Adobe Teams Up With Akamai To Tackle Video Ad Insertion Blips

Jeremy HelfandBuffering video isn’t a great experience, but what is its impact on ads?

Networks still face challenges when placing ads against over-the-top (OTT) content, which is one of the reasons why Adobe Primetime and content delivery network Akamai are partnering on a new tool to link Adobe’s ad-insertion technology directly to Akamai’s server-side plug-in, announced Tuesday.

Adobe Primetime saw OTT viewership increase 350% YoY increase in 2014. There were 2.7 million live streams of opening day Major League Baseball games alone. This volume supports findings that TV Everywhere viewership is starting to surpass linear viewing, said Jeremy Helfand, VP of video solutions for Adobe.

“When you think about some of the early advertising experiences consumers had, they’d see five pre-rolls before they even got to the content,” Helfand said. “If you were trying to load multiple players onto a device, they wouldn’t always talk to one another, which is why you’d see that little buffering symbol where the screen would just break. And who likes that?” 

Helfand argued that traditional network infrastructure simply wasn’t suited to the needs of modern ad loads. While broadcasters traditionally used ad servers that wrote code at the client level for each individual platform (iOS and Roku, for instance), server-side integrations expedite the process and enable multiplatform ad insertion.

These new integrations force broadcasters to retool their infrastructures.

“Initially, we saw everyone focus on the delivery component, and now we’re seeing this nascent OTT advertising experience start to improve, and address creative and the resiliency of the experience,” Helfand said. “Ultimately, we will look at what is the right balance of ads and content, and how do we do things like competitive separation.”

Turner Broadcasting is using Adobe and Akamai’s joint server-side technology to ensure its live TV app CNNGo is wired for breaking news events and can weather surges in viewership.

Additionally, CNNGo can more easily support the ad experience when new devices like Apple TV or Chromecast come on the market, by reducing development overhead for engineers who would otherwise be writing code for each individual platform.

“We hit this tipping point where people were expecting so much more from the viewing experience, and we needed to hit a benchmark in terms of what we’re able to deliver online in quality of experience,” said John Bishop, CEO of Akamai’s business solutions group. “The way the data flows now is smarter routing than what we’ve done in the past.”

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