A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM CANOE VENTURES
Ad Tech Company Expands DAI, Linear Addressability, Programmatic VOD
Cathy Applefeld Olson
The opportunities for programmers and advertisers to optimize today’s robust video ecosystem are vast.
But so, too, are the challenges that accompany a fragmented marketplace fraught with incompatible backend infrastructure. Simply put, stakeholders want a system that works, and works consistently, without having to navigate a tangle of technology disparities.
Canoe—the ad tech joint venture of Charter, Comcast and Cox—delivers a turnkey product suite that also comprises tools to report, adapt and evolve campaigns. As eyeballs have migrated to different viewing experiences, in recent years, the company expanded its VOD DAI business by adding programmatic VOD and streaming, calling it all Core DAI. In addition, they more recently added VOD and linear addressable capabilities to the mix.“
This is new territory with both VOD and linear. The footprints and individual end points are so complicated, and the nuances between them means there’s not a common protocol and common technology across the systems,” says David Porter, GM of Canoe’s Addressable business. “At Canoe we often call ourselves the simplification layer. What we do is give the programmer a unified, seamless system where they can create one order and run it across all those end points. We make it feel like it’s a single campaign, but really what we’re doing is dozens and sometimes multiple dozens of interactions with each of the MVPDs.”
The expansion of its business model is accelerating Canoe’s ability to onboard additional MVPDs and programmers—thus far it has commercial deals with AMC Networks, Fox Corporation, TelevisaUnivision, WarnerMedia and Discovery (the latter two will soon be integrated under Warner Bros. Discovery)—and is also accelerating its conversations in the US and in international markets.
“Streaming is global,” says Mark Shepard, GM for Canoe’s Core Dynamic Ad Serving (DAI) business. “So everything we’re doing in streaming plays really easily outside the US and that’s where the folks from Latin America and Canada are falling quickly in line with all the offerings Canoe has put together. Those conversations have really gained traction.”
DAI For All
Canoe has been incorporating dynamic ad insertion into standard set-top boxes for the better part of a decade, and this past year it stepped up the offering to comprise all IP devices in the home, from consumer electronics products to apps.“
Eyeballs move over time, and we’ve evolved with them,” says Shepard. “What we’re now calling Core DAI is reflective of the fact that this isn’t just traditional QAM-based set-top boxes anymore but also now consumer-owned IP devices.”
While linear is starting primarily as an addressable-only play, “I think most people would agree linear will move toward 100 percent dynamic ad insertion,” he notes. “Some of those insertions will be addressable but some won’t be. So you’ll have dynamic ad insertion and DAI addressable all baked into what’s happening on the linear side.”
And while activating on set-top boxes and IP-based devices brings to light some differences, including variations with potentially timing out and regarding the delivery of a campaign’s creative assets, Canoe’s service assurance and enablement across all distribution paths are consistent. “We have to make sure that all of the bits connect and that we have all the transactional data available to our Operations team here so we can ensure we have revenue optimization capabilities across every one of these platforms,” Shepard says.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM CANOE VENTURES
Addressing The Linear Market
Canoe’s programming partners today are all running VOD addressable campaigns across its 34 million addressable household universe. “That’s a mature product, a scaled product, and it’s delivering a lot of value back to our programmers and our advertisers,” says Porter. “Our programming partners have advertisers that are returning month after month after month, and we’re very pleased to see that repeat business.”
To boot, attribution reporting via partners including 605 and Data Plus Math, which Canoe facilitates for its clients, backs its promise of delivery with regard to metrics like website visits, offline purchases and elevated brand perception. “We’ve got evidence now that it works, another proof point we can hand to advertisers and say, Your ROI is worth it and addressable is working,” Porter says.
The next big evolution is linear, and Canoe’s linear addressable product has been in the prototype phase for a year with a fully automated commercial solution slated to launch at the end of June for programmers. Through its test phase the company has identified three ways it can simplify linear addressable for programmers: technology, operational efficiencies and delivery of a uniform product.
On the tech side, Canoe has developed guidelines for how programmers can trigger their addressable avails in their stream such that every different MVPD can interpret it. “It’s a standard way of signaling, so they can do that one time and everybody, all the MVPDs will be able to react to that trigger,” Porter says.
Regarding operational efficiencies, Canoe has created workflows for managing campaigns across areas including audience segmentation, measurement surveys and creative assets. “If the programmer wants to target auto intenders, for example, we’ve developed a workflow where they can do that one time, send it through Canoe, and we get it distributed to all the MVPDs vs. having to do one time to Comcast, one time to Cox and another to Charter. Canoe facilitates getting that audience segment distributed out to all end points,” he says. “Same thing with unique creatives for different households. We’ve established a system where different creatives follow one workflow to use across all those end points.”
Canoe’s offer of a consistent product “really benefits the advertisers who want to run household addressable,” Porter says. “They’ll never be able to build their business and scale if they go to [Warner Bros. Discovery] and the product functions a certain way for frequency capping, reporting capabilities and implementation, and then they go over to AMC and it’s different. Canoe creates a uniform product so when someone like Volkswagen wants to run an addressable campaign they have the same experience. They can compare apples to apples and have full scale across the entire programming industry.”
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM CANOE VENTURES
Aside from expanding its platform, Canoe is also broadening its feature set. The company last year added programmatic to its VOD offerings to help television programmers drive sell-through on their systems.
“The advertiser demand on this platform is really robust,” notes Shepard. Heading into this summer across Canoe’s 38 million non-addressable VOD household universe, two-thirds of its largest programmers already are at least 90 percent sold out as measured against the ad loads they’ve defined. “They are absolutely crushing use of their inventory,” he says.
And Canoe is steering both quality and quantity control. “We’ve got robust frequency capping controls in place here, so this is a great viewer experience,” he says. “You’re not getting the same advertiser and the same creative again and again and again from promos to paid advertisements to the programmatic stuff that comes in around the edges.”
With so many programmers operating a streaming platform that’s either ad-supported today or will be tomorrow, Canoe’s greatest value proposition is not only providing the initial ad tech enablement but providing service assurance, 24/7, across its platform and simplifying a complex and disparate set of features across the MVPDs with which it works.“
We present it as unified and simplistic to the programmer, even though behind the scenes we have teams and development groups making that magic happen,” Shepard says. “That’s continued to be appreciated by our customers, and more so every year.”