“I am watching TV” has taken on a new meaning. TV, once synonymous with a device, is now synonymous with a type of content. As consumers, we love this. We can watch anywhere, anytime, on any device. Content owners should be equally as thrilled because this means increased consumption of their content, and additional opportunities for monetization. This brave new world, however, has brought its own set of challenges — especially when it comes to live streaming.
HDTV, which has become our accepted viewing standard, is often hard for the internet to handle. Even when we have high-speed internet, bandwidth variations can cause buffering, which disrupts our viewing experience. Content owners are aware of this and have solved this problem by adopting a solution called “HLS.” HLS stands for “HTTP Live-Streaming.” (It’s surprising that HLS is not a more widely known term. We all know that the ad tech industry loves acronyms, and yes, this is an acronym within an acronym.) HLS tests the strength of the internet in a viewer’s video player, and then serves a version of the content that will not crash the video player. If you’ve ever viewed content on a Connected TV, tablet, or computer and noticed that it seemed pixelated, but did not stop playing, this is HLS at work.
What happens when you introduce ads into this content? The ads create buffering, which can cause the viewer to abandon the content. This means everybody loses: advertisers, content owners, and most importantly viewers.
A major video streaming company wanted to leverage programmatic video to increase their monetization, but did not want ads to disrupt the viewing experience that they had worked so hard to perfect. They came to Tremor Video, and were fully transparent about their challenges with programmatic-specifically regarding live-streaming. We worked closely with this partner to develop an HLS Solution that worked similarly to the clients’ solution. How exactly does this work? This HLS solution seamlessly encodes the original video into multiple files and formats. When the ad stream plays, the video player selects the correct version of the file. This allows the video ad to adapt to the available bandwidth and network — creating a smooth ad-viewing experience for consumers.
Programmatic continues to suffer from old notions that it is bottom of the barrel, but in reality it is becoming more sophisticated, and making content owners, advertisers, and consumers lives better through the automation of buying and selling ads. Everyone in our industry should aim to deliver high-quality, consumer-relevant, content-appropriate ads. To work out the kinks in programmatic and the evolving TV landscape, content owners, advertisers, and tech companies will need to honestly discuss challenges, and work together to create the best viewer experience possible. When we keep viewers satisfied and engaged we increase viewing time, create more opportunities for monetization, and produce more effective ads.