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Dynamic Ad Insertion Demystified

A Dynamic Ad Insertion platform allows broadcasters, networks and content distributors to monetise their live channels across multi-platform devices.

Broadcasters are facing a connected world of increasing competition. Live television is the lifeblood of broadcasting, but online channels must be monetized through advertising that is sold specifically for online.

Legacy ad insertion solutions have been notorious for clunkiness, with mistiming and buffering being common symptoms hard to ignore. Legacy solutions cannot be applied to live TV channels because the timing of ad breaks has to be frame-precise. In order to carry live channels into the online world a new, user friendly approach is needed that allows broadcasters to take full advantage of programmatic opportunities, and it must be indistinguishable from over-the-air broadcast TV.

Yospace anticipated the need for server-side ad insertion in 2010. The first Yospace deployment was for VOD in 2011, and in 2012 Yospace was the first company in the world to demonstrate the technology with a broadcaster for live streaming, with ITV in the UK. The company has since gone from proof-of-concept to being live with national broadcasters across the globe, covering four continents. Today's customers include DIRECTV in the US, and Sky Media, ITV, BT Sport and Channel 4 in the UK.

Yospace is focused on stream manipulation. The company is committed to working with the broadcast workflow and being agnostic to all the major playout systems and programmatic advertising systems. Its solution gives broadcasters the freedom to easily make changes in their workflow as and when necessary. Most other dynamic ad insertion providers use it to gain traction for another product.

Server-side stitching

Server-side ad stitching is performed using cue points from the same broadcast automation systems that trigger ad breaks in linear TV. Yospace ensures the ad stitching for online is as frame-accurate and seamless as broadcast television, while also enabling full one-to-one addressability.

By stitching advertising on the server-side, Yospace vastly simplifies multi-platform reach. It means a single uninterrupted stream can be delivered to many platforms/devices without regular software updates. An uninterrupted stream is much more difficult for the player to detect when an ad call is being made, and that tends to be the trigger for many ad blockers to kick in.

By enabling monetization of live channels online, Yospace’s platform ensures the long-term sustainability of those channels. Monetization isn't the only difference. It’s also the fact that dynamic ad insertion (DAI) is applied in a manner that doesn't interrupt the TV-like experience for viewers. It is frame-accurate, seamless, and with more relevant advertising. It’s a huge improvement to anything TV stations have been able to broadcast before.

The DAI solution

DAI is a broadcast-grade solution rather than just setting up a pre-roll for a clip or spot ad. It requires a commitment from the broadcaster to implement the technology properly. Once deployed, the broadcaster has access to a wealth of new addressable advertising inventory that can be tightly targeted like never before on TV. Customers have reported to Yospace that view-through rates are up to an incredible 98%, validating the great value of DAI.

Yospace’s DAI platform allows addressable advertising into a broadcaster’s live channels online. While many stations aren’t ready for the full addressable capabilities at launch, most view the technology as a way of future-proofing their channels and as a platform to build out a long-term, targeted-data strategy.

Once the integrations have taken place for server-side dynamic ad insertion into live, the tools are in place to extend the functionality. It’s more than just ad insertion, it’s a full stream management facility. That leads to other benefits, such as user-friendly DAI into VOD content, and automated live to VOD, allowing catch-up content to be available within minutes of the end of a live program.

DAI plugs into all the key touchpoints of the broadcast workflow, so a lot of teams involved with traditional playout are now also involved in broadcasting the channels online. In that sense, Yospace’s platform complements what is already there.

DAI workflow

Where workload is reduced significantly is in app development. Because the ad stitching is occurring on the server side, a single stream can be delivered across multiple platforms. This saves app developers from being bogged down keeping up with software updates and multi-player support.

Typically, a stream is delivered straight from broadcast playout to a CDN. In a dynamic ad insertion scenario the video segments still go to the CDN, but the video playlist, or manifest, comes to Yospace. The Yospace platform detects SCTE-35 ad markers then manipulates the manifest to include new advertising. It manages each manifest/user session which allows it to deliver full one-to-one addressability.

DAI opportunities

Dynamic ad insertion for live streams opens up advertising opportunities that were not previously available, so in that sense it’s a completely new revenue opportunity for broadcasters. On top of that, the ability to make the advertising addressable means that the value of each ad spot is vastly higher than on any other medium.

It also future proofs operations and simplifies the streaming workflow in other areas such as advertising into VOD.

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