Adobe Primetime Ad Serving with IAB VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 Support

Adobe is continuing to invest heavily in our core ad serving capabilities with the general availability launch of Adobe Primetime. As part of our ongoing efforts to lead the industry in video monetization for content programmers and distributors, we’re rolling out significant enhancements to Adobe Primetime Ad Serving (fka Adobe Auditude) to comply with the latest VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 standards. We’re excited to be the only video ad server in the market today that’s capable of both generating and reading VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 ad calls.

The IAB’s Video Ad Serving Template, or VAST, was developed to provide publishers and advertisers with a common language for video player technology. In parallel, the Digital Video Multiple Ad Playlist, or VMAP, was created to detail ad insertion possibilities in instances where a programmer doesn’t control the video player or end-point distribution channel for content it owns.

The purpose of these two standards is to make video advertising more scalable and straightforward for industry participants, and Adobe is happy to announce that our Adobe Primetime Ad Serving is fully VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 compliant. It is capable of both generating and reading VAST 3.0 ad calls, and allowing for inventory rights sharing among programmers and distributors with VMAP 1.0.

Before the introduction of VAST and VMAP, publishers using different players for different playback environments required advertisers to create unique ad responses for each site or device they wished to target. This created significant operational headaches, and limited the amount of money that media buyers were willing to spend on digital video. While earlier versions of VAST allowed advertisers to address these challenges, the standard also laid the groundwork to enable content programmers and distributors to communicate among themselves more efficiently. VAST 3.0 builds further on this foundation.

The latest versions, VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0, add a number of features and enhancements, including new details for the ad response format and how video players interpret and return signals to and from an ad server. According to the IAB:

With VAST 3.0, video players now have the ability to declare which ad formats they support. Five formats are provided as options: Linear Ads, NonLinear Ads, Skippable Linear Ads, Linear Ads with Companions, and Ad Pods (a sequenced group of ads). Skippable Linear Ads and Ad Pods are new formats offered with this release. Some video players choose to only support certain VAST ad formats in accordance with their publishing business model. With VAST 3.0, the guesswork of which VAST ad format a player supports is eliminated.

The VAST ad-­serving process when ads are served directly from a publisher’s system to the video player (Image credit: IAB)

The VAST ad-­serving process when ads are served directly from a publisher’s system to the video player (Image credit: IAB)

And:

With VMAP, video content owners can exercise control over the ad inventory displayed in their content when they can’t control the video player, to capitalize on advertising while maintaining the integrity of their program content. VMAP enables the content owner to define the ad breaks within their content, including the timing for each break, how many breaks are available, what type of ads and how many are allowed in each break.

A simplified example of the VMAP serving process (Image credit: IAB)

A simplified example of the VMAP serving process (Image credit: IAB)

The primary advantage of VAST 3.0 is that it enables monetization of breaks with multiple ads via a single ad call. This third-party ad server can control the entire ad experience for the break. In combination with VMAP 1.0, this is ideal for full-length TV episodes, which typically have several breaks with more than one ad, and for which inventory splits between the programmer and the distributor are common. With the prior versions of VAST, the ad server could only request and respond to one ad at a time – it wasn’t possible to efficiently support breaks with more than one ad. VAST 2.0 was built for short clips, but VAST 3.0 has been designed for true broadcast-to-IP TV.

Without a VAST 3.0-compliant ad server, a broadcaster will typically have to manually traffic ads against individual ad positions in a single commercial break to prevent an ad from appearing more than once. Implementing competitive blocking and enabling robust analytics and forecasting are similarly labor-intensive. This presents a trafficking nightmare for ad operations – and doesn’t scale.

VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 are especially important for driving broader adoption of TV Everywhere because these protocols enable shared inventory rights between programmers and distributors. Inventory rights sharing requires interoperability between partners’ video players and ad servers, which VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 provide. A distributor who deploys and controls the video player typically has to call a programmer’s ad server to insert ads that the content partner has sold. For example, a programmer may give two of every 20 minutes of ad space to a cable operator for local spots; this type of inventory sharing is made possible with VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 redirects between the content programmer and distributor’s ad servers.

Global broadcasters and distributors like NBC and Comcast are increasingly turning to Adobe Primetime for its unified workflow across publishing, advertising and analytics. Adobe Primetime now features the industry’s only video ad server that can both generate and read VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 ad calls, making the process of fully monetizing broadcast video even simpler for both content programmers and distributors.

Adobe Shows Herokon and More at GDC

HerokonWe told you back in September that Silver Style Studios was working on their brand new MMORPG game called Herokon – based on the German pen and paper RPG Das Schwarze Auge. Well, they recently launched the English version of the game and we’re showing it off at out booth at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week. So, stop by to see the game up close or go to this link to sign up and start playing online: https://phex.herokon-online.com/en/play/

Also, check out the full success story here to see how Silver Style developed this amazing game using Adobe Gaming Tools.

Girl Gamers are on the Rise! All Female Team of Developers from Arizona State University Follow their Dreams and Create Maia

Under guidance from Graphic Information Technology (GIT) professor Arnaud Ehgner, a team of female students from Arizona State University (ASU) has been working tirelessly on a school project to develop a one-level game on par with those created by industry professionals.

Maia, a 2D side-scroll action game for portable devices, is a magical jungle adventure that leads the player through a series of mysterious temples and ruins where the priestess—Maia—tries to head off an attack and keep peace in the village of Kuma.

The game is developed using 3D models for a 2D game. While the scenery is 2D, the characters are created first in 3D, and then transplanted into a 2D world. The team chose to develop the game using Adobe solutions including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Flash Professional because of the compatibility across platforms. Illustrator is used for the game’s concept art; Photoshop to finalize artwork with shading, touch-ups, and closing up texture seams; and Flash Professional for creating an engaging game with consistency across platforms.

“Adobe Photoshop also helps us play with the different perspectives by easily letting us translate and rotate the 3D models onto a 2D plane,” said team leader Rachel Ramsey.

The game targets female players with a strong leading female character. “I am so excited to be a part of Maia, as it has been one of my childhood dreams to create a video game with a strong female protagonist,” notes team member Jennifer Davidson.

Maia, now being expanded to three levels, will officially launch at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2014 for the Independent Gaming Competition and be available as a free demo for a limited time on iOS and Android tablet and mobile devices.

ASU

Comprised of six women, team ‘Femme Fatale’ as shown in photo left to right: Liza Gutierrez, Jennifer Davidson, Samantha Hannis, Marcella Martinez, Skylar Mowery (Rachel Ramsey not pictured.) Photo by GIT major, Tessa Menken

Find out more information: Maia on FacebookMaia on TwitterMaia on Tumblr

A Vibrant Web Development Community: Pushing the Edges of the Web

It is really amazing to see the level of energy and enthusiasm around Web technology and how the envelop get constantly pushed by developers. This becomes really visible in the conferences that happen around the world on the topic. In our teams, we attend and participate to a lot of events as a way to present new advances on the Web but also as a way to learn and be aware of developer pain points.

In the last week alone, for example, we have been involved in various events.

First, Adobe hosted W3Conf in San Francisco.

1

This is a conference organized by the W3C and which addresses Web developers. The agenda was packed with great talks such as Eric Meyer’s presentation on “The Era of Intentional Layout”, Adobe’s CJ Gammon’s inspiring talk about the future of reading (see “Do androids read electric books?” or Adobe’s Alexandru Chiculita’s stories from the mobile web trenches in “The making of CSSFilterLab”. And of course, Joshua Davis’ talk on “Beyond Play: the Art of Creative Coding” showed how web technologies (SVG) can be used in the creative process, even though not necessarily inside a browser.

2

An example of generative art by Joshua Davis shown at W3Conf

 

3

A slide from Christofer Gammon’s W3Conf talk – Pushing the edges of the Web!

Read more about the W3Conf, the Doc Sprint that was held after, and the Processing Workshop by Joshua Davis.

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend W3Conf myself, but that was for a good reason: I was speaking at another great conference in Bangalore, India. The conference was called Meta Refresh and gathered a lot of developers and designers. I enjoyed giving a talk about “The Quest for the Graphical Web” and listening to speakers who thought beyond simple responsive layouts to get into content prioritization and interleaving (see Arpan Chinta’s talk “Getting serious about Responsive Web Design”) and questioned our approach to design altogether (with Tulsi Dharmarajan’s talk “High on design”).

4

Another example of a great conference is Web Visions NewYork where Mihnea-Vlad Ovidenie from our team talked about “Using CSS Regions to Create Magazine-like Layouts for Any Screen” and Kevin Hoyt gave a presentation on “Building Mobile Applications with Web Standards”.

5

All those events are a testimony of the activity around the Web platform (if proof was needed!) and how creative it is becoming. It is also nice to be in a day and age when, if you miss a conference, or cannot travel to it, you can alway catch up online with videos. See the W3Conf videos and the Meta Refresh videos for example.

We are actively involved in organizing or sponsoring events to make the web better, please join us at html.adobe.com/events!

Game On: The Present and Future of Game Development

The Adobe Gaming crew has been out and about a lot lately, participating in large, multisite events that inspire youth and young adults to explore game development for fun and even as a potential profession.

First, we participated in the Global Game Jam, Jan. 25–27. More than 11,000 developers from 319 sites in 63 countries spent 48 adrenaline-fueled hours working on more than 3,100 projects based on this year’s theme, sound of a heartbeat. It was an exciting intellectual and creative marathon for programming, iterative design, narrative exploration, and artistic expression.

On Feb. 6, Adobe visited schools around the United States to promote digital literacy as part of Digital Learning Day. Nearly 25, 000 teachers and millions of students participated in all 50 states. The national campaign spotlights successful instructional technology practices in K–12 public schools.

In the Global Game Jam (GGJ), participants gathered late Friday afternoon, watched a short video keynote with advice from leading game developers, and then received the contest’s secret “sound of a heartbeat” theme. All sites worldwide were then challenged to make games based on that theme, with games to be completed by Sunday afternoon. Although the event is heavily focused on programming, there are many other areas where people who don’t code contributed to game development.

Many of our Adobe colleagues attended the event at locations worldwide. For instance, Adobe evangelist Andy Hall, in Sydney, Australia, went to cheer on jammers programming with Adobe Flash. “Organizers loved it and were happy to let us speak, hang around and interview people, or do whatever we wanted really,” Hall says. “With that said, at the Sydney Jam, my presence as an evangelist was not really necessary. Everyone there knew their technology backwards and forwards.”

Sushi

For the GGJ, Adobe sponsored an award for the best game made with Adobe Flash, which went to Monster Sushi Train. It features a monster sushi chef who cuts hearts into shapes requested by other monsters at a sushi bar. Its programmers are Chris Suffern, Wayne Petzler, and David Kofoed Wind. Check it out at http://www.playgamespro.com/game/1844/Sushi-Monster-Train.html.

For the K-12-focused Digital Learning Day, Adobe Gaming used the opportunity to connect with students—many of whom had limited previous computer experience—tackle the task of building a game with Adobe Flash Professional. Besides introducing them to Adobe Flash Professional, Adobe helped kids from different backgrounds collaborate in ways that made the best use of each student’s unique skills and interests, whether those interests included zombies or American history.

Achieving digital literacy through game design is also one of the goals of Globaloria, an Adobe education partner. Globaloria is a turnkey academic curriculum that uses a social learning network and game design to promote computing knowledge and global citizenship. As part of Digital Literacy Day, the Adobe Foundation has committed to match all donations made to Globaloria up to $50,000. You can be a part of it by donating at http://www.globaloria.org/adobe. Besides funding Globaloria’s initiatives, your donations help fund the World Wide Workshop, Globaloria’s parent organization. The World Wide Workshop supports publicly shared, long-term projects that are complex, computational, immersive, and innovative, so children build long-term skills for learning and critical thinking.

PlayHaven Offers AIR Native Extensions

playhavenWe had the pleasure recently of connecting with PlayHaven to learn more about their powerful marketing platform, how they are helping mobile game developers monetize their products, and the benefits of offering AIR Native Extensions. Recently profiled in Forbes Magazine on the free-to-play model and helping monetize more than 4,000 titles, PlayHaven offers additional insight in the Q&A below.

What is your name and role at PlayHaven?
My name is Lauren Lamonica Rosenthal and I’m a product manager at PlayHaven. I’m always working to make better products and refine the experience for our game developer partners.

What is PlayHaven?
PlayHaven is a lifetime value maximization platform that mobile game developers use to better acquire understand, and intelligently engage and monetize players.

We currently provide an iOS and an Android open source SDK for game developers to integrate into their applications. With these integrated game developers can send targeted content to their players from our web dashboard in real time—including cross promotions, rewards and virtual good promotions. We also offer a powerful ad network with 4,000 mobile games and 100 million unique monthly users.

Where is PlayHaven located?
PlayHaven is based in San Francisco, CA with an office in Portland, OR.

Why did you start PlayHaven? What were you solving in the market by launching PlayHaven?
PlayHaven launched its platform to help mobile game developers solve the challenges they face acquiring, engaging, retaining and monetizing players. The team saw an opportunity to help developers build better relationships with their players in an easy and flexible platform.

Our goal with the PlayHaven platform is to give mobile game developers a single service that allows them consume and understand relevant information about their users and take meaningful actions that will maximize the value of their players.

Why did PlayHaven create the AIR Native Extension (ANE)?
We know that there’s a vast community of high quality game developers who don’t write their games in native code, and we want to make our platform as widely available as possible. With the the PlayHaven AIR Native Extension, game developers get access to the same set of acquisition, engagement and monetization tools that we offer to Adobe developers coding natively.

What are the benefits of ANE for you? For your mobile developers?
The PlayHaven ANE will help us reach 12,000 of the most creative and innovative live app and game developers using Adobe’s platform. We’re thrilled to join the Adobe community.

The AIR Native Extensions makes it simple for mobile game developers using Adobe AIR to quickly integrate PlayHaven into iOS and Android apps using Flash’s ActionScript and start benefiting from the entire PlayHaven platform.

How do you use the ANE?  Any links to tutorial information to get developers started?
Adobe AIR mobile game developers for iOS and Android can use the PlayHaven native extension to run ads and deliver targeted in-game marketing communications to players including cross promotion of other games, rewards, virtual good promotions, announcements, and opt-in data collection. Sign up on playhaven.com to download the native extension, and then add it to your project library to get started.

Developers can find tutorial detail on GitHub.

Why are Adobe solutions like AIR and Flash important to game developers?
Creative people love to create. They want to build rich, interactive experiences for their players and be focused on creating a cutting-edge game. Adobe has always made user-friendly software that serves the creative professional with familiar interfaces and deep possibilities. As the mobile gaming industry becomes increasingly fragmented with more operating systems and devices offered up as gaming platforms, developers will turn to solutions like AIR because they trust Adobe to guide them through a new medium with good tutorials and minimal red tape.

What’s next for PlayHaven?
Product innovation is our top priority and we’ll continue to invest in tools that help our developer community maximize the lifetime value of their players. But, without saying too much, adding tools to our engagement suite and providing data-driven insights for developers are ways we’re continuing to create a more valuable experience for our partners.

Packaged Web Apps with PhoneGap

Adobe acquired PhoneGap a little over a year ago because it was and continues to be the leading solution for Mobile Application developers who want to use their HTML5 skills to create native applications.

Essentially, PhoneGap lets a developer write HTML, JavaScript and CSS content, use mobile APIs providing much needed functionality (such as device orientation, access to the address book or location) which is not always yet available in browsers and package these applications as native ones so they can be distributed in application stores such as Google Play or the Apple AppStore.

PhoneGap is the solution that is based on the open source Apache Cordova project, similar to the way the Chrome browser, for example, is based on the WebKit open source project.

Since PhoneGap is using an open source platform targeted at developers and created by a community, the following gives recent updates about the different aspects.

Platforms

Despite the holidays, there was a flurry of activity in the mobile web world. The Cordova team released 2.3 with full support for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 (Window 8 support was added in 2.2). The popular iOS and Android projects saw more performance and bug fixes. Long anticipated BlackBerry 10 is shipping this month with complete support. Working closely with Mozilla, the team also has Firefox OS on the horizon early this year. 

Tools

New common Command Line Interface (CLI) tooling is progressing to beta quality for building projects. The plugin tooling is now quite mature for iOS and Android. Work is now starting to migrate the core API to plugins, and add support for BlackBerry and Windows Phone. The Ripple emulator received much love in December bringing in beta quality support for remote device proxy and the ability to host Ripple. Also good news, the long awaited PhoneGap/Build CLI is ready for beta, integration to the PhoneGap release can be expected in the coming releases.

Community

An open source community health is directly proportional to the activity on the code. Operationally speaking, Cordova offers monthly stable source-only releases and a bleeding edge development channel. However, things are progressing and we will likely see stable, beta, and dev channels available in Cordova 2.4. The project has matured in adoption enough to justify this third release channel for developers that want to be on the bleeding edge. The team will continue to ship PhoneGap on the same cadence. 

We added one committer from IBM in December, and have seen two new contributors become active in the project from the Google Chrome team.

Adobe Gaming Powers International Racing Squirrels

This week we wanted to highlight independent studio Playniac in our ongoing series of Adobe Gaming customer snapshots.

IRSAdobe Game Developer Tools allowed the company to create and deploy International Racing Squirrels across multiple platforms and devices from one code base. Players manage a team of unruly squirrels racing on tracks around the world and with 25 levels of fun and an iOS version of the game, it is sure to keep you busy for a while. Squirrels has received several awards including, finalist status in IndieCade 2012, finalist in 2012 Develop Indie Showcase, 4.5/5 stars by Indie Game Reviewer and was featured in Kongregate’s Hot New Games in 2012

Learn how they produced their wild, colorful new title in our most recent post case study here. If you’re looking to build your own great games with Adobe Gaming technologies, check out our Gaming site for more information.

2013: Full Speed Ahead for Adobe Gaming!

As we move into 2013, we’re excited to make investments that support the incredible, ongoing momentum in social and mobile gaming that Adobe has championed for more than a year. Flash technologies underpinned the success of many game developers from Fresh Planet to Zynga, both in the browser and on mobile, and you can see how Adobe Gaming technologies deliver the reach needed to improve game monetization in the graphic below.

numbers-inside-social-casual-gaming

In December, the Adobe Gaming team launched the first ever, packaged Adobe Game Developer Tools via the Creative Cloud. Within 2 weeks of their availability, we had over 20,000 downloads of the tools and more than 12,000 views of the Adobe Scout video! Today, we’re making it even easier for game developers by removing a key barrier to delivering games targeting Flash Player – from this point forward, the XC APIs are no longer classified as a Premium Feature for Flash Player, which means developers can use them royalty-free without a separate license from Adobe. Developers and publishers that have published content using the XC APIs do not need to make any changes to their content to reflect this change in status for the XC APIs, and we expect this adjustment to make it even easier for developers to use Flash and AIR as their cross-device game development workflow of choice. To find out more, check out the updated FAQ here.

In addition, we’re also announcing added funding for the Away Foundation, a non-profit Community Interest Company based in the UK, focusing on building and maintaining free and open source software resources for online and mobile games and applications. This funding will support the development and release of Away3D 4.1 and an exciting new open source project for Away Builder. Away Builder 1.0 is the first open source tool project for the foundation, and will provide a visual tool for designers that exposes and edits custom Away3D settings and object properties on 3D assets without the need for coding. And just last week, we updated the Gaming SDK, which includes the latest Away3D, Starling and Feathers frameworks as well as updates for the latest runtime releases. Working with Away has already produced several exciting advances for game developers using Adobe technologies and will continue to forward the delivery of rich games targeting mobile and the browser for years to come. Starforce Delta is a great example of a beautiful 3D RPG built with Away3D and now available on the web in open beta and coming soon as a mobile app. And if a touch of the 19th century is more your thing, check out Jane Austen Regency Dressup, as well as other games using the Away3D framework on the Away3D showcase.

IGFWe also wanted to highlight a handful of great games that really reflect the breadth of creativity using Adobe Gaming technologies and show off the skills and passion of the developers who made them. Four games using Adobe Gaming technologies were recently announced as Independent Game Festival (IGF) finalists! Incredipede, a beautifully illustrated browser-based game; Dys4ia, an autobiographical game about undergoing hormone replacement therapy as a trans woman; Intrusion 2, a sci-fi action platform game; and Super Hexagon, a fast-paced reflex game where you’ve gotta be great to survive 20 seconds.

And just in case you didn’t get your fill of zombies in 2012, check out GREE’s Zombie Jombie in the iOS App Store. GREE used PhoneGap Build – another Adobe Gaming technology – for this wildly addictive RPG card game that will surely have you selling for brains. It’s shaping up to be a wide open year ahead for Adobe Gaming, and we’re looking forward to conquering new worlds with you!

Adobe Developer Spotlight: John Cooney

John CooneyIn an ongoing effort to highlight developers who push the boundaries of game creation, we recently caught up with John Cooney, whose work at Armor Games (and now Kongregate) has generated some pretty remarkable things. He’s responsible for more than 90 gaming titles working on all the game design, programming, artwork and sound engineering. John will also be speaking at the upcoming Flash Gaming Summit in San Francisco if you’d like to meet him in person. In the meantime, we wanted to share our conversation about his inspiration, where he thinks the gaming industry is going, and more. Enjoy!

How did you get started as a developer?

Back in high school, I was really interested in animation and wanted to become an animator. The high school computers all had Flash installed and I was hooked from the first animation I produced. I started to freelance game development and formed my own company to help pay for college and living. When approached by Daniel McNeely (founder of Armor Games) to join his company, I jumped on board. All this happened over about five years, and by that time Flash was HUGE for games.

Do you have any advice for burgeoning developers?

Share your successes and failures. The best way we learn is to bounce ideas, send out works in progress, and collaborate when we need help. Your audience, fellow developers, and you will gain a lot from it!

What inspires you and your work?

I find most inspiration just in daily life. A game about traffic lights comes from the long commute home. A game about dinosaurs on treadmills came from a moving walkway at the airport. Ideas are everywhere. They just need testing and coaxing to get moving in the right direction.

You’ve worked on a lot of titles so far. What’s the project that you’re most proud of, and why?

I have a lot of projects I’m proud of, but the project I am probably the happiest about is Coinbox Hero. The game is about a floating box that you shoot, punch, and kick to rattle out coins. Coins pay for even more expensive items and weapons to further abuse the box for. The game is made entirely in Flash.

I began by trying to understand the technology requirements of this game.  There would be a lot of coins, as many as I could render would be the ultimate goal. Using bitmapData and copyPixels, I managed to draw about 5,000 coins at a time without taxing the computer too much (this was at a time when Stage3D wasn’t available, so everything was on the CPU). This was REALLY impressive for the time. And since it’s Flash, I could use vector objects as well, so I rendered all my menus, characters, and backgrounds in vector.

The game was a short project, it only took about a week to produce – Flash makes rapid prototyping and fast game design easy. When launched, it gathered about a million plays in the first few weeks. Overall, it was a game that embodied the kind of work I do – over-the-top, joyous, simple games.

What products or applications do you use?

I use Flash Professional CS6 right now. I’ve always done all my programming through the IDE ever since I started in Flash 5. Most of the artwork is also produced in Flash. I’ve always loved the Flash IDE because it’s so fast and easy to use. Having a cohesive programming/artwork environment is all I need to make great content.

Where’s the industry going?

I think “social gaming” is going to find its way more and more into traditional gaming, hopefully in ways that will enhance these games to be better experiences for everyone. A lot of hardcore gamers sneer at the idea of seeing social in their games, but when social is done to make the game a better experience everyone wins. Mobile games will continue to be big. Indie titles like Minecraft are making it huge, and Flash games are still as exciting and innovative as ever.

For more about John and his work, check out his website. If you know (or are!) a developer who’d be interested in participating in our spotlight, please be sure to let us know in the comments section below, @AdobeFlash or on Facebook. Also, if you’ve developed an Adobe Gaming project, share it with us in our Flash Rocks gallery.