Dynamic Ad Insertion
Advertising in the video industry is nothing new. Everyone who has been watching commercial TV broadcast and online video have experienced advertising, both in Video on Demand as well as in linear/live broadcast streams.
The area of addressable TV has gained a lot of interest in the past number of years. Addressable TV means that the broadcaster and the advertiser can target specific users and serve them different adverts. In a sense this is even easier in the OTT world, which essentially is internet-delivered video to mobile devices, smart TVs and other clients. With addressable TV, two users watching the exact same video at the same tame and on the exact same type of device may get different adverts. The advertising can be targeted to be more relevant to the user groups and hence increase the ad revenue.
Dynamic Ad Insertion
It is important that the overall user experience for the viewers is as good as possible. Many solutions for advertising of OTT videos rely on pausing the normal content, playing out the adverts, and then resume the playout of the content again. This is typically handled as client-side functionality. This is not seamless in any shape or form.
To improve the user experience, the method of Server-Side Dynamic Ad Insertion (SSAI) is a much better alternative. In this model, all the handling of the streams and adverts is handled in the backend systems rather than in the client. For the OTT clients, the video played out contains both content and adverts in a completely seamless way. As a matter of fact, the video player in client will not really be able to tell the difference.
Most current implementations of SSAI are based on manifest manipulation. The manifest for a stream is the instructions given to the player to download and play out the video. For normal streams, all users share the same physical manifest. When SSAI comes into the picture, all users will have their own unique manifests. For the normal content, the personalised manifest will point to the same video elements as all the other manifests, but when advertising comes in, they diverge and include video elements from different adverts.
An important consideration is that dynamic ad insertion with SSAI doesn't just affect advertising, it affects the entire stream delivery. Therefore the technology typically has implication across the entire broadcaster's organisation, from broadcast and streaming backends to client access points. Monitoring becomes even more important with this technology employed.
Rolling it out
In Realitech we have experience from integrating, testing and launching server-side dynamic ad insertion for several broadcast organisations. Most of these projects are heavily dependent on testing, and we even use the term Test-Driven Integration. We typically take an agile approach to this type of project, focusing on the quickest possible delivery of a service working in production.
Although we are an independent professional services organisation, we have a good relation with a number of key vendors in the OTT space.