Akamai, Adobe Primetime team for server-side dynamic ad insertion

LAS VEGAS--Multiscreen provider Adobe Primetime and content delivery network (CDN) provider Akamai are taking their OTT collaboration a step further with the introduction of a server-side dynamic ad insertion (DAI) offering. The providers say it will boost reliability and offer the ability to scale massively.

Turner Broadcasting and Red Bull Media House are previewing the product, which will go into beta during the second quarter of 2015 and is expected to launch in the third quarter.

Server-side ad insertion shifts DAI further down the ecosystem to the CDN, stitching ads into the content at the network level before delivering the entire stream to the viewer. The solution, Akamai said in a release, simplifies the ad insertion process, moves the burden of processing ads along with content away from the player, and improves reliability of the stream and ad delivery by reducing the chance that ad-blocking software will be triggered on a viewer's desktop. It also allows a "clearer view" of ad performance such as plays, engagement and video quality, and can match ad bitrates to the content being delivered to an array of different devices.

No word on whether it also folds laundry and performs minor surgery, but Akamai is pretty confident that the solution will deliver as promised. "We believe integrating Adobe's digital ad insertion capabilities onto the Akamai network introduces nearly infinite scale to deliver ads to broadcast-size viewing audiences on a vast range of devices, which can open up new opportunities to monetize content across screens," said Troy Snyder, VP of ecosystem/executive producer at Akamai, in the release.

The CDN provider started looking for new ways to boost monetization of content about a year ago, according to John Bishop, CTO of Akamai's media division.

"There were two solutions: client-side and server-side. …We said well, from our side the goal is always about reach. And server-side gives you the most reach," Bishop told FierceOnlineVideo at the NAB Show here. "And then we started deep diving into the architecture and said, we think it's probably time for a server-side ad insertion 2.0, and what would we change there? So we started looking out in the market, looked at who had a powerful presence there, and Adobe quickly bubbled up."

Combining Akamai's content delivery capabilities with Adobe's multiscreen management tools allows the solution to scale to tens of millions of viewers, according to Bishop. The solution can be implemented by existing Adobe Primetime customers without too much disruption to current production operations.

"First of all the workflow doesn't change. … The functional elements that (Red Bull & Turner) are used to working on in their core tech don't change," Bishop said. "The ABCs stay the same, it's just the way that they talk to each other. They don't have to be disruptive from a workflow perspective."

Adobe Primetime's manifest manager is part of the solution, and the provider handles DAI decisions as well. Further, Bishop noted, Adobe's service is agnostic; customers using a third-party ad decisioning system like Freewheel will be able to continue using it.

The solution really starts to bring in the benjamins when an audience scales upward, and with it, the ads.

"We start looking at when it starts to matter: when it starts getting over 100,000 viewers is we think when that resiliency is going to start to come out," Bishop said.

Whether server-side ad insertion is the solution to problems related to online video advertising, beyond meeting scale and reach requirements, remains to be seen. Brightcove and thePlatform, for example, are among the online video companies offering server-side insertion and hoping to make it a profitable service.

For more:
- see the release

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