization strategy.  The broadcaster has recently agreed an extension with us to provide server-side ad insertion (SSAI) across its TV Everywhere service, TV4Play.

Mathias Berg, COO at TV4 Group said: “For the last couple of years TV4 has relentlessly been driving our business from a traditional linear ad model to a truly platform agnostic experience for both users and advertisers.  Part of this journey has been to enable us to capture and monetise on our digital inventory in all potential channels using all data available. As a result of a successful implementation of this strategy TV4 delivered its best financial result in terms of turnover and profitability in the history of the company in 2018.”

As a leader in the broadcast space that’s continued to reinvent itself, TV4 was one of the first broadcasters that recognised the value in using SSAI to monetize VoD.  Read this blog post to learn more about the company’s digital journey with SSAI.

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NAB 2019: Scaling programmatic for live events

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By Paul Davies, Marketing & Communications at Yospace

Welcome to Las Vegas.  Despite being home to a hundred resorts and 150,000 hotel rooms, it feels like I know everyone here during NAB week – whether it’s bumping into a customer in the cab queue or taking a table next to a tech partner – the broadcast engineering industry seems to take over the city during the event.

Our focus for the first day of NAB is scaling programmatic for major live events.  In order to maximise ad revenues, programmatic systems need adequate time to respond in a major live event set up, and this need is especially apparent in a low latency environment.

Programmatic vs. Low Latency

The ability to scale live SSAI and to plan for future scale, in an environment where all viewers see an ad break at the same time, is really important but is made more complex as there are two opposing forces at play:

  1. The need to allow programmatic platforms the time they need to respond to fully realise the value of the ad inventory
  2. Low latency support, which shortens the time available to the programmatic ecosystem

To maximise the revenue opportunity, it’s necessary to make ad decisioning calls in an orderly fashion way ahead of the actual break taking place.  Our prefetch system allows ad calls to be made early, allowing the time needed to return a full pod of ads for each viewer, and this is a crucial element of our offering that we’ve been sharing with visitors to our booth at the show.

You can read more in this blog post.

For a more in-depth explanation read our white paper.

Prebidding

Once you have prefetch in place you can plan for advanced programmatic; the next opportunity to explore is prebidding.  Prebidding replicates the benefits of web header bidding for video.  By calling all supply-side platforms simultaneously, we can inform the ad server of the responses to help it make an informed decision on which ads to place and ensure the highest available CPM can be secured.

Read more in this blog post.

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