Archive for February, 2012

Confession of an Ad Guy

I have a con­fes­sion to make. I’ve been in the dig­i­tal ad busi­ness since 1999 – a long time by inter­net stan­dards – and my entire per­spec­tive on what makes the dig­i­tal world go round has been adver­tis­ing. The real­ity, espe­cially in dig­i­tal video, is that is wrong.

I didn’t real­ize the chal­lenges until I became the CEO of Audi­tude and was hit smack in the face by the many hur­dles lim­it­ing our customer’s abil­ity to mon­e­tize their con­tent – well before an ad is sold, traf­ficked, or served. In fact, there is a lot of work that goes into cre­at­ing and serv­ing up the con­tent before you can even think about mon­e­tiz­ing it with ads – and if the ad guys like me aren’t work­ing with their con­tent coun­ter­parts – the oppor­tu­nity that online video adver­tis­ing rep­re­sents will never come to fruition.

My point is – it’s time for the dig­i­tal indus­try to break out of its silos. Media com­pa­nies and pub­lish­ers have been forced to piece together best-of-breed point solu­tions, make their own invest­ments in tech­nol­ogy to fill the gaps and/or build the bridges, and then hope their part­ners work together. This has made it inef­fi­cient and dif­fi­cult for media com­pa­nies and pub­lish­ers to max­i­mize the value of con­tent they want to bring online – putting them at a huge dis­ad­van­tage in a world of dis­rup­tion.

This is the exact prob­lem Adobe addresses with the announce­ment of Project Prime­time.   By seam­lessly com­bin­ing pub­lish­ing, adver­tis­ing and ana­lyt­ics into a sin­gle plat­form, many of the inef­fi­cien­cies men­tioned above are addressed. Project Prime­time breaks down the silo’ed walls that have existed to help media com­pa­nies and pub­lish­ers more effi­ciently and effec­tively deliver and mon­e­tize their dig­i­tal con­tent across con­nected devices.

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When I shared this vision with a room full of dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing exec­u­tives yes­ter­day at the IAB Annual Lead­er­ship Meet­ing, there was much agree­ment with the chal­lenges in bring­ing more dig­i­tal con­tent online and there was great pos­i­tive response to the Project Prime­time vision and demo we shared. From an adver­tis­ing per­spec­tive (here I go again with my adver­tis­ing-cen­tric per­spec­tive :)), the ben­e­fits include:

  • A bet­ter viewer expe­ri­ence, which aids con­tent and ad engage­ment
  • More scal­able deliver of ads to con­nected devices
  • Com­bin­ing con­tent and ad ana­lyt­ics to provide rev­enue-based insights

In less than 4 months since announc­ing its acqui­si­tion of Audi­tude, Adobe has begun to deliver on an inte­grated vision it is uniquely posi­tioned to solve; mov­ing swiftly into help­ing mon­e­tize con­tent and deliv­er­ing a plat­form that will ben­e­fit those com­pa­nies look­ing to bring more con­tent online.

 

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Project Primetime to Enable a Single Video Publishing Workflow, Starting with Adobe Access for iOS and MPEG-Dash Support

As part of the quickly evolv­ing device land­scape, a uni­fied video pub­lish­ing work­flow is more impor­tant than ever. Indi­vid­ual work­flows for speci­fic devices or plat­forms are not a long-term approach. It’s like hav­ing to build a dif­fer­ent car, depend­ing on the city you want to travel to. It’s expen­sive and dis­tracts from the impor­tant part of your video appli­ca­tion, the user expe­ri­ence.

As part of Project Prime­time, we are con­tin­u­ing to invest in our own tech­nol­ogy and indus­try stan­dards that enable our video cus­tomers to have a sin­gle work­flow that enables them to reach any web-enabled devices.

What does this mean for you? Instead of hav­ing to worry about using dif­fer­ent con­tent pro­tec­tion, video deliv­ery or video pub­lish­ing work­flows, Project Prime­time will provide a holis­tic solu­tion, which will make your video strat­egy uniquely easy to deploy, pro­tect and mon­e­tize.

We’re mak­ing two announce­ments today that will bring the indus­try towards a sin­gle video pub­lish­ing work­flow:

Adobe Access for native iOS appli­ca­tions

Adobe Access, our robust Dig­i­tal Rights Man­age­ment tech­nol­ogy, will sup­port native iOS appli­ca­tions.  With Adobe Access’ exist­ing sup­port for desk­top (99% reach via Flash Player), Android (via AIR 3.0) and Smart TVs (via AIR for TV 2.5), video pub­lish­ers can now reach a huge dig­i­tal audi­ence with a sin­gle con­tent pro­tec­tion solu­tion.

Here’s how it works: Adobe pro­vides an Adobe Access DRM library that can be inte­grated into your native iOS appli­ca­tion.  You build your expe­ri­ence using the Apple SDK, add the Adobe Access library as a com­po­nent, and deliver through the Apple App Store. The Adobe Access DRM library pro­vides all the nec­es­sary robust­ness. The video con­tent is streamed using Apple’s HLS (HTTP Live Stream­ing) pro­to­col, and Adobe Access pro­vides the con­tent pro­tec­tion required by stu­dios.

MPEG-DASH sup­port

We are announc­ing that our stream­ing tech­nolo­gies will sup­port the emerg­ing stan­dard MPEG-DASH. It will provide the reach and flex­i­bil­ity required for a uni­fied video work­flow. It will not replace, but provide addi­tional reach to exist­ing Adobe stream­ing pro­to­cols. You can read more about our announce­ment here.

We are very excited about these announce­ments, which are first steps to provide a uni­fied video pub­lish­ing work­flow that will offer the best reach, pro­tec­tion and mon­e­ti­za­tion for video con­tent.

Online Video Is Ready for “Primetime”

We are excited to announce Project Prime­time, Adobe’s inte­grated video tech­nol­ogy plat­form to enable smooth, TV-like expe­ri­ences for ad-sup­ported videos across Web-con­nected devices.

Prime­time cre­ates a sin­gle work­flow for pre­mium video pub­lish­ers and media com­pa­nies that inter­con­nects Adobe stream­ing tech­nolo­gies, con­tent pro­tec­tion, ana­lyt­ics and opti­miza­tion with the recently acquired Audi­tude video adver­tis­ing plat­form.

By inte­grat­ing con­tent pub­lish­ing, adver­tis­ing, and ana­lyt­ics – video pub­lish­ers will be able to give con­sumers a supe­rior view­ing expe­ri­ence through seam­less dynamic ad inser­tion into any con­tent type, whether lin­ear, live or on-demand across Web-con­nected devices. Adobe Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Suite is inte­gral to Prime­time, ensur­ing that media com­pa­nies are able to com­bine con­sump­tion and rev­enue data to increase the rel­e­vance of their con­tent and ads.

The Indus­try Needs Inte­grated Video Solu­tion to Bring Con­tent and Ad Dol­lars Online

The adop­tion of web-enabled devices by con­sumers over the past few years has been stag­ger­ing.  Between desk­top com­put­ers, tablets, smart phones, game con­soles, and SmartTVs, con­sumers have at their fin­ger­tips bil­lions of devices that can deliver media expe­ri­ences over the Inter­net.

And, adver­tis­ers have long shown their desire to reach audi­ences in engag­ing expe­ri­ences like video.  The “offline” TV adver­tis­ing mar­ket will be $200+ B by 2014.  Within online adver­tis­ing, adver­tis­ers want to shift spend­ing video.  A recent eMar­keter report (June 2011) fore­casts video grow­ing from about 14% to over 32% of total dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing spend­ing by 2015, tak­ing mar­ket share from both ban­ner and rich media adver­tis­ing.

The audi­ence is enabled, the adver­tiser is inter­ested – so why is less than 5% of pro­fes­sion­ally pro­duced con­tent avail­able online?

1. The user expe­ri­ence for audi­ences view­ing video ads today is infe­rior to tele­vi­sion.  I don’t know about you – but my TV attached to my set top box doesn’t buffer between the pro­gram­ming and the ads.  But, with online video, the pro­cess­ing required to load client heavy adver­tis­ing plug-ins often trig­gers that flick­er­ing cir­cle. And who wants to wait for an ad to buffer?  No one – and that’s a prob­lem for view­ers, pub­lish­ers and adver­tis­ers alike.

Prime­time elim­i­nates the need for heavy adver­tis­ing plug-ins by mov­ing more of the pro­cess­ing to the cloud, which means no more flick­er­ing cir­cles wait­ing for ads to load, whether you’re on a desk­top or mobile device. It feels like what you see on TV, but on any device.

2. Con­nected devices are frag­mented.  My set top box could con­nect to any TV and play­back the same con­tent stream from my PayTV provider.  But online the oppo­site is true.  Every device plat­form sup­ports largely dif­fer­ent tech­nol­ogy – mak­ing it com­plex and expen­sive for pub­lish­ers to build video expe­ri­ences for every device.  Today, pub­lish­ers have to make hard trade­offs on which devices to sup­port – which reduces their audi­ence size and rev­enue poten­tial

Prime­time enables a sin­gle work­flow to reach the major­ity of web-enabled device plat­forms, whether smart­phone, tablet, game con­sole, desk­top or SmartTV.

3. Insert­ing ads into con­nected devices is hard.   Con­nected device plat­forms have intro­duced new tech­nolo­gies and work­flows for stream­ing video con­tent – where ad inser­tion has not been well defined.  Cre­at­ing scal­able mod­els for insert­ing ads into con­nected devices is exac­er­bated by the lower pro­cess­ing power of con­nected devices, ver­sus desk­top com­put­ers.

Prime­time enables both server-side and client-side inte­gra­tions of con­tent and ads that allow for effi­cient and scal­able deliv­ery of mon­e­ti­z­able video con­tent.

4. Ad and con­tent ana­lyt­ics are siloed.  Video pub­lish­ers typ­i­cally use sep­a­rate sys­tems (usu­ally from dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies) to mea­sure how their audi­ences engaged with con­tent from how their audi­ences engaged with ads.  This impairs vis­i­bil­ity into the cor­re­la­tion between audi­ence engage­ment with con­tent and ad rev­enue.

Prime­time com­bi­nes site-side ana­lyt­ics from Adobe’s Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Suite with ad ana­lyt­ics from Audi­tude to provide rev­enue-base ana­lyt­ics used to increase rev­enue and engage­ment.

In short — through an inte­grated con­tent and adver­tis­ing work­flow and bet­ter data-dri­ven mon­e­ti­za­tion, Project Prime­time will empower the con­tent and ad ecosys­tem, which will make it pos­si­ble for more con­tent to flow online.

Prime­time High­lights

As part of the first phase of Prime­time, we are show­cas­ing Prime­time High­lights, which enables video pub­lish­ers to cre­ate and pub­lish live event high­lights, with ads, in min­utes.

Event high­lights are a great way to show the power of inte­grat­ing video pub­lish­ing and adver­tis­ing.  First, view­ers only watch high­lights for a few hours after events occur.  If you can’t quickly pub­lish and mon­e­tize a high­light, it’s not worth cre­at­ing it.  Sec­ond, user expe­ri­ence really mat­ters with short form con­tent – view­ers are more likely to aban­don if there is buffer­ing, etc.

How does it work?  We’ve cre­ated a high­light tool that is tightly inte­grated with the Audi­tude ad plat­form.  The high­light tool lets you set the in and out points of the clip, and add meta­data like title, genre, etc.  Once you hit pub­lish, the Audi­tude plat­form auto­mat­i­cally knows that ad inven­tory is avail­able, and can tar­get ads based on the meta­data entered in the high­light tool.  To make this even eas­ier to imple­ment, we are also pro­vid­ing a full video player*.

Here’s a video of how it works:

After acquir­ing Audi­tude about three months ago, we are thrilled to be bring­ing Prime­time to mar­ket to accel­er­ate online video, start­ing with Prime­time High­lights.  Expect us to be equally aggres­sive in sup­port­ing 24x7 lin­ear, on-demand, and live with more announce­ments com­ing through­out 2012.

Check back tomor­row for Jens Loeffler’s take on our Adobe Access sup­port for iOS.  And, for more insight into our MPEG-DASH announce­ment, see Kevin Towes’ blog post here.