Bringing online buying practices to OTT isn’t as simple as plugging in a buying platform and revving it up.
If a display ad doesn’t load or an online video buffers on a browser, it’s annoying. If an ad on the big glass doesn’t show properly, it breaks the user experience.
NBCU knows these quality control issues could undermine its recently launched streaming service, Peacock. To contend with the challenge, the broadcaster said Monday that it’s devised a solution with TV ad tech company Innovid that will help ensure a smooth user experience for its streamers.
When Peacock first launched, it was forced to reject about 40% of the creative it got from advertisers because so many of the tags were faulty. Accepting creative with bad tags disrupts the viewer experience with black screens or jittering or pixelated ads.
“What Innovid has done is created new ad tech quality control infrastructure that has gotten the acceptance rate up to 95%,” said Ryan McConville, NBCU’s EVP of ad platforms.
Innovid accomplished this by building a system that lets ad buyers know what’s wrong with their creative as far upstream as possible. If ads don’t break mid-campaign, not only does that save the user experience, it also avoids disrupting an ad campaign, which would cause publishers to lose revenue.
Innovid’s system tells advertisers specifically what’s not allowed, said the company’s CTO and co-founder Tal Chalozin. “It goes beyond video quality, to the level of what data providers are allowed in that system, who can run pixels and who cannot [and] whether any elements are not allowed on Peacock,” he said. “There are many layers beyond just the quality of the ad.”
This need for this level of specificity is largely why there hasn’t been a turnkey quality control solution that all OTT content owners can use. Innovid, for example, can assume what should or shouldn’t be allowed in a broadcaster's system, but needs to work closely with its clients to define the actual parameters and to troubleshoot each rule.
The partnership between NBCU and Innovid also underscores how incremental progress in OTT advertising truly is. NBCU has worked to solve one challenge in the OTT supply chain – and there are still many others to go.
McConville wouldn’t comment on Peacock’s specific road map but did say that moving quality control to a more real-time, automated environment is the next frontier for the industry in general.
“The whole supply chain, and how the videos are created, packaged and moved into ad servers, is clunky and broken,” McConville said. “There should be an ad tech call to arms to automate it.”
Added Chalozin: “We’re trying to improve different pieces in the supply chain. There’s workflow and programmatic – and the other part is how do you add personalization. Facebook and YouTube can do that amazingly well, but how do you do the same thing at scale while maintaining the quality and speed of television?”
Also, Peacock said it now accepts VAST tags, a digital delivery protocol for video created by the IAB Tech Lab that allows video to be delivered and measured properly. It’s the method by which a publisher pulls creative from an ad server.
“Right now, we’re opening up to the industry standards as the way of delivering ads,” McConville said. “It’s open – but with extremely heavy quality control.”
Peacock supports VAST 2, with plans to support VAST 4.