Cross-screen viewing is now the primary method for consuming audiovisual content. Media companies are challenged with migrating traditional ad models to this new environment. Despite some negative views about online video advertising, we’re now seeing adtech solutions offering opportunities to improve the current deficient ad-insertion models. In most cases, these are non-contextualised pre and mid-rolls within predefined fixed positions. The opportunities offered by this new environment deliver better user experiences for audiences, and for advertisers, optimised monetisation through inventory efficiencies, new inventory, and higher ad prices.

To make this work, the constituents include the need for a strong adtech partnership, close collaboration between content, distribution and advertising teams, with detailed medium and long term business plans focusing on costs and returns.

1. Improved and standardised user experiences

1st step: Solve current user experience problems across all multiplatform online consumption:

  • Pre-roll and mid-roll insertions that interrupt content at relevant narrative moments: by using AI, publishers can identify the optimum points to insert ads, and automatically implement ad serving across live and on-demand streaming
  • Delays and buffering for loading ads: In addition to using and balancing efficient distribution networks with adaptive downloading, publishers can optimise advance ad requesting and ad serving latency timings
  • Inadequate views and sounds of underlying content and ads: To avoid this, it’s key to implement effective AI identification technologies, in order to join streaming analytics, supported with controls for real-time checking of streaming duplications and errors
  • Non-efficient (UX) cost vs. ad return. Thanks to improvements in leading formats (mid-roll, in video) intrusive formats such as home display in long-form video platforms can also be avoided (and translated to other more adequate digital properties)

2nd step: To adapt advertising user experience to each type of consumption, through dynamic online advertising slots specific for each device (mobile, tablet, connected TV). 

Thanks to data and analytics, we can identify optimum insertion points for each consumption pattern (not the same for all the devices, of course) and, also, adapt ad creatives and formats.

Finally, it’s possible to test ‘ad slots convergence’. As connected TV offers a growing user base, it’s relevant to approximate recurring digital advertising patterns to those of traditional TV i.e. deliver online ad insertions similar to traditional broadcast ad experiences. 

This approach not only brings improvements to UX but also in monetisation. For example, TV Everywhere apps from leading Spanish broadcasters to have market penetrations of 35-40%, in relation of lineal aerial TDT consumption, with ad inventory of approximately 12-15 pre and mid-rolls per content. 

This is in comparison with the lineal TDT standards of 12 minutes per hour, with series and programs two hours extended in some cases, allowing more than 50 or 60 spots per content. This potential (amplified slots), have high ad occupations in main long-form video players (more than 70% according to comScore Videometrix), and this could be an interesting path to be explored further.

This approach needs improvement to be implemented and tested for publishers to be sure about the balance (best UX allows more efficient ads) and the higher digital CPMs pricing, and be combined with other adtech improvements such as new formats and advanced data (see below).

2. New ad formats and workflows

Through AI applied for video and audio metadata, we can also track issues: 

For example, we can see in advance (live and on-demand) when and where selected items are going to appear in image and/or audio contents and, then, associate them with contextual dynamic interactive units: interactive ads, e-commerce links, information or advertising displays, hypermedia promotional contents, etc. 

Most of those are valuable formats as they aren’t intrusive, but bring better UX and higher CPMs due to improved conversion and performance rates.

Regarding new ad workflows, we recommend these improvements:

  • Replacing live ad slots with specific digital ad mid-rolls when streaming online, has proved an easy and profitable process. Combined with the aforementioned UX improvement technologies, these allow the creation of new ad inventory that, in some cases, could be sold as a plus.
  • Also, most of these interactive solutions are best suited to the original video workflows, rather than in the serving side of players and ad-servers.

These new formats and workflows also involve innovation in the operative planning, negotiation, pricing and post-evaluation of the sales processes and teams.

3. Data and analytics

All of these tech improvements (better UX, insertion optimisation, new ad inventory and formats, innovative workflow) have to be implemented with advanced data and metrics to reach monetisation targets. 

A global issue around European markets is the lack of standardisation and consensus. So for publishers to have relevant data and analytics is a must. For example, ComScore, the Spanish digital metrics operator, is currently working through a two-year program to implement improvements to its solutions, to deliver trusted online measurement. Alternative advanced data is valuable for digital publishers, as well as for brands and agencies.

One of the first steps is to extract audience data analytics, in order to know how users are consuming audio and video content, so to determine the best places and timings for ad insertions.

Of course, it’s critical that the post-consumption analysis for trends and audience curves shows how and when the ad slots are impacting the reach, and dynamically evolve the online advertising insertions and formats. For example, one of our findings in the first steps of long-form video platforms in Spain was how the audience was dropping with increasing pre and mid-rolls placements (20-25% after three positions; around 40% after four positions) and how these figures differed by content and device. 

Finally, there is the workaround audience socio-demographic profiles, to efficiently target ads and content, and to get relevant segmentations for agencies and brands. 

For example, 51% of the under 12 children in Spain is non-lineal, you can immediately see the importance of digital segmentation. Recently, another example for segmentation scope, Sky announced the success of its addressable campaigns (more than 14,000 involving more than 1,700 advertisers -74% new to TV or Sky Media- with a 70 % of return rate) that customised to about 700 segments. 

Of course, involved advanced technologies have to manage large volumes of data, and be able to work in real time, in order to optimise impact, CPMs and relevance for audiences.