New Video SSP From AppNexus Is Lapping Up LiveRail Customers

newwaveAppNexus has completed beta tests of a new supply-side platform and ad server designed solely for video and will release it widely in Q2.

The company has already signed up 15 publisher clients in the US and Europe in the wake of a beta test that began in late 2015. The SSP is one piece of AppNexus’ Video Publisher Suite, which will echo its display ad offering.

There is a strong sense of urgency to get the thing in market.

As AdExchanger reported in January, AppNexus views the decision by Facebook to sunset LiveRail’s ad server as an opportunity to win business that might otherwise travel to Google. (Facebook has since launched new video ad-serving capabilities, but with a focus on the buy side.)

Eric Hoffert, SVP of video technology for AppNexus, said, “I’ve spoken to more than 50 publishers as we’ve expanded our video-buying effort and what we’ve heard from them is they’re seeking a vendor independent of media property.”

Hoffert said AppNexus was selected by one publisher that previously used LiveRail and another who was considering Google’s DFP (DoubleClick For Publishers), though he declined to identify the new customers.

AppNexus was chosen over DFP in this instance because that publisher had said Google didn’t provide support for outstream video, combined with video-hosting or ad-serving capabilities, as well as access to open exchange buys in a single solution, Hoffert claimed. 

“Even at these early stages of development, we can provide competitive alternatives to some of the largest providers in the marketplace,” he said. “Our sights are much more set on those entities rather than [publisher video offerings from] PubMatic or Rubicon Project, which is a partner of ours.”

Unique to AppNexus’ SSP will be support for both in-stream (pre-, mid-, and post-roll video ad inventory) and outstream video formats (expandable in-article formats that play when the user initiates and stops when they scroll away) for desktop and mobile web.

And in the same way AppNexus’ mobile SDK provides support for iOS and Android apps, it’s adding VAST support for video interstitials, so app publishers can bring new VAST-compliant demand to their mobile apps. The company says a big focus is to support more mobile video.

AppNexus’ video SSP supports four transaction models, including open RTB, mediation, private deals and managed campaigns.

But even despite the sales opportunity created by LiveRail’s withdrawal from ad serving, AppNexus has its work cut out.

Video inventory is scarce as is and many premium deals are transacted through private marketplaces or direct orders. A lot of publishers already work with video SSP incumbents like SpotX, Yahoo’s BrightRoll or AOL.

On the television side, many media companies have relationships with broadcast-grade ad servers like Comcast’s FreeWheel. And large connected TV publishers like Hulu run private marketplaces on Facebook’s LiveRail and audience and data discovery through Oracle’s DMP.

Hoffert said rooting out invalid video impressions will be a strong focus of its own, given the rate of in-banner and questionable quality of supply plaguing video players in the open exchange, and that the company’s clean-up efforts around invalid display impressions will carry over to video.

“There’s a high level of commitment from AppNexus to move invalid traffic and inventory out of the ecosystem,” he said. “In addition, we see resulting supply compression encouraging an onboarding of more quality publishers. No one knows who the next YouTube is. AppNexus wants to be a part of their ascendancy before they become a large, standalone media property.”

AppNexus also sees untapped opportunity in streamlining the video experience to lighten the video latency pipeline and publishers’ growing tag inundation.

It’s all too common for users to be hit with breaks in video playback or buffering midstream. (It’s a problem that can be mitigated somewhat by server-side ad stitching, as AdExchanger has reported.)

“It’s a software problem,” Hoffert said. “We need better collaboration from partners, competitors and even industry bodies like the IAB.”

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1 Comment

  1. Great to see AppNexus getting into video, they’ve got a great engineering team so will make a solid product. It’ll need to be more than a me-too product though to get traction from premium publishers.