Cynopsis: You’ve been at the ad insertion game for a long time. What are the key evolutions since 2012?
Chris Pizzurro: The most important evolution is the realization by advertisers, agencies and TV networks that nonlinear ad insertion, VOD, is not a fad, and is here to stay. For years there was denial that linear viewing was being challenged, then it was Nielsen’s fault in measurement that linear was down, and now everyone realizes consumer behavior has changed. It is fragmented, and we need to use that fragmentation to our advantage. Included in that evolution of thinking is that ad-supported VOD can offer an exceptional reach extension to advertisers, and with the help of diligent service assurance practices, can also offer a quality viewing experience for the consumer.
Cynopsis: There doesn’t exist today a broad industry standard for dynamic ad insertion. What are your thoughts on this?
CP: When Canoe launched its ad insertion product for cable set-top-box VOD in 2012, there were no VOD standards, just technical standards including SCTE-130 and VAST that Canoe based our architecture and product guides on. Just like Ford established that to build cars at scale you needed standards for a body, engine and tires, we established that to build VOD at scale you needed standards for ad opportunities, ad insertions and ad impressions. We thought the work we were doing might just lead the way for all VOD premium video platforms. Fast forward to 2019 and in one way or another, our unofficial standards that we operate Canoe Service Assurance under, are being utilized by many VOD platforms. And because they were adjusted in real-time over the years, they just simply work.
Cynopsis: What do advertisers need to keep in mind in such a crowded market for premium video?
CP: Although consumer premium video choices are now plentiful, the viewing experience can often be inconsistent. The same ad running too many times, choppy transitions in and out of an ad break, missing episodes in the guide and long buffering times all contribute to an inferior consumer experience. These unfortunately also create forecasting, planning and delivery challenges for advertisers, agencies and programmers.
Cynopsis: Where are the opportunities, where are the pitfalls and what conversations should be happening in advance of a service rollout?
CP: Over the past seven years, Canoe has helped our programmers create a more consistent consumer experience and a more manageable advertising business across our footprint of 36 million households. When choosing the platforms and devices on which to run a VOD ad campaign, we recommend that people should ask: Does the platform have mechanisms in place to deliver to the stated campaign impression goals, provide low ad frequency, have consistent ad transitions, show complete title catalogs, have low ad loads and reduced buffering delays?
Cynopsis: Programmers, AVOD included, increasingly are touting integrated ad content, sponsorships and other ways for brands to have a presence within their content without looking like an ad. What are your recommendations in these scenarios?
CP: Ad integration has been around for a long time. A main concern has always been, because these take time and money to make, can you make the investment have a high enough reach to make the ROI work? You may have had a premiere linear airing with an integration and ads for reach, then a few reruns for frequency, and your exposure was done. Now with VOD and dynamic ad insertion, you can integrate your brand into the content, then have fresh spots inserted into your episode on multiple VOD platforms for unique reach and frequency, and have it available for viewing for months and months. The programmer can set their VOD ad server to do this. Here is where an advertiser can make fragmentation work for them by using the changing consumer viewer patterns and ad technology to their advantage.