Archive for December, 2016

The True Costs of “Free” HTML5 Video Players

What is the true cost of using a free HTML video player?

HTML5 is a front-end, cross-platform technology with a growing footprint across devices. Over half of the top 1 million websites use HTML5, according to BuiltWith. And, 66% of mobile developers use HTML5, according to VisionMobile. Plus, many consumer electronics manufacturers are including support for HTML5 in devices such as connected TVs and game consoles.

This makes HTML5 a useful technology for media and entertainment (M&E) companies that want to extend video content out to the largest number of consumers on the most possible devices.

The first step for any transition to HTML5 involves deciding which player technology to use. Can you use a free HTML5 video player? Or, do you require more robust, premium HTML5 player technology?

When making this decision, it helps to know some of the pitfalls of the free option. Here are eight of the most common pitfalls:

  1. More customization work — Browsers right now do not implement HTML5 in the same way. As a result, it takes custom work to get free HTML5 player technology working across all the different browser implementations. Adobe Primetime has already done this work for you. Its HTML5 player framework includes a smart heuristic engine that understands the capabilities of each browser and makes any adjustments needed to provide the same experience across devices. It can also fallback to leverage Flash if an HTML5 implementation can’t support the intended experience.
  2. Longer time to market — When using free HTML5 player technology, the customization work mentioned above will have to be done with every new device you want to reach that comes to market supporting HTML5. Developing and testing this work will slow your time to market. In contrast, reaching new devices with Adobe Primetime’s HTML5 player framework is fast and easy because the APIs are always the same. Developers work with familiar APIs and can apply an existing, automated testing framework. This speeds time to market for Adobe Primetime customers.
  3. Harder to protect content — Free HTML5 technology makes it difficult to do content protection in a uniform way across browsers because each browser supports content protection specifications like the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) specification to a varying degree of maturity. This introduces more custom work to get free HTML5 player technology to deliver protected content across devices. Adobe Primetime supports a multi-DRM solution, which can automatically deliver protected content with the best type of DRM protection for each device.
  4. Lack of monetization capabilities — Free player technology does not include ad insertion by default. Adobe Primetime includes ad insertion with its HTML5 player framework, which enables the seamless delivery of personalized pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ads into a TV-like experience.
  5. Less stable streaming — Wired and wireless networks aren’t as stable as internet users would like them to be. Connections can slow down and speed up. Free HTML5 player technology does not provide a way to optimally select the right bitrate for playback. When a viewer is on an unstable connection, the free technology may switch the bitrate up and down, again and again, until the connection stabilizes. Adobe Primetime avoids this by using an algorithm to stabilize the bitrate switching. This allows for a better user experience compared to when using free HTML5 player technology.
  6. Choppy fast forward and rewind — All too often, free HTML5 player technology provides a poor user experience for fast forwarding and rewinding video content. The viewer may see an image, then nothing, then another image, making it hard to find the right spot to return to playback. Adobe Primetime provides the opposite experience. It provides a fast forward and rewind experience that’s as smooth as the playback experience.
  7. Basic captioning — Free HTML5 player technology provides very basic captioning, which may not meet the closed caption regulations in the United States. Adobe Primetime meets all the regulations by using 608 over 708 and WebVTT caption formats that allow for robust closed captioning support across devices. Further details on this are available in Adobe Primetime’s “Introduction to Closed Captions” technical paper.
  8. Harder to integrate analytics and measurement — It takes custom work to get analytics and measurement working with free HTML5 player technology. In contrast, Adobe Primetime offers out-of-the-box integration with Adobe Analytics and leading measurement companies. The integration is quick, easy, and accurate.

Each of these pitfalls of free HTML5 player technology costs you time or money to solve. So, free isn’t really free after all. The better path is to move quickly with robust, premium HTML5 player technology, like Adobe Primetime’s HTML5 player framework. This will allow you to deploy engaging, measurable, HTML5 video experiences quickly across a large and growing number of browsers and devices. Rather than fighting against the pitfalls yourself, you can benefit from a solution that already solves for them.

Tis the Season: Marketers, Multiscreen & Monetization

This holiday season, as smart TVs, smartphones and streaming media devices fly off the shelves, it’s clear that consumers are watching their favorite TV shows where, when, and how they want. That’s a pretty nice development for TV fans. But this shift in viewing patterns offers advertisers the biggest gift of all.

As viewers transition from set top boxes to screens of all shapes and sizes, the ability to transact and measure multiscreen TV ad inventory is rapidly improving. For marketers, that means cross-platform TV campaigns are more likely to reach their intended audiences. In fact, Turner made a bold claim recently when it promised that, “by 2020 more than 50% of its inventory would be transacted against audience guarantees.”

By leveraging data and analytics, we can make advertising more relevant for a consumer and ultimately more effective and efficient for our agency and advertising partners,” said Dan Aversano, SVP of ad innovation and programmatic solutions for Turner.

The technology that enables this new frontier of addressable TV is evolving quickly. For example, Adobe Primetime provides a TV ad planning and yield optimization platform that monetizes multiscreen TV, which is described in the video below.

With this technology, when it comes to transacting, direct sales teams still hold the key to premium ad placements. This was true for traditional linear TV and will remain true in digital.

Underscoring this point, publishers of premium video content are working to enable private, direct, audience-based media sales that are enriched by data and viewer-level measurement. Stephano Kim, EVP Digital Strategy and Operations at Turner Broadcasting told AdExchanger, “It used to be that back in the day, your content used to be a proxy for your audience. If someone viewed your content, the content was deemed relevant to those people. But now that you have so many different modalities of how your content is consumed, it’s changed everything.”

As broadcasters begin to realize their vision for addressable media sales, advertisers will have unprecedented control over how they reach TV viewers across a vast array of devices and platforms. Let’s consider a few examples:

Improving multiscreen addressability

Advertisers are always looking to reach more consumers with targeted, personalized offers. Instead of using TV content as a proxy for viewers, audience-based buying provides an effective mechanism for marketers to reach their desired segments, via multiscreen campaigns. With the advent of new sell-side technologies, publishers can now leverage data to match individual viewers with specific ad slots across every screen. In turn, advertisers can match specific campaigns to these audiences and see their ad effectiveness double and even triple.

Buying audiences + content across multiple screens

Executing campaigns for specific audiences, during specific TV shows, may be the most effective way for advertisers to ensure their message resonates while viewers are immersed in their favorite shows. Historically, publishers have faced a unique set of challenges in making this hybrid inventory available. Today, however, media sellers have access to cross-platform tools to forecast ad inventory at the impression level for both audience and content criteria. This means that marketers looking to advertise to a particular audience segment, such as recent iPhone purchasers, who are watching a particular show, such as Empire, can do so without the risk of over- or under-selling.

In the past, inventory forecasting for such a scenario would yield an average accuracy of less than 50%. As a result, advertisers would achieve less reach than desired, and rely on negotiating “make goods” to recoup their investments. Now, publishers have access to features that help them recognize and forecast overlapping inventory, and marketers can expect a nearly 2X increase in on-target delivery.

Measuring with your preferred currency

Transacting with audience guarantees, as measured by Nielsen or Comscore, has surfaced a number of challenges with the growth of streaming. These challenges include:

  • Broad audience definitions. A 25–49 year old male represents a very broad set of behaviors and buying patterns.
  • Panel-based measurement. These small, representative samples are often at odds with buyers’ and sellers’ ability to measure at the impression level.
  • Data lag. Nielsen data is only available after a 48 hour delay, meaning campaigns delivered to the wrong audiences may not be remedied as quickly as desired.
Marketers are now able to buy and measure multiscreen TV inventory through an addressable, data-enriched approach. While the challenges outlined have historically limited the effectiveness of multiscreen measurement, advertisers are now able to measure campaigns like a digital video ad, applying Nielsen or comScore methodologies to their campaigns alongside a host of complementary, audience-based data sets.

Measurement flexibility is key. Turner SVP of Ad Innovation and Programmatic Solutions Dan Aversano said, “We all have to abandon this idea of a single currency. At Turner, we’ve put a stake in the ground that we are data-agnostic, meaning when we’re cutting specific audience deals, we use many different data sets: viewership, behavioral, attitudinal, psychographic and emotional data sets, and those get linked together.”

Of course, major media sellers remain focused on the user experience above all else. Joe Marchese, President, Advanced Advertising, Fox Networks Group says, “If we can move to a world where we can do guaranteed attention, fewer ads, interactive ads, immersive ads, we could raise the rate and we could move the conversation from a battle between content creators and marketers about lower, lower, lower rates and saying no it’s about guaranteeing proper human attention, the right audience, someone who’s actually in market for goods and services, and a great experience overall.”

Adobe Predicts Accelerated TVE Growth on 5th Anniversary of Primetime Authentication

This year, Adobe’s TV Everywhere solution celebrates its 5th anniversary, and we’re proud of everything we’ve worked with customers and partners to accomplish. Over the last five years, Adobe Primetime authentication has enabled 580 MVPDs to grant pay-TV customers online access to television and film content for 138 TV channels, across all the most popular connected devices. During that time, active TVE users have grown to represent over 20 percent of all pay-TV households. And, with plans underway to drive continued growth, TVE is poised to reach 70 percent of all pay-TV households by 2018.

Netflix serves as a valuable barometer for the success of TVE. The industry leader has proven that 47 million U.S. households will not only watch TV over the internet on a regular basis, but they will pay to do so. Because TV Everywhere comes included in pay-TV subscriptions, it’s realistic to believe that adoption will reach 70+ million pay-TV households through increased awareness and continued improvements to the user experience.

The Future of TV Everywhere
View the full infographic: Past, Present and Future of TVE

Over the next 2 years, the Adobe Primetime team will be working closely with customers and partners to help realize the enormous growth potential of TV Everywhere. Our initiative to reduce sign-in friction will be a critical component to this growth. Cumbersome sign-in requirements have been an impediment to consumer adoption of TV Everywhere since its inception. When consumers are frequently asked for a username and password, they often give up and go elsewhere. The following developments will help minimize this friction:

  1. Single sign-on from Apple devices
    Consumers need a way to navigate between hundreds of TV Everywhere properties without hitting a sign-in wall on each app and site. The authentication technology that allows for this is called single sign-on. Adobe Primetime has been working with Apple since June to bring single sign-on to Apple devices, available now to consumers. TV distributors including DirecTV and Dish have already enabled single sign-on for Apple TV, and viewers can access apps from Disney and FOX to NBC and Food Network.
  2. Universal single sign-on and home-based authentication
    CTAM, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, is working with the TV industry, including Comcast and Adobe, to support “a new, universal, scalable solution” for TV Everywhere that’s facilitated by home based authentication and single sign-on. These two authentication technologies work perfectly together because home based authentication allows consumers to bypass the sign-in wall entirely if they are viewing TV Everywhere content from home and then single sign-on ensures that the authenticated access applies across all TV Everywhere sites and apps.
  3. Relaxed authentication requirements through concurrency monitoring
    By 2018, we believe that 100% of TV Everywhere sites and apps will use concurrency monitoring to limit fraudulent viewing behavior. This technology gives pay-TV operators the confidence to relax sign in requirements by ensuring the enforcement of concurrency rules, across both owned properties and federated sites and apps. By extending this level of control to operators, programmers will benefit from the ability to offer a superior user experience, with less frequent log-ins required.

These advancements in authentication technology will make tuning into TV Everywhere as easy as tuning into TV.

View the full infographic: Past, Present and Future of TVE