BLOG: How do you replicate the seamless broadcast TV viewing experience on OTT devices?
By Tim Armstrong, General Manager – Advertising Technology, Switch Media
The growth in OTT video services has been huge over the past decade and will continue to grow considerably in the coming years. As viewers transition to OTT platforms, the options and flexibility for advertisers have grown exponentially. Broadband TV News recently reported highlights of a 2019 Digital TV Research survey that predicted the global OTT market (138 countries examined) will double in terms of revenue by 2024 to $159bn across a variety of possible revenue streams.
With advertising being such a lucrative revenue stream it’s important to get it right.
Some of the technology used to monetise video over the years has resulted in a less than ideal viewing experience, with disruptive transitions and buffering being some of the main issues.
The good news is that advances in ad insertion technology mean broadcasters and content owners can now provide a seamless OTT viewing experience; as well as addressable advertising options. This enables the delivery of a high-quality ad experience whilst elevating the advertiser‘s ROI.
So how is this achieved? The answer is through server-side ad insertion (SSAI). Using SSAI the video advertising creative is transcoded to match the quality of the content being consumed. Not only is it quality-matched, but the advertising is stitched into the video stream to support a seamless content-to-advertising transition. This delivers a seamless TV-like viewing experience and mitigates the efficacy of ad blockers. For advertisers and consumers, an added benefit of SSAI is that ad calls are supplemented by user, content and device-based data. This is accomplished prior to the ad break and allows for the targeting of individuals and households.
Before SSAI, many broadcasters used client–side ad insertion (CSAI) for their OTT services. This has been somewhat limited to VOD content except for pre and post rolls on live. Although previously an acceptable form of ad delivery, today’s users expect a much higher quality online viewing experience.
Client-side advertising also results in transitional issues caused by switching players between programme content and ads. Users are often exposed to buffering and black screens while waiting for an ad to play or when returning to the programme after an ad break. Viewers may also experience significant changes in volume when ads commence. What’s more, because the ads are called by the client, ad blockers can detect a call to an ad server and block it, meaning lost revenue opportunity for the content owner.
There are multiple benefits to using SSAI rather than CSAI, including the all-important increase in customer sentiment and a reduction in consumer churn. Revenue improves as SSAI is not susceptible to ad blockers and CPMs increase through the advanced targeting capabilities. Viewers also win with an increase in relevant advertising for them. This is achieved through the creation of individual sessions and personalisation for each unique playback, whether for on-demand or live content (more of this in a blog coming soon).
SSAI also normalises advertising content to align with the adaptive bitrate streaming profiles of the content being consumed. This results in matching picture quality as well as audio levels, therefore preventing those annoying volume variations.
Server-side ad insertion is clearly a significant improvement over the client-side experience; beneficial to content providers, advertisers and viewers alike.
A world-class SSAI option in the market right now is AdEase. Enabling multi-screen server-side ad insertion for both live and on-demand content, AdEase seamlessly stitches ads into content. This results in a continuous video stream that makes it near impossible for end–users to isolate and block ads. It also enables addressable personalised advertising across individual and household connected devices. These benefits not only maximise revenue but deliver a personalised and seamless advertising experience to viewers, with zero buffering.