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Techcrunch Reporting Innovation from 2005 – Blip.TV Finally Gets With Video Ad Insertion October 28, 2008

Posted by John in social media.
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I love Blip.tv, but the latest Techcrunch post should be titled – Blip.tv catches up with the rest of the pack in video insertion.

This isn’t innovation but a necessity for Blip.tv who has been behind the curve in innovation on the adverstising side. This is a me-too announcement. One thing that is true about the story is that iTunes throws off tons of traffic. ITunes and podcasts are mainstream – call it portable media or downloadable media (whatever) – it’s big numbers. Blip.tv isn’t the only solution and it is far from the best.

This isn’t a big story because others have this technology like Castfire, Wizzard.TV, and Volomedia. In fact Volomedia has the most advanced solution in that it can insert and track ads from when you’re not connected. For that most sought after and most advanced solution it does require a plug-in.

Blip.tv isn’t really doing anything new here but it does give them a needed revenue stream. Blip.tv has done a great job in hosting videos for the “long tail” sector of online video of independent video bloggers. Now they can make money for their long tail providers.

What is interesting is that you have companies, like Volomedia, Wizzard, and now Blip, who can provide reach for advertisers.

Metrics: Lets hope the metrics can be there. That is the biggest challenge from Blip is the metrics. The ad insertion is trivial.

I will ask around to get a feel for the reaction among Blip content creators and update this post…

Update: Peter Kafka was looking for the Cypus video of Mike Hudack (it was taken down) but I found this version and remix that was no doubt posted on Techcrunch using Blip.tv – remixed to music by Internet star, comedian, and celebrity Loren Feldman of 1938media.com. He changed the music to Highway to Hell – very fitting.

Update: NewTeeVee has a story and clarifies that the solution only works on the computer version of iTunes. There is no portable or mobile metric. That makes sense now.

Update: In the comments below a virtual discussion is going on between me and Mike Hudack who is being very transparent (like they always have been in the past – kudos to Mike).  I would like to turn this into a ‘virual panel discussion’ on the topic because of the quality of the comments.  I will ping Volomedia and Kiptronic to respond.

Downloadable media or portable media is a very small group of companies so maybe we could get some collaboration and information – we need metrics because it’s clear that the market for downloadable media, podcasts, portable media is mainstream (no one debates that just look at iTunes and overall web video performance lately).  We do need to get a solution that works for users and advertisers so that the funding for more content can be realized.  Thanks Mike for commenting.

Comments»

1. Mike Hudack - October 28, 2008

Hey John,

Thanks for the post. You’re quite right that ad insertion in QuickTime is trivial. We’ve been doing that for years. Not quite since 2005 — more like since 2006. What we announced today wasn’t insertion, it was measurement. And not just measurement — third-party measurement.

We’re now using DoubleClick to track impressions *at the point they’re served* and thereby meeting the IAB’s broadband video advertising standards, unlike the other players in the industry.

Incidentally, we’ve been inserting ads (with third-party measurement!) in Flash-based videos for many years now.

Give me a ring if you’d like to learn more about what we’re doing. I’m at 646-417-4702.

Yours,

Mike Hudack
Co-founder & CEO, blip.tv

2. John Furrier - October 28, 2008

Mike,
thanks for commenting. are you turning on ads for all your videos or just select groups?

what kind of metrics are you reporting? Views, clicks, and plays?

do you guys do dynamic insertion?

3. Mike Hudack - October 28, 2008

Hey John,

Absolutely. Any show on blip can opt into advertising from their Dashboard (http://blip.tv/prefs/). Shows that opt in receive a blend of ads from our direct sales force plus various ad networks (Google, ScanScout, YuMe, Adap.TV, VideoEgg, et cetera) for views in Flash. We have some daisy chaining and yield optimization technology that chooses the highest paying ad for any individual play.

In QuickTime we’re limited to ads that we sell and ads that our content creators sell. This is because none of the ad networks that we work with can serve into QT right now. So shows that opt in will receive some ads in their QuickTime views, but we’re not yet filling 100% of the inventory. Any of our 37,000 show creators can sell into their QuickTime inventory, though, and we’ll traffic their ads for them.

In Flash we’re reporting video views, advertisement impressions, advertisement clicks and engagement. The engagement is shown on a timeline — it shows how many people viewed each second of video. This is particularly useful for brand integration and product placement (we can see exactly how many people saw the brand integration or product placement and how many times).

In QuickTime we’re reporting video downloads, advertisement impressions and advertisement clicks.

In both Flash and QuickTime the metrics come from third parties (DoubleClick for ad impressions and clicks, Illumenix for engagement).

I think that the most important thing here is that, with both QuickTime and Flash, we’re measuring impressions according to the IAB standard — the client requests the ad, and the impression is recorded only at that time. We need no software on the client to do this. Just regular iTunes or regular QuickTime. There’s no need to download anything, and the viewer doesn’t have to be incented to allow measurement to take place — it just works.

Yours,

Mike

4. John Furrier - October 28, 2008

Mike thanks for replying this is great content and thanks for basically agreeing to do an asynchronous interview Q&A here on my blog.

A few questions:
1. An you sent me a pointer or particular publisher video playing in iTunes that you can measure

2. Can you measure while iTunes is in a disconnected state? If not, then is this just streaming iTunes, and who watches video this way? Perhaps you means QT player and not iTunes?

3. Can you deal with .m4v and .mp4 files?

4. you mentioned above “we’re measuring impressions according to the IAB standard — the client requests the ad, and the impression is recorded only at that time.” – are you saying that you record an ad impression even it they don’t watch it if it sits in the library of the users itunes. I’m asking to be specific between requested download, partial download, fully download, and actually watched

Look forward to hearing from you

5. Mike Hudack - October 29, 2008

Hey John,

Thanks for following up.

You can find links to particular campaigns running in iTunes on the NewTeeVee story that you already linked to. Both are verified using DART.

We’ve found that between 50 and 75% (I know it’s a wide delta, it varies from show to show) of iTunes views happen in iTunes while connected. Apparently *lots* of people watch video this way. For what it’s worth, I do too. I subscribe to podcasts in iTunes and then watch them fullscreen on both my laptop at home and on my Mac desktop in the office. I find it to be a generally better experience for watching shows I like, rather than happening upon embeds on the Web.

Our implementation is also compatible with the standalone QuickTime player and with any software that uses the QuickTime player software (Democracy Player for example).

In terms of what file formats we work with, we deliver the videos and advertisements in a QuickTime container that’s fully compatible with the entire range of Apple portable devices and with the AppleTV. We have about 37,000 active shows using blip today (they release about three new episodes a month — each) and so as you can imagine we have to deal with a very wide variety of incoming video formats. Before we deliver videos we’re trafficking against to iTunes we transcode them to the universally compatible QuickTime format and then modify the container to insert the pointers to DART.

In terms of recording impressions, I’m actually saying exactly the opposite. Current iTunes advertising implementations (Kiptronic, Volomedia unless you download their iTunes plugins) record impressions as soon as the video is downloaded. This is a flawed practice because not everyone who downloads the video watches it (at least not while the campaign’s running and the ad is still relevant!), and not everyone who “views” a video actually sees all the ads. What we do is measure an impression *only when the ad is actually viewed*. This is what the IAB standards require. As far as we know no other implementation that doesn’t require a download by the viewer (and I’d be curious to know what the install base is for these measurement plug-ins is) does this — none of them comply with the IAB standards, and as a result they (unfortunately) overcount impressions.

It’s important to note, again, that for the purposes of advertisements we’re *not* counting downloads. And certainly not partial downloads. We do record those metrics, but for content creators, not to give to advertisers to measure the success of their campaigns. We are counting *impressions* – people actually seeing the advertisement. I can’t stress this enough.

Yours,

Mike Hudack
Co-founder & CEO, blip.tv

6. Mike Hudack - October 29, 2008

Hey John,

I just did a blog post over at the blip blog on this subject. Your questions were really good, so I excerpted our impromptu Q&A for the post (hope you don’t mind).

I’ll continue to check this thread to continue the conversation, or feel free to continue the conversation on our blog. Either way, I’m happy that we’re having this in-depth conversation!

Yours,

Mike

7. Announcing DoubleClick verified advertising in iTunes at the blip.tv blog - October 29, 2008

[…] questions about this announcement. John Furrier (the former CEO of PodTech) did too. He wrote up a blog post on the subject. He seemed a little confused about what exactly we were announcing and why it was […]

8. John Furrier - October 29, 2008

Mike,
I don’t mind at all on the link. I’d clarify by saying that I’m not confused only trying to get the facts on what you guys are saying. You really didn’t do an announcement but instead a leak at the beet.tv event – which is cool with me. Love Andy Plesser’s site

I’ve been vetting out this area recently and want to know who can deliver the metrics. Thanks for clearing up your new approach with Doubleclick. If anything advertisers are confused. Thanks for the clarification. I’d love to hear more about your plans post financing – congrats.

I want to ping the other guys to see what they say. Especially Volomedia who I’ve been bullish on and put their logo on my site here.

Dynamic insertion and accuracy is the winning formula.

here is the official press release

http://money.aol.com/news/articles/qp/pr/_a/bliptv-announces-ad-serving-for/rfid153165839

9. Mike Hudack - October 29, 2008

Hey John,

I’d love to have another conversation with Volomedia about what they’re doing, and I’m sure that since they sponsor your blog you could help make that happen.

We took a look at both Volomedia and Kiptronic before deciding to build our own solution here, because we didn’t feel that either of them really met our needs or advertiser’s needs.

That said, we don’t consider this kind of technology to be core to our business. If someone else comes up with a better mousetrap we’ll use it. If Kiptronic introduces this kind of capability and it’s easy to integrate and has some benefit over ours, we’ll slip it right into our system. We’re not religious about this stuff.

Yours,

Mike

10. Mike Hudack - October 29, 2008

One last note, sorry! You say that “dynamic insertion plus accuracy is the winning formula.”

I’m not sure that’s entirely right. I think that dynamic insertion plus third-party measurement is the winning formula. Accuracy is very important, but it’s meaningless without third party verification.

11. John Furrier - October 29, 2008

Hi Mike,
I think that by leveraging 3rd party capabilities that’s a good thing for you guys. Having the reach that you’ve built is valuable in aggregate and should yield some monetization. One area that no one has nailed yet is valuing the smaller publisher’s effective reach or value.

Accuracy to me is about reporting and we are on the same page there it’s the metrics of performance.

I’d love to chat more about metrics. I’ve been spending a ton of time over the past 1.5 years on researching and developing a metric for valuation capabilities. As we both know some of the smaller publishers in terms of audience size have huge value being undermined by the extremely low cpms. Also the larger publishers have even bigger reach that is not valued.

Any effort that drives a metric for valuing content producers efforts in a meaningful way gets my interest. As well any effort that can validate and advertisers spend (effort) to show performance is of great interest.

Glad to continue this conversation. I sent an email to the Volomedia guys to see about their view. I hope to get to Jonathan at Kiptronic but I don’t have his email anymore.

12. Mike Hudack - October 29, 2008

Hey John,

It should be said that we’ve had an active monetization program with a 50/50 split going for quite some time now. We’ve been sending checks to niche content creators.

This is a new area — long-tail video advertising in general — but we’ve been making significant inroads. It’s not like we’re starting from zero, today. All we’ve announced is that we’ve added QuickTime inventory to the inventory we’ve been selling for quite some time now.

It should also be said that niche publishers tend to get higher CPMs than broad audience publishers. I believe that in the display world it’s something like a 10:1 ratio (I could be wrong about that). There’s no reason why video should be any different.

Ultimately the strength of blip in advertising is that we can aggregate thousands of niche content creators into valuable channels that we can then sell to advertisers. We can bring both niche and scale, which is a very powerful combination.

Yours,

Mikef

13. John Furrier - October 29, 2008

Thanks Mike. I am very familar with you guys as you know but my audience might not know that. I will say that you and Dina have successfully built a business from zero stage and successfully served (with high satisfaction) the video content publishers over the past few years. I will also highlight that you guys have built a really strong platform for video. The results speak for themselves and it is important to point out for folks not in the sector.

With very little capital you’ve established a platform that content producers like and has a good user experience. Brightcove which is heavily funded is within your sights…

http://siteanalytics.compete.com/blip.tv+brightcove.com/?metric=uv

14. Murgesh Navar - October 29, 2008

John/Mike – Thanks for getting into a dialog on a subject matter very close to our hearts. We have been pushing for the most precise metrics in downloads since the inception of our company – and metrics have been a key aspect of our technology differentiation. Some thoughts from a VoloMedia perspective.

1. We implemented prototypes of Quicktime container with sprites for interactivity along with trackback in mid 2007, but did not roll out as a product since it does not work with offline/portable media. Many of us who travel on long flights (or drive while listening to podcasts) understand the joys of taking our media with us – various industry analysts have observed 50% to 70% of consumption happen in a portable/disconnected setting. This is consistent with our experiences. A .mov container trackback would not be useful since all metrics are lost. In terms of VoloMedia metrics, all metrics are cached by the plug-in even while in a disconnected/portable state, metrics include download requests, distribution of partial downloads, completed downloads, elements of video plays, portable plays and interactive consumer engagement within iTunes video. We are able to capture a broad set of metrics, never losing any data. I recall discussing Quicktime trackbacks with Mike during a ADM lunch at the Portable media conference in 2007. Ofcourse, we would also love to talk to Blip again about metrics we can deliver – the broadest set of metrics that advertisers would care about, including offline and portable data. I agree that the plug-in is not universally embedded within every shipping iTunes – but we are seeing fast adoption by consumers. Many of our major media customers are beginning to wrap the plug-in as a requirement to receive their content. You can check out http://www.foxnews.com/podcasts for one example (click on the “Download Podcast” button, preferably on a video feed like Fox News Flash). The interesting thing about the plug-in data is that it provides valuable insight into media consumption even prior to hitting a critical mass of adoption. We are able to see how a statistically significant set of consumers are actually interacting with the content and with the ads. This is useful data to publishers and advertisers, more useful than the download metrics by themselves.

2. The VoloMedia plug-in is built to beacon back to third-party ad measurement systems. While we are not quite ready to announce specifics yet, we clearly see the benefits of precise metrics, open standards and third party systems integration. I welcome all initiatives that makes the download medium more measurable. This helps everyone in the industry, especially in weak economic times.

3. There are a other key gaps with download/offline/potable media: 1) dynamic ad insertion – meaning you can change an advertisement after a download 2) limited consumer interactivity – most metrics conversation centers invariably around the needs of the publishers and advertisers. We feel consumer should be able to engage their download media just as they do any other web media, being able to quickly share or bookmark episodes and 3) fragmentation and measurability – iPhones, Android, iPod, TV set-top boxes, iTunes, Microsoft Zune, Adobe Media player, Sony PSP all do/will support RSS based subscription of h.264 video format downloads, but it becomes increasingly complicated to uniformly measure, and therefore monetize across such a disparate ecosystem. The .mov container is a proprietary Apple only technology. We are pushing the boundaries to address these critical gaps with a media player plug-in technology, the plug-in product has a longer roadmap ahead of it, even beyond the current Apple ecosystem.

15. Mike Hudack - October 29, 2008

Thanks John! I really appreciate the kind words.

I should mention that we’re not trying to compete directly with Brightcove. We think that they have an excellent product for big media companies like Dow Jones and the New York Times. We’re concentrating on providing value for independent content creators.

Yours,

Mike

16. John Furrier - October 29, 2008

Mike I was referring to the success of the platform not the target audience that you guys target.

Murgesh: can you be specific on the metrics and ad insertion on that is measured for the advertiser – that is what I’m interested in. Engagement and real impression is when the media is played not when it’s automatically downloaded in my library.

Thanks

17. Mike Hudack - October 29, 2008

Hey Murgesh,

Are you capable of providing third-party impression numbers without the plugin?

Either way, I’d be interested in chatting about ways we can work together in an ad network relationship – even if we don’t use you guys for serving our direct sold inventory. If you have significant ads available for podcasts we’d love to work together to increase our QT fill rate. You can drop me an e-mail at MIKE at BLIP dot TEEVEE if you want to chat more about that. I’d love to partner with you guys if it would increase revenue for our content creators.

Yours,

Mike

18. Murgesh Navar - October 29, 2008

John: In terms of metrics, we are able to measure actual number if each specific ad play. This is as granular as you can get with ad metrics. If a publisher opens up a mid-roll ad slot, say at 5’30” into the content, the plug-in find the most relevant current ad campaign and insert a creative in that slot. If a consumer watches the show 3 times but happens to watch the creative only twice – the ad impression count would be 2, not 3, as reflected in the ad reports.

Mike – Let us connect and chat about the 10 specific verticals we are currently selling. Third party integration/validation is an important aspect of our system design.

-murgesh

19. Mike Hudack - October 29, 2008

Murgesh,

Thanks for your e-mail. I’m looking forward to connecting! Any opportunity to get more revenue for content creators is one I’m excited about.

Yours,

Mike


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