In a year end article I just wrote somewhere else, I talked about how 2014 was going to be the year where media and technology get together in order to push online video forward and make it easier to do business as in place video ads on premium content with a lean toward TV-like ad buying. Not a full week into the year and it's already begun as Brightcove, a video technology platform, has agreed to buy Unicorn media, a video advertising technology company.
A video distribution platform, one of the biggest and best, Brightcove, has already seen the future and they know that their customers need to monetize the content they are putting up on the platform more easily than they are now. The easiest way to do that is to have a video ad technology built right into the platform transforming it from a piece of the puzzle to a one-stop video distribution and monetization platform. Maybe not for their enterprise customers who are using the platform for internal communications, training, etc. But definitely for their media clients and their marketing clients. Plus, all the ads and all the content can be hosted on the same platform since the Unicorn purchase brings a variety of server-side ad insertion technology offerings.
What Brightcove Already Offers
Brightcove has things covered on the video technology side of things. They have storage, distribution, transcoding, management and delivery all down. That includes pre-recorded and live video content. They also have ties into the major social networks so that people can share, discuss and promote the video content their clients are distributing. There is a range of analytics as well so you know who sees your content, where, when and how much of it as well as if they interact, share or like it.
They have also got monetization of content via standard protocols like VAST, VPAID, etc through integrations with major video ad networks. But some of that depends on the device that the viewer is using.
What Unicorn Gives Brightcove
Unicorn is built on making a single piece of content available on any platform, anywhere and inserting ads into the stream on the server side, as opposed to requiring the client to support something other than the video stream. Additionally, they also offer things like geo-targeted ads to any device. Finally, they bring a client portfolio with some big names, like ESPN, NBC News and the Weather Channel.
The Unicorn Once technology means one URL for all devices with ads inserted anywhere in the video stream and targeted to specific markets or devices. Sounds sort of like tuning a television to a channel and getting content as well as ads tailored to your locale but instead of it just being on your TV it could be your smartphone, tablet, PC, game console, etc.
It also means that broadcasters have a single place to turn to online for video distribution to multiple platforms without hassle of transcoding, device recognition, client support for ad protocols, (no I'm not forgetting Vid.ly from Encoding.com) that can also monetize the content with ad insertion and a fine grain level of control over which ads show where and when in the content. It means media companies can start selling ad inventory much like TV stations do with local market targeting as well as larger regional or national level targeting as well. It also means they can target based on device and probably based on things like demographic, time of day, day of week, type of content and every other factor that online video can do which TV cannot.
You can expect to see more deals like this throughout 2014 as the online video industry tries to flatten itself into a more TV-like experience so that they can pull more TV-like ad dollars into it. The only two growing areas of online advertising right now are video and mobile. Seems to me like mobile video is the future and with such a diverse ecosystem of devices it's going to take technology companies like this to make is an easy to use system for those who are used to buying advertising like they did on TV.
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