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.

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.

 

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.

Mobile Gaming Gets a Performance Boost: Adobe AIR 3.2 with 2D and 3D Hardware Acceleration Announced

Over the last year, we’ve seen a 7x increase in the availability of Adobe AIR apps in mobile marketplaces, including the Apple AppStore, with no signs of slowing down. With AIR, game developers and publishers can deliver their apps across 6 platforms on more than 500 million smartphones and tablets with stunning graphics and intricate gameplay. Creating amazingly detailed games like Machinarium, which claimed the spot as the #1 iPad app in 12 countries last year, is becoming easier than ever.

Just as Machinarium first debuted as a desktop game, publishers and developers today are looking to easily take their games and deliver them to app stores on a host of mobile devices across the globe. With the availability of AIR 3.2, we’re excited to help users push the envelope of mobile game development with new hardware accelerated 2D and 3D graphics rendering (Stage 3D) to enable significant performance gains in mobile gaming apps. Hardware accelerated 2D and 3D graphics will help ring in a new class of social and casual games running at 60 frames per second on mobile devices and tablets. Developers can download a release candidate of AIR 3.2 today and start packaging up apps for delivery to mobile marketplaces immediately, with general availability of AIR 3.2 and Flash Player 11.2 in March.

Hardware accelerated 2D and 3D support, released in Flash Player 11 last year, spurred a new class of features for existing games, including Rovio’s Angry Birds for Facebook, now available with special power up features and enhanced graphics. The global gaming community has shown great adoption of this new technology, boasting a host of titles from Renren, Gamegoo and Disney, and we anticipate that many existing PC games will be ported to mobile using AIR 3.2 in the coming months. Falanxia’s Spaced Away as well as Pamakids Tech’s Winter on Whale Island will be some of the first. Also, we recently learned that the top 9 Flash based games in China generate more than $70 million per month! Now that shows rapid adoption.

All of these innovative developments (with more to come soon!) demonstrate our focus on creating value for our gaming customers. By delivering new features to advance gameplay, increase fun and provide added support for productized features within the runtimes, gaming at Adobe will continue to grow by leaps and bounds. The future has never looked brighter.

Check out some of the great new features that are available with Flash Player 11.2 and AIR 3.2.

Flash Player 11.2

AIR 3.2

Read why our partners are excited about 2D and 3D hardware acceleration with AIR 3.2:

“Earlier this month, Rovio launched the first ever version of Angry Birds for Facebook to huge fanfare using Adobe 2D accelerated graphics,” said Andrew Stalbow, GM of Rovio North America. “Building a game that runs smoothly at 60 frames per second with five times more particles in our explosions and special effects is critical for delivering the most brilliant gaming experiences to our customers. We’re excited to see how Stage 3D accelerated graphics with Adobe AIR 3.2 will take these features to mobile devices and hopefully we can take advantage of this capability down the road.”

“We are thrilled to be the first mobile gaming company to take advantage of the AIR 3.2 release candidate to deliver AIR versions of our social games to our users,” said Masaki Fujimoto, CTO, GREE, Inc. “Flash Player and AIR help us push the limit of what can be created across the web and delivered as standalone apps on mobile devices. As we expand into global markets, Adobe technology is helping us take advantage of our market leadership in Japan to build success around the world.”

“As Flash based game developers, we are excited to use AIR 3.2 to make our visually appealing games stand out even more with the tools we already know,” said Jakub Svoboda, Game Producer, Falanxia. “Adobe helps us to bring our award winning games, like Spaced Away, to more iOS gamers than ever before. Good job Adobe!”

Flare3D Studio is leveraging the enhanced features in AIR 3.2 to create a very powerful Stage 3D IDE,” said Adrian Simonovich, CEO, Flare3D. “Adobe AIR has been, and will continue to be, a very important and powerful tool to bring hardware accelerated 3D support for mobile devices and allow Flare3D’s developers to create amazing 3D accelerated experiences and reach a much larger audience.”

“Since investing in AIR, we no longer have to worry about weighing different platforms and developer tools to reach our audience,” said Yifei Xu, CEO, Pamakids Tech. “AIR is the tool we rely on to avoid the clutter and just laser focus on what really matters – delivering the best games and apps to kids and parents.”

“We have chosen to develop with Flash because it is widely used, does not require installations, and games can be played instantly by simply clicking on a link,” said Filip Kuna, CEO, CUKETA. “Thanks to Adobe AIR, we were able to port our game, Age of Defenders, to different devices including Android tablets and iPad2 which allows us to appeal to a wider range of customers at a minimal cost.”

“NVIDIA’s been working closely with Adobe to bring increasing amounts of GPU acceleration to several generations of Flash Player and AIR,” said Neil Trevett, Vice President, Mobile Content at NVIDIA. “Now, Stage 3D in Flash Player 11.2 and AIR 3.2 can fully exploit the power of GPU acceleration to enable rich, real-time 3D games and content that is portable across multiple desktop and mobile platforms. NVIDIA is committed to ensuring that Stage 3D continues to be highly optimized for multi-core Tegra-based mobile devices.”

 

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 24×7 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.

 

Put Down the Joystick and Pick Up the Popcorn: Join Adobe for Indie Game: The Movie

As someone who is passionate about film and enjoys games, I’m delighted to announce that Adobe is working with the producers of Indie Game: The Movie, Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky, to bring screenings of this award winning film to a city near you! We’ve scheduled seven dates so far in the U.S and Canada and are adding more every week, including Seattle, WA on March 23, and Portland, OR on March 28.

Indie Game: The Movie is a feature-length documentary, and follows the compelling, personal stories of independent video game designers as they create and release their unique and very individual works to the world. Coming off their recent win for Best Editing in World Documentary Cinema at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, Lisanne and James are thrilled to finally share this film with so many audiences, and are excited that Adobe is helping take the film to indie game developers and fans on such a large scale. Community support for this movie has been outstanding, and part of the funding was secured through Kickstarter, where the producers raised their initial funding goal in just 48 hours.

The first public screening will be held at the Rio in Santa Cruz, CA on Friday, March 2 at 7pm. For those of you attending GDC, the second and third screenings will be held at the Embarcadero in San Francisco, CA, on Tuesday, March 6th at 7pm and 9:30pm.

At each venue, members of the Adobe Gaming Solutions team will be on hand to give out prizes and talk one on one. Additionally, Indie Game: The Movie’s filmmakers will hold a panel to discuss the film and answer questions from attendees at each screening. Edmund McMillen, who was featured in the documentary will be a special guest at the Santa Cruz, CA screening, and will join the panel. Edmund is a Flash game developer and co-CEO of Team Meat that produced the successful Super Meat Boy game for Xbox 360, Windows PC, Mac OS X and Linux. Super Meat Boy has sold more than one million copies to date.

Like Edmund McMillen, game developers working with Adobe technology can reach 98 percent of Internet connected PCs and up to 500 million tablets and phones with their creations. Adobe will be demonstrating some great Flash based games at GDC March 5-9 in San Francisco, both for mobile and desktop. In the meantime, learn more about Adobe & Gaming at http://www.adobe.com/solutions/gaming.html, grab your tickets for a great show, and keep your eyes open for more news coming soon!

 

 

Rovio Chooses Flash Player 11 with Support for 3D Graphics

Today, Rovio launched Angry Birds for Facebook using Flash Player 11 with support for 3D graphics. The most social version of Angry Birds yet takes advantage of hardware accelerated graphics in Flash Player to bring a silky smooth gaming experience to a wider audience than ever before. More than 130 million people play Angry Birds every day – now with Flash Player, hundreds of millions of Facebook users can do the same. New, enhanced special effects like lighting, smoke and explosions running smoothly at 60 frames per second bring the game to a whole new level and allow players to have a more connected and engaging experience. As we showed you at Adobe MAX in the fall, Rovio’s general manager of North America, Andrew Stalbow provided a sneak peek of this new hardware accelerated version of Angry Birds built on Flash Player 11:

Angry Birds on Facebook game makes it even more exciting to play with friends, offering amazing new power-ups like Sling Scope, Birdquake, King Sling and Super Seed to extend players’ gratifying arsenals. And with new accelerated graphics, the feathery antics have never been more fun to more people. For more information about how to power-up your games using Flash and AIR, please visit the Adobe Gaming Solutions site.