The advent of OTT services has been the answer to all the consumer's prayers who wanted to watch any content, anytime, anyplace and on any device of their choice. This has led to a major surge in the OTT services adoption rates (much to the dismay of satellite broadcast industry). There is no denying the fact that OTT is the new normal and is here to stay for quite some time now. So, what makes OTT irresistible for the millennials and where does dynamic ad insertion find its place in there?
Well, that is because OTT is also the perfect example of the fact that content is king. From a consumer point of view, it is perfectly convenient, immersive and customizable according to their needs in terms of content and advertising. As OTT services evolve, the need for setting up a mechanism for monetization and personalization also becomes evident. Therefore, developers and broadcasters are looking up to Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) to generate revenue from the gamut of devices that are being used to view the OTT content.
The OTT delivery technology is supported by several standards such as HAS (HTTP Adaptive Streaming), HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) and MPEG DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) which enable the client to have scalable delivery of media content from conventional HTTP servers. In fact, HAS is a popular mode of delivering content for both linear and on-demand OTT video streaming. The content adapts well to fluctuations in bandwidth to render the optimum experience possible with the available output and screen dimensions. These evolving standards also help make way for HD video to be consumed anywhere in the world using a compatible device.
Ad insertion has been a regular feature in the video streaming area for quite some time now. Initially, the request for an ad was made on the client side and therefore the practice was christened client-side ad insertion or CSAI. However, with changing times and increased adoption of OTT services, server-side ad insertion or SSAI is trending nowadays.
Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) is a technology that is revolutionizing the way advertisers reach out to the customers. The fresh, relevant, demographically targeted ads are inserted dynamically from the server itself on all platforms (viz. desktop, Android, iOS, AppleTV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV etc.) Therefore, rather than serving the same ad to each customer, dynamic ad insertion makes it possible for advertisers to provide targeted ads that would be more apt from the customer’s perspective. One of the key features of the modern video ad server is transparent reporting. This gives the media owners valuable user insights to accordingly reach out to the user database with relevant ads. In this way, DAI helps target individual ads for live linear and video on demand programming. Irrespective of the original content format, once it becomes digital, Dynamic Ad Insertion can put together bespoke targeted video ads into the stream, based on the interest of consumer viewing the content.
When there were a plethora of devices in the market, the concept of “Ad stitching” came in. Due to the absence of client-side capabilities in those early devices, server-side ad insertion (SSAI) seemed like a good idea for ads monetization at that time. One of the major applications of server-side stitching which is beyond advertising is that it enables publishers to insert specific and targeted video content on-the-fly.
For instance, if viewers are waiting to watch a LIVE cricket match and the viewer does not have permissions to watch it or for that matter, the service provider does not have streaming rights but only broadcast rights, then they can stitch an alternate stream for the viewer on-the-go. This technology can also produce hyper-local ads by making use of the customer information such as GPS, postal code etc. available in the database. However, one distinct drawback of SSAI is that it prevents publishers from serving popular ad formats. Therefore, when an ad is stitched on the server side it also binding that the developers frequently implement client-side code by adding current AD technologies.
One of the major expectations from OTT Video delivery technology is that not only will it bring TV-like experience that is compatible with any screen but also improve ad experiences by seamlessly incorporating them with the relevant content sans any buffering. In case of OTT as well, ads are inserted just the way it is done in the traditional broadcast. The video workflow components read this input and turn it into an HLS/DASH compliant ad marker format. Thereafter the ad marker is read, and the player client relays the ad break and user metadata to a VAST-compliant ad decisioning network. The ad decisioning network sets up the replacement ad, which is then seamlessly inserted into the video stream which could be either from the server or the client side.
Consumers are increasingly making use of ad blockers for a hindrance free video viewing experience. To tackle this issue, content providers are looking for solutions that will help them personalize the ad. But obviously, poorly-targeted ads can be distracting and counterproductive, causing viewers to steer away from the content. They may also express their dissatisfaction towards the media owner (or the brand).
A lot of granular information that is now available (mainly because OTT services use a variety of data sources) will enable the broadcaster to dynamically insert ads that have been derived from the deep audience insights from video ad servers. With the use of interactive overlays, advertisers can also add tangible benefits to viewers by offering redeemable coupons etc. This will not only help target each viewer based on their preference but will also come along with an added incentive. It is believed that with such capabilities OTT service providers can further drive the revenue from ads by significantly improving improve customer experience.