This issue, I’m focusing on products from the world of advertising. Push Live is used to deliver live broadcasts to multiple destinations while providing customized branding for monetization on different platforms or in different regions. MediaMelon’s SmartSight for Ads delivers detailed analytics and QoE for ad-supported content. While both of these products respond to existing market needs, the last product—Ryff—sets out to create a whole new market altogether.
Push Live is a managed, templated service for delivering live streaming to multiple destinations simultaneously, creating customized output for each endpoint. “You can have different outputs with different distributions from different timelines,” says Nathan Zerafa, Push Live’s head of product. “It gives our clients the opportunity to potentially sell sponsorships and advertisements for different regions or platforms, especially for large music events.”
Push Live makes it easy to take a single live stream and deliver a customized stream to multiple endpoints.
Push Live works with concerts and sporting events and powered the 2020 Democratic National Convention’s live social channel streaming. It also works with companies like Microsoft, EA, and Warner Music to offer personalized, watermarked streams for press events.
Users can employ a scheduling feature, or they can schedule streams manually. “You can programmatically add in changes for different sources,” says Zerafa. Among the types of content that are supported are multiple camera feeds, bumpers, bugs, overlays, lower thirds, and archived content synced up with timestamps or pushed live on an ad-hoc basis. “[Events can] resell on … multiple guest ad slots, similar to the traditional television, but we’re bringing it into the global sphere in the online space, with different platforms and technologies,” says Zerafa.
A media player handles video assets that users pre-upload into the platform, and clipping tools allow users to clip in and clip out and then export sections to MPEG-4. Users can also add bookmarks into the timeline.
Push Live outputs to Real-Time Messaging Protocol, as well as platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and Periscope. It also includes application programming interface (API) input for social measurements like views, comments, and reactions to relay to producers for live feedback. While Push Live doesn’t output 4K, they just added 1080p output.
Recently, Mexican singer Alejandro Fernández delivered eight customized streams that were fed into a paywall player. The streams targeted Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, and North America. Each one featured different brandings, including sponsor AB InBev, which marketed different beers to different markets within those regions.
Sponsorship can be shown on lower thirds, bugs, or other types of overlays or graphics. There’s one preview window for checking content and a second window to monitor the live broadcast. Push Live runs on AWS, with ingest through AWS Elemental. “We host our own rendering engines on EC2 elastic cloud compute and services,” says Zerafa. “Each distribution has its own rendering engine.”
Audiences expect a custom experience, according to Zerafa, and Push Live is building its own player to allow for full audience targeting with localized chat and a Shopify connection to local currencies. Push Live does not publish its pricing.
MediaMelon’s SmartSight for Ads provides real-time video analytics for ad-supported viewing. Customers use this platform to ensure they are maximizing their revenue potential and have visibility into what viewers see. They can then take actions to improve viewer experience.
Most analytics services focus on video quality, but MediaMelon’s SmartSight for Ads gives insights into the ad experience.
“When you have ad-supported video, experience matters in a different way,” says Kumar Subramanian, CEO of MediaMelon. “The reason people come to our platform is to get visibility on experience and be able to be informed on what they should do to improve engagement.”
SmartSight for Ads is used by video and ad operations, as well as by marketing, product, and customer service teams. It can be accessed by dashboard or API, or it can push reporting out to a business intelligence tool to provide data for helping understand a root-cause analysis. Its product and marketing tools include the ability to determine what kind of content is licensed, what audiences to target, and why viewers drop off.
SmartSight for Ads can scan millions of concurrent streams and create real-time insights, as well as dive deep into a specific viewer session. “If a viewer calls and says last night there was a lot of buffering, the service rep can go to a specific session [and] a specific user, and we do it in a privacy-based way to see exactly what happened with that user,” says Subramanian. “This is very powerful to diagnose when you have problems and see exactly what causes [them].”
However, sometimes it’s good to know about problems without having to do anything. “If it’s only a handful of sessions [where there’s a problem], you may not be too concerned, but if something was a very popular thing and [the problem impacted] a hundred thousand viewers, then it’s a cause of concern,” says Subramanian.
Content-quality measurements include KPIs on average playtime, player errors, unique views, startup delay, buffering ratio, average bitrate, and start to failure (when content doesn’t play). Industrywide, startup delay tends to be 2.5–3 seconds, while buffering averages about 2%. The QoE part of the tool has been on the market for more than 2 years, while the ad analytics portion has been available for 6 months.
For advertising, MediaMelon can track ads that aren’t filled, the percentage of ads viewed, and if viewers drop off when there are too many ads or too many of the same ads. Other measurements are collected for fill rates, ad durations, wrong-sized pods, or specific ad-server delivery problems to show if each ad server is returning the required amount of ads. Streaming services can compare various ad servers to see if any particular service isn’t delivering ads or if an error is triggered by a specific VAST tag.
SmartSight for Ads supports all OTT platforms. The demonstration I saw was easy to understand and very straightforward. MediaMelon does not provide public pricing.
Ryff intends to disrupt advertising by delivering digital product placement opportunities within existing content. Its platform, Placer, creates these advertising inventory opportunities by using AI to find spots to digitally insert 3D images into original content. It could put a beverage, a box of cereal, or virtually any other consumer packaged good on, say, a kitchen table. “I can render a 3D model to make it look as though it were always in a scene,” says Ryff CEO Roy Taylor.
See the coffee, aluminum foil, and batteries? They’re not really on that cutting board. Ryff places brand integration images into video scenes seamlessly.
The result is personalized advertising inventory at scale, combining the power of cloud GPU rendering with 3D products viewers may have an affinity for. Ryff can offer personalization based on any number of attributes, such as regional or cultural differences.
Today, product placement is manual and offers little control to brands. “There’s a $20 billion product placement industry, which is growing 14% a year,” says Taylor. “We’re sensitive to the fact that I knock on your front door or come into your house, take your wonderful piece of art off the wall, and I draw on it and I ask you to rehang it,” he says.
This starts with finding where there is a placement opportunity. “We can ingest hours of content in minutes. For example, … Amazon probably has something like 70,000 hours of content on Prime Video,” says Taylor. “We could ingest and make all of that inventory available inside of eight weeks.”
According to Taylor, “[We] suggest to you as a content owner or the network that there are places in your content where we believe we could deliver some brands that would support the narrative.” In a sample TV show with 19 episodes, Ryff found a total of 1,297 seconds of additional brand integration opportunity. “We have an average of 28 seconds per episode, and those included 32 objects and 12 we called posters—any flat hanging image. It could be a television, a painting, a billboard,” says Taylor.
The main question I had when watching Ryff’s demonstration is how many products could be inserted without it being overwhelming. “The final decision is not ours, it’s the content owner or the network and the brands. Our recommendation is two per episode for TV or three for an hour-long film,” says Taylor.
The 3D product placement items are rendered to match the target frames within a piece of content, with all of the processing done on the client side, regardless of whether the viewer is using high-end or barely hanging on, end-of-life streaming devices.
“We did a program with a major alcohol brand, which we put into a number of films that aired over Christmas, with a major content provider studio that also has its own streaming platforms,” says Taylor. “After ingesting thousands and thousands of hours of content, we have not had any of our product insertions recognized even a single time by a consumer.”
Ryff’s road map includes making inventory available for programmatic buying. The company does not provide public pricing.