By Chris Carey, Chief Strategy Officer, Verizon Digital Media Services
Now more than ever, mobile continues to be one of the biggest growth areas. In fact, U.S. consumers spent 5 hours a day on mobile devices last year alone, and that number is expected to rise. Consumers are turning to their phones more than ever to connect to everything from social media updates to accessing news and snapping photos — and, they’re also streaming their favorite television shows and video content on these small screens.
It has never been more imperative for broadcasters and OTT providers to focus on delivering mobile video success. Here are three key tips to help you get started with bringing an optimal viewing experience to the small screen.
Simplify delivery to mobile through workflows, formats and automation
For viewers, while starting to watch a stream may be as easy as opening an app, making a selection and then hitting play, we know that on the backend, delivering OTT content especially at scale can be quite an undertaking. There are countless intricate factors to consider: encoding, multiple bitrates, file conversion and storage, to name a few. Having an integrated solution stack for video workflows that connects the worlds of broadcast and OTT can help ensure a smooth transition for providers and a seamless experience for viewers.
Specifically at Verizon Digital Media Services, one way we work to simplify the OTT ecosystem — including the insertion, delivery, tracking and reporting of both content and ads — is by utilizing a single-video format across all devices. We even go further, ensuring playback on brand new devices. Any OTT publisher needing to reach additional mobile devices — whether that’s an Android or iPhone — won’t need to hire another team of developers.
Content-generation automation is another way to remove complexities from OTT delivery. Automated solutions for logging and monitoring OTT services can validate service level agreements with content delivery networks, confirm the presence of captioning and other metadata, and determine if specialized video player apps are providing optimal quality of experience.
Monetize through server side ad insertion
With several studies showing that viewers don’t mind online video ads — instead, they mind ads that aren’t relatable and take a long time to load — there’s an opportunity for broadcaster and OTT providers to incorporate an ad strategy that brings both revenue and user engagement. Viewers stay much more engaged with ads when they’re delivered in a non-invasive and personalized way on their devices.
We are a proponent of server-side ad insertion (SSAI), a technology that ensures targeted ads can be seamlessly stitched and delivered into content. SSAI requires no development effort, works across all platforms and is more scalable than traditional methods. And while other service providers may only offer SSAI, we pair SSAI with 1 to 1 session management to ensure every session has a different ad served to it, ultimately providing a more targeted, personalized viewing experience.
The SSAI approach can also help improve the quality of experience for viewers. Contrarily, having the ads inserted at the client is a breeding ground for playback delays that result in viewers watching the dreaded spinning wheel and possibly exiting the video. This delay can be caused by any number of problems, but the most prevalent is a poor or interrupted connection between ad server and client.
Focus on delivering quality
While there may have been a time when viewers would have patiently waited for content to load, even being understanding of blank slates and faulty playback, those days are now long gone. Today’s viewers want the same high-quality, seamless experience that traditional television provides – even on their mobile devices. A study we conducted showed that 86 percent of viewers say it is very or extremely important to experience TV-like quality everytime they watch, on every screen they use; just as telling, the average viewing session across all devices falls by 77 percent when there is a significant impairment of video quality.
It’s imperative that there’s a focus on delivering the best viewing experience possible on mobile. One of the most important ways to increase viewership is to increase quality; in fact, our study revealed that there’s an opportunity to increase engagement by 25 percent — just by ensuring a high-quality experience.
Moving forward, mobile must be top of mind for OTT providers and advertisers to reach more consumers in new and impactful ways. Follow these tips to start achieving mobile video success now.