Ad tech products, platforms and services are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, particularly as innovative approaches are required to drive up ad spending in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Anne Morris rounds up some recent launches. 

people watching tv

Audiences: Advertisers are keen to deliver targetted messages

Addressable advertising platforms 
1. Addressable ads typically promise greater engagement with viewers and healthier return for advertisers. One recently launched product in this area is Iris from video software provider Synamedia. The aim of Iris is to create addressable advertising opportunities for pay-TV and broadcasters as well as over-the-top (OTT) and hybrid service providers in order to create new revenue streams. Addressable ads focus on more personalised and targeted advertising, creating advertising propositions that reach specific TV audience segments. As described by Scott Kewley, vice president, advanced advertising and data, Synamedia, Iris seeks to “offer established and new advertisers an alternative to the increasingly wild west world of online advertising”. 

2. Media companies are also on a mission to improve their addressable advertising offer to marketeers in order to better target viewers. For example, Comcast-owned NBCUniversal recently unveiled One Platform, which combines existing and new tools for advertisers to plan, target, transact and measure campaigns across all its linear and digital platforms.

The global offer is being rolled out across both NBCUniversal and Sky content. One Platform includes access to Sky’s AdSmart suite of advertising products, which help advertisers target and optimise specific audiences. AdSmart also includes two new capabilities for Neilsen demographic-based buys: national TV campaigns optimised to reach a single demo across the company’s linear portfolio, and cross-platform campaigns optimised for unduplicated reach across the company’s linear, digital and OTT footprint. The new cross-platform optimiser makes use of technology and data science from ad tech partner 4C Insights. 

Scott Kewley, Synamedia

Scott Kewley, Synamedia

3. WPP’s media investment arm GroupM added Canada to the list of countries where it has launched Finecast, an addressable TV service enabling advertisers to target audiences in connected TV environments.

The service has already been launched in Australia and the UK, and its lofty aim is to optimise delivery across the entire addressable TV marketplace. The Finecast model is said to give advertisers the ability to deliver targeted ads to audiences across multiple TV channels, pay-TV platforms and set-top boxes, a range of video-on-demand (VoD) services, OTT providers, and game consoles. Jakob Nielsen, global CEO, Finecast, said that while linear TV viewership has been declining, “the audience is still there; they are just changing the way they consume content”. GroupM also formed data partnerships in Canada with companies including Environics Analytics, Mastercard, and a variety of third-party suppliers with “in-depth Canadian consumer expertise” to facilitate intelligent segmentation by socioeconomics, life-stage and financial behaviours. 

Audio advertising  
4. audioXchange is an online booking platform for the German audio advertising market and is due to become operational at the end of 2020. audioXchange is a joint project of German audio marketers AS&S Radio and RMS, and aims to automate and digitise the existing processes between marketers, customers and agencies. 

IT specialist Arvato Systems has been hired to help develop the system, and is responsible for developing the audioXchange backend and user interface design and providing hosting in the cloud. audioXchange will combine planning, purchasing and booking, offering advertisers and radio stations a complete booking system on a single platform. As an open platform, audioXchange is also being positioned as a marketplace and central communication channel for agencies, marketers and providers. 

5. Audio ad platform AdsWizz launched the Dynamic Creative Optimization product, which exploits the many data points available when an advertiser uses the AdsWizz platform, including location, time of day, weather, device type, (i.e. mobile, tablet, gaming, smart speakers), gender, age, behavioural segments, points of interest and music genres. Alexis van de Wyer, CEO of AdsWizz said the product “enables audio advertisers to deliver truly contextualised messages that speak to audiences in a way that is not only more personal and relevant, but also much more efficient for the advertiser to manage.” 

Content monetisation 
6. How to better monetise content is a question that keeps broadcasters awake at night, particularly as streaming services proliferate. Video streaming specialist Norigin Media has come up with a new tool that aims to allow pay-TV operators to explore new monetisation opportunities and offer different UI/UX experiences on their streaming services. The company’s AdScan tool is designed to detect and mark advertising breaks on catch-up TV content. AdScan identifies and tags ad breaks with proprietary cue points on VoD files. The marked ad breaks allow pay-TV operators to trim catch-up TV content more accurately, navigate or skip ad breaks on the player, and even replace adverts.  

Stuart Boorn, Mediakind

Stuart Boorn, Mediakind

7. MediaKind has also updated its advertising and content distribution rights portfolio for monetisation purposes and more. Prisma Core and Prisma Edge, new modular products within the Prisma portfolio, are designed to deliver tailored and full standards-based capabilities in support of advertising and alternate content insertion/replacement use cases across broadcast and IP networks. 

As described by Stuart Boorn, vice president, product management, MediaKind, operators and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) “must look for new methods of monetisation through targeted advertising. This requires the delivery of fully personalised and relevant services which fully comply with distribution rights and local regulations”.  

8. Streaming media player Roku unveiled its OneView Ad Platform that aims to help advertisers target the right kind of audience through more accurate TV audience data and consumer insights. The platform makes use of Roku’s TV identity data to allow marketers to plan, buy and measure ads across OTT, desktop and mobile data from one platform. Scott Rosenberg, senior vice president and general manager, platform business, Roku, explained that the goal is to “help advertisers and content partners invest for a world where all TV is streamed”.  

9. Video ad tech company Beachfront introduced a programmatic Pod Bidding product, which is designed to allow better management of connected TV (CTV) ad pods. Built on open source solution Prebid, it is designed to allow publishers to auction off all ads in a commercial break - pricing each spot separately - in a single auction. On average there are around four to six spots in a two-minute CTV advertising pod. The product is said to ultimately help publishers better manage their ad pods, optimise fragmented demand, and improve viewer experiences.  

10. The HbbTV Association released HbbTV-TA, which it flagged as the first open specification for targeted advertising for live broadcast TV. The specification, which was developed in collaboration with the DVB, enables broadcasters to provide specific audience groups with customised advertising during commercial breaks, at the point where the ‘normal’ advertisement on the TV channel’s conventional broadcast feed is replaced on a screen-by-screen basis with a specific targeted advertisement. 

Linear advertising revenues are under pressure owing to the shift of advertising spend to digital platforms. As a consequence, broadcasters are increasingly interested in developing platforms that allow them to better target viewers, and vendors are tapping into this demand. As a further recent example, Invidi Technologies and Tata Elxsi recently extended their relationship to bring addressable television capabilities to pay-TV operators in India, Asia-Pacific and MEA. Meanwhile, COVID-19 is also forcing a rethink over how the industry works, leading to growth in the use of cloud-based services. Certainly, cloud-led workflows have the potential to simplify advertising collaboration and workflow. However, Rowan De Pomerai, head of delivery and growth at business network the DPP, which has been working on bringing its work on the Interoperable Master Format (IMF) to bear on advertising workflows, noted that “true end-to-end cloud workflows are not yet commonplace”.