Underpinned by tech from its recent acquisition of digital ad-insertion platform Unicorn Media, the Brightcove Once cloud platform is designed to enable publishers and media companies to ease the playback of short-form broadcast content, coupled with dynamic ad insertion through Twitter Amplify.
Brightcove CTO AJ McGowan (formerly Unicorn Media’s CTO) spoke with AdExchanger about the integration process and Twitter tie-in.
AdExchanger: What is Once?
AJ MCGOWAN: Unicorn’s Once lets us create video content on the fly in the cloud. Brightcove had really created a best-in-class client-side software and I think they realized a client-side approach wasn’t going to get them all the way there in and of itself. At the same time, on the Unicorn side, even if you’re handling all of the heavy lifting in the cloud, you still need to have some really lightweight client software that’s available on the device to manage those interactive experiences.
How is the Unicorn Media integration going?
While Brightcove 1.0 was heading toward “How do we get to the cloud?” Unicorn 1.0 was heading toward “How do we get more out to the client?” so it was a great marriage in the sense the technologies were really complementary. When we talk about Brightcove 2.0, we’re talking about creating experiences that will be optimal for the device that they’re being delivered to from an end-user, monetization and personalization perspective. So even though the product will continue to be sold as a freestanding as well as integrated, the engineering work is definitely being shared across the board.
How does the Brightcove ecosystem work?
If you’re using [all Brightcove products] everything together, Zencoder is one of the lowest-level ways of dealing with files and file handling. A layer up from that would be Once, which is file conditioning and moving things like monetization into the cloud. And then you have the rich client-side technology, which provides the end-user, UX experience, provided by the Brightcove Smart Player.
Have you seen more media interest in Twitter-based campaigns?
Oh, massive interest. It’s a huge thing for our publishers today both in the traditional Once workflow as well as in the traditional Video Cloud workflow. … We both have a ton of media customers (such as The Weather Company) that are delivering into Amplify today and they’ve been wildly successful, which drove us to invest the effort engineering this sort of hybrid solution alongside the Twitter folks.
Brightcove has added direct support for Twitter Amplify and Twitter Video Cards. What does this entail?
Traditionally with Amplify, people have syndicated video players. It might be the Brightcove Smart Player or the YouTube player, etc. Twitter was essentially acting as the “wrapper” around this player, and while that works well, it can lead to issues where the player might not perform the same across every platform. Broadcasters [are asking], "How do you test for that? How do you make sure when it’s loading context in different environments that the user is having a great experience?"
As part of Amplify 2.0, while you need to support multiple players and still enable usage of the Brightcove Player all by itself, we will also be announcing a direct integration with Once, where Once will be providing the same sort of contextual metadata about what’s happening on the server side so that things like click-through and companion banners can be enabled. The monetization and all of those things happen in the cloud.
So essentially it’s normalizing the content for multi-platform playback and standardizing workflows. What happens on Twitter’s end?
It allows Twitter to build a very lightweight player … so a user can have an optimized experience where we’re delivering pre-, mid- and post-roll ads that will work on any platform Twitter is delivering to. By doing this integration with the Twitter Amplify platform, we’re also enabling those customers to get all of the benefits you would typically get from their own player in the Twitter environment.
You’ve also done some work to connect content developers with video ad-insertion capabilities on Google Chromecast.
We will be demoing an implementation of Once to the second screen using Chromecast at the National Association of Broadcasters show. We’re using industry-standard Video Ad Serving Template units to create a second-screen experience where the video ad is being stitched in with content and is being splayed up on the larger screen.
You’ll be able to click through and actually engage [on the computing device] as part of the click-through experience. It’s something that can be implemented today for a synchronized interactive ad experience on the second screen. As those experiences become possible now that we’re able to tie all this stuff together in the cloud, a really interesting use case comes through.
Can you give me a hypothetical example?
Maybe a national Ford ad is playing on the big screen but the ad that gets click-through is from your local Ford dealership. This has sort of been the holy grail of the second-screen market for a long time, and to my knowledge, this is the first time we’re putting that together using things that are completely off the shelf from an ad platform perspective where you don’t have to do separate buys. It’s all starting to come together.
What’s the key industry trend these days?
The industry as a whole is at an inflection point where we’re starting to see two important shifts. The first is a significant shift away from desktop onto mobile devices. [The second is] we see a number of customers go over the turning point, where more than 50% of video traffic now is going to mobile. I mean this as a combination of handset, tablets, set-top boxes, smart TVs to deliver more than half of their traffic to these alternate devices.
So we’re seeing this net effect where it’s not just moving from PC to mobile, but the aggregate is actually going up dramatically being fueled by this ability to access video anywhere.
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