Ad-supported downloads coming in Q1 2020, Penthera exec says

Penthera’s technology can edit out and put in fresh ads rather than having to replace the entire file. (Unsplash)

Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu and others have made downloads a table-stakes feature for subscription streaming services. But ad-supported downloads have yet to arrive.

Dan Taitz, president chief operating officer at Penthera, said the wait is almost over. He said that ad-supported downloads will debut in the U.S. (if not first in an international market) in the first quarter of 2020. He couldn’t elaborate on which company or service would first launch the feature but he did say that Penthera is pretty far along with testing the feature with a major broadcaster and a pure-play AVOD player.

Penthera—a mobile video software company that’s worked with CBS, Fox, HBO, Showtime, Starz and others—said it’s addressed all the technical hurdles for implementing ad-supported downloads. At this point, Penthera can also integrate with the three major ad servers: FreeWheel, Google and SpotX. But Taitz said that integrating between the streaming video app and the ad server—along with factors like marketing, programming decisions and content rights—has extended the timeline for deploying an AVOD downloads feature.

RELATED: Hulu now supports downloads for Android devices

Taitz said the challenges associated with the feature are no different than measuring streaming advertisements. There needs to be a system for decisioning, measuring and reporting impressions. But once users download the ads, they reside on a device so they can’t be decisioned when the video starts. So, there needs to be a mechanism for time stamping the ads when they’re downloaded.

Penthera’s technology can edit out and put in fresh ads rather than having to replace the entire file. Taitz said that since the ads are small files, it means a device and app can ping the ad server and get fresh ads within seconds or minutes.

For consumers, he said there’s only a minor difference in file size when getting ad-supported content. Taitz said if someone is downloading a 45-minute video with ads versus one without, there might be a 5% to 10% increase in file size. He also said Penthera’s customers can allow downloads on either Wi-Fi or cellular, but that it’s typically only a few minutes of ads so it won’t use a significant amount of data regardless of the network.