In the U.S., the number of web-enabled devices now exceeds the number of people. And consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to view videos. The proliferation of screens offers an incredible opportunity for content publishers, but not everyone is keeping up with the new realities of advertising and the mobile web.
Many publishers currently target audiences accessing content on PCs, which is not a new phenomenon. Content is primarily delivered to PCs via Flash, and there are mature solutions available to facilitate the processes involved. Delivering content to non-Flash devices -- including smartphones, tablets, and consumer electronics devices like smart TVs, game consoles, and set-top boxes, can pose more of a challenge, and publishers who find the right solution to keep up with changing technology will enjoy a distinct advantage.
Challenges of delivering content on tablets, smartphones, and consumer electronics
With tablets, publishers must accommodate HTML5 and its limitations when Flash is not an option. There are also quality issues related to 3G versus Wi-Fi delivery that require adaptive bitrate technology solutions. This can complicate workflows when preparing video for tablet delivery.
Smartphones pose special challenges since the category comprises a range of devices, networks, and operating systems that also complicate the video delivery workflow. Potential obstacles include native playback control triggers and an inability to deliver ads or track analytics. Apps can partially bridge the gap (70 percent of viewing still takes place via the mobile web), but they are expensive to create and complex to maintain, and the performance quality may vary significantly.
With consumer electronics like gaming consoles and smart TVs, content publishers face other challenges, such as the lack of common standards for content decoding and streaming. They have limited ability to deploy software due to manufacturer concerns.
In addition to these specific challenges related to web-enabled devices, there are other challenges that must be met across all device types. These include finding an efficient way to monetize content via ad insertion, managing workflow, and gaining insight into ad effectiveness via analytics.
Current solutions content publishers use to meet these challenges
Many content publishers rely on HTML5 to deliver video, but because of differing capabilities between devices, HTML5 excludes delivery of rich media on some mobile phones. Not only are apps expensive to build and maintain, but they are also not available on all devices, so reliance on apps alone means publishers reach only part of the potential audience.
Another workaround, the use of real-time transcode, leads to loss of CDN efficiency, uses expensive CPU resources, and does not enable dynamic ad targeting. Some publishers use offline transcode, but managing revisions is complex, and this method does not allow publishers to place unique ads.
The need for a simple solution
An ideal solution would simplify workflows by enabling delivery to virtually all devices on any platform by uploading a single file and delivering content via one URL. Such a solution would enable real-time turnaround for new ads and easily integrate with existing ad operations infrastructures, workflow, OVP, and CMS. It would offer feed-based or API integration as well as XML POST-back messaging support. This ideal solution would enable publishers to upload a single file and deliver content on one URL, which would significantly reduce file management complexity and storage requirements.
A single-URL solution could also enable dynamic ad insertion, allowing pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ad placement to maximize monetization. It could also enable content publishers to target ads by user, device, content type, and geography to enable delivery of relevant ads that accelerate traffic and boost sales.
On-the-fly video transformation capabilities could allow publishers to drill down for more precise device and user targeting and optimize the viewing experience. A solution that integrates with existing technologies, such as VAST 1.0 and 2.0, could also ensure compliance and be extended to handle proprietary formats as well without incurring additional overhead.
Solving the complexity of content delivery
By taking advantage of new technology that allows a single upload for one URL that enables live or video-on-demand content delivery, publishers can reach virtually any device: Such a solution exists today. With its game-changing simplicity, it eliminates the inherent time and infrastructure costs associated with serving and monetizing content everywhere. A single URL solution solves the complexity of delivering content across multiple devices and platforms.
The solution enables publishers to monetize their entire video library, allowing them to deploy a huge amount of new inventory without dealing with complex coding issues specific to various device types. A simple solution that integrates with existing ad operations infrastructures, this groundbreaking technology enables publishers to gain incredible insights into ad effectiveness and deliver rich, relevant messaging to viewers.
Publishers who use this solution to deliver a personalized, television-like viewing experience on devices such as iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Roku, Boxee, TiVo, Windows Mobile, Xbox, and smart TVs with a single URL are at the forefront of the mobile video revolution. The ability to dynamically insert targeted ads anywhere in the stream, from the cloud, with no SDK or plug-in, creates content monetization opportunities that can finally allow publishers to leverage video libraries for maximum benefit.
Bill Rinehart is founder, chairman, and CEO of Unicorn Media Inc.
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