Enhancing Online Viewing Experience and Boosting Ad Revenue

AvatarJanuary 25, 2018

According to various estimates, internet users today attract an overwhelming number of advertisements (ads) as per their browsing behavior. Advertisements disrupt the users’ browsing experience by appearing on desktop and mobile devices in the form of pop-ups, banners, auto-play videos and full-screen images. Ad blocking tools have sprung up as a natural response for neutralizing them. Over 200 million users of such tools bear testimony to the fact that internet users dislike online ads.


Ad blockers are giving advertisers a run for their money by ensuring that ads never reach their intended audience. As a result, they have dented the revenues of online business entities that rely on them to sustain themselves. A 2016 estimate pegs global losses due to ad blockers at a whopping $40 billion.


Are Advertisers and Publishers Effectively Dealing with Ad Blockers?

Several websites block access to their content unless users deactivate ad blockers or pay to access content. It is an attempt to counter the revenue crunching effects of ad blockers.


Research shows that such measures are counter-productive. A huge chunk of internet users would rather stop visiting such sites than being arm-twisted into paying up or disabling these tools. Nonetheless, the majority of users are not averse to watching ads as long as they are not annoying. It sets a clear mandate for advertisers and publishers to serve ads that enrich users’ browsing experience.


Is There a Way to Enrich Users’ Viewing Experience?

Yes, advertisers and publishers can start by identifying non-performing ads. An ideal way of identifying non-performing ads is to map the browsing behavior of users with multiple ads. However, it is impossible to accomplish this task manually when you take browsing behavior of millions of users into account.


Our client who is a media conglomerate was facing a similar problem. One of their biggest advertisers wanted their ads to appear only in certain premium slots. Our client carried out a manual inspection and discovered that the advertiser’s ads appeared randomly in viewer streams. They were aware of the problem and had huge volumes of data at their disposal to affirm the veracity of the issue. In spite of this, they were unable to fix it. The reason behind this was the huge time and effort required for extracting insights from data rendered it un-actionable. They were in need of an automated solution to achieve efficiency and address the issue.


How Our Solution helps in Enhancing Viewing Experience

We wanted to make efficient use of the huge ad server data our client had at their disposal. We, therefore, built an automated BI mechanism that analyzes and reports ad server data in a meaningful way. Our solution addresses three major concerns –


1.      Repeated ads

When users see the same ad multiple times in quick succession, it leads to Ad Fatigue. Repeated ads become less effective as viewers learn to ignore them. Our solution helps in this regard by identifying ads that do not adhere to frequency limits set by ad publishers. Non-adherence with pre-set frequency limits indicates an issue with the ad server. Also, our solution helps account executives to serve advertisers better by highlighting ads pushed in the ad server without a frequency limit.


2.      Repeat ads of same industry category

Competitive ad separation is an essential requirement for online ad publishers. It dictates that two ads belonging to the same industry category should not appear during the same ad break. For instance, a McDonald’s ad should not immediately follow a KFC or Burger King ad during a viewer’s scheduled ad break. Our solution helps in avoiding such situations and helps publishers in drafting better ad media plans.


3.      Ad Load Latency

Ad Load Latency is the time it takes to load an ad at the start of an ad break or after a previous ad ends. While the latency is too small for most users to notice, it may become noticeable while rendering ads of heavier file size on networks with slow bandwidths. This issue has a significant impact on users’ viewing experience, and publishers strive to keep the latency as low as possible. Our solution tracks the latency of every ad with details about the resolution at which the rendering took place. It allows ad publishers to address the issue holistically.


The Impact of Our Solution

The following numbers give a statistical account of the impact made by our solution –


  • 99% Reduction in offending ad views: An offending ad view occurs when the same user views a particular ad multiple times in the same viewing session on a particular site under analysis. Offending views dropped by 99% as compared to earlier, e., before implementation of a fix to the ad server based on our solution
  • 85% improvement in problematic viewing sessions: A viewing session is a unique viewer’s single continuous viewing session. A problematic viewing session is one which has at least one offending Ad view as per the definition above
  • Saved millions of dollars: A fix to the ad server based on suggestions from this solution’s implementation has saved millions of dollars in lost ad revenues on a yearly basis

Our solution has helped in demonstrating to our customer that effortless exploratory analysis of their ad server data is possible. It has helped them in discovering ad view patterns and identifying areas of revenue leakage. Apart from saving millions of dollars for our client and enhancing their users’ viewing experience, our solution has armed them with insights to create a formidable media brand.


As our client’s understanding of the possibilities unearthed by the solution continues to grow, so does our capability to guide them through the advanced stages of business intelligence.

Near Real Time Ad Analytics powered by Big Data

AvatarMay 23, 2017

One of the key challenges for the advertising industry is ensuring that the right ad is shown to the right audience at the right time. Simple as it may sound, the secret sauce for achieving this involves complicated process of integration of ad servers, content delivery devices, targeting algorithms and data about demographics of the viewers. The task can be particularly daunting given the massive data sizes and the unstructured nature of ad viewership data. One of our customers – a leader in the multimedia video delivery industry was unable to provide granular details about ad views to the advertisers. The problem was complicated because of the sheer volume of data – with 100s of millions of views per day – was massive.


The Need for Granular Ad Campaign Details

One of the advertisers wanted the ads to be precisely positioned to ensure the effectiveness of the campaign. An ad was to be shown only on specific websites, forspecific shows, at specific time slots during the show and even in a specific order. Before InfoCepts deployed its solution, the monitoring and tracking of the ads was carried out manually in spreadsheets. The reports were high-level and couldn’t provide granular details such as exact impressions of the ad with specific timeslots. The unstructured nature of weblogs and massive data sizes,millions of rows per day, meant the spreadsheets had no chance of providing granular data.


Without solid data, the media company would have had to offer the advertiser a best guess on the number of wrong impressions i.e. ads that weren’t placed as per the specifications provided by the advertisers. For a company that values the quality of its data, the precision of its targeting, and a high-standard of excellence—it needed a solution which could not only track such wrong impressions but also highlight those wrong impressions. The solution to this problem involved quickly processing huge amounts of unstructured data and hence needed the power of Big Data analytics.


The Solution

An assortment of Big Data technologies were used in conjunction with MicroStrategy, a powerful reporting tool  to enable quick, easy and effective analysis of large volumes of data. The media company can now effortlessly monitor incorrectly placed ads through a dashboard. Moreover, they now track performance of each and every ad along the following parameters –


  • Number of Impressions
  • Section of the site where the ad appeared,
  • The video content during which the ad appeared
  • Details of series, episode, break number, type of break (such as before, after, or in between the show), and also
  • The ad sequence within these breaks.

Not only did these details allow the media company to supply the advertiser with specific insights on where, when, and how ads were served, it also allowed them to analyze viewer patterns for various types of ads.


The Value of Deep BI and Data Analytics

The success of the campaign encouraged other divisions in the media company to tap the in-house InfoCepts team for assistance in gleaning useful insights, empowering them to provide the customers a complete low down on effectiveness of ad campaigns and actionable insights which could be used to  tweak the ad strategy to maximize the ROI.


The media company now has an enterprise-grade ecosystem with a cluster of servers that comprises multiple best-in-class technologies. It provides the power to process large quantities of data rapidly and to gain critical insights:


  • It now has access to a dashboard that provides a 30-day rolling window, which will expand to show up to six months of data. The company can now view impressions by the day, month, or quarter. It can slice and dice data by site, show, and even episode.
  • It can now identify issues, along with the causes, enabling the company to quickly deploy specific integration teams to resolve issues.
  • It can track frequency cap violations and triage the problems to various integration teams.


The bottom-line result – our customer has seen multimillion dollar savings, better ad monetization, better ROI for its advertisers and a better viewer experience for its audiences.


If you are struggling to find the right business intelligence from your data and you need fast and actionable business insights, we can help.

Analytical Deep-Dive Provides Insights on Bonus Content for Multinational Media Company

AvatarDecember 28, 2016

As more consumers turn to on-demand video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, media entertainment companies are moving from the traditional DVD/Blu-ray market and further into online streaming.  But, with an almost endless amount of content choices available to consumers, media companies are looking for new ways to attract consumers’ attention to their unique content.


To help uplift and promote its home entertainment digital business, one multinational media company launched a new content initiative—developing bonus content like deleted scenes and wallpapers for the titles they have available for viewing on household devices and set top boxes.


Since this was a new initiative for the marketing and branding team, they had no system in place to track how the bonus content was performing and whether it was effective in increasing viewership of their content.


The Difficulty of Effectively Tracking Bonus Content

At the start of its bonus content initiative, the only data which the media company received from various streaming service providers was basic point of sale (POS) information that showed what movies or series was sold or rented and the number of sales. While this information helped the company determine what movies or series content was doing well, it didn’t allow them to see if the bonus content was helping boost their sales or not. And, even more specifically, what type of bonus content was most effective.


At the time, the company was using MicroStrategy as their reporting platform. However, they had limited knowledge of its capabilities and were only using its traditional form of grid style reports downloaded to Excel to determine high level behaviors of movie content. This functionality was not enough to allow them to track the user experience with bonus content. So for help, the media company turned to InfoCepts.


Using Meaningful Data and Visualization to Inform Decision-Making

Digging into the project, the InfoCepts team discovered that the web logs of the content servers could be used to identify the user behavior. This data could then be sourced to a pixel perfect dashboard on a daily basis to build pre-canned and meaningful visualization.


The InfoCepts team thus built a user-friendly pre-canned dashboard that integrates the data from web server logs and makes it easy to understand the user analytics and their experience with bonus content. The dashboard includes at-a-glance, visual metrics on a number of criteria, such as:

  • Overall traffic analysis summary across bonus content
  • Title performance analysis from historic period thru current date
  • Popularity by content type
  • Title performance comparison of current vs. previous month
  • Total number of active days of the bonus content across a title or movie

This dashboard not only provided the media company with traffic analysis over hosted bonus content, but through visualization also helped the branding team to review their strategies and plan and release their budget for hosted bonus content based on the popularity and viewing experience of the users. By looking at the historic trend analytics on the dashboard, the team can determine what type of bonus content will perform best.


For example, the marketing and branding team discovered that videos and gallery content (wallpapers and screen savers) were the most popular types of content, while interactive was the least popular. Since interactive content is quite costly to develop, having these insights helped the team use their resources wisely and focus on the types of content that perform best for the titles that are most popular.


Additionally, the dashboard helped the content team track and direct their resources to popular titles rather than developing new bonus content for less popular or non-performing titles or movies, which is based on the historic trend of viewing experience of the bonus content.


Post Live Impacts of the Dashboard Analytics

The dashboard InfoCepts created for the marketing and branding team has been a powerful tool to help the team achieve its goals. Specifically, once the dashboard was implemented, the team was able to use analytics derived from it to:


  • Substantiate ROI: The analytics dashboard allowed performance KPIs, such as hits/views and unique users, to be readily available to decision makers so they could measure marketing performance and justify the ROI of bonus content.
  • React and answer in real time: Thanks to dashboard analytics, the branding team could respond to real-time data insights. For example, the team tracked performance KPIs for the new bonus content to understand how the content was performing during its initial stages of go live and was then able to make adjustments to the content based on the real-time data insights to boost hits and engagement with users.
  • Fact-finding analysis: The dashboard also proved its value to perform investigative analysis. For example, spikes on certain days of the month or the far better performance of hits seen during summer vacation than over the Thanksgiving holiday helped the marketing team to effectively plan campaigns for the calendar year around these trends to boost sales.


More Insights to Come

The information the marketing and branding team is getting through the dashboard is already helping to drive more sales through better promotion and production of bonus content. However, there is still more personalized insights that additional data points could offer.


In the next phase of the project, the InfoCepts team will incorporate geolocation and time log data into the dashboard. This information will help the marketing and branding team create promotions and content for specific geographic regions or times of day.


For example, specific titles may do better in certain geographic regions than others or different times throughout the day may have higher viewership opportunities. With this information, the marketing and branding team can further personalize its promotions and content offered to sync better with geographic or time of day preferences.


Ultimately, thanks to the insights that the team has been able to extract, the marketing and branding team has been more successful in creating and promoting bonus content that achieves the team’s goals—engaging end users in a meaningful way that pushes them to stream their content over other choices available.


Does your marketing team have a complex data analytics problem it’s trying to solve? If so, let’s talk. We can help.

Simplify Media Planning and Boost Ad Revenue with a MicroStrategy Media Planning Report

AvatarApril 22, 2016

Today’s digitally-focused advertising world is complex and fast-paced. Decisions involve multiple entities—advertisers, publishers, agencies—and a variety of technologies to buy and sell ads. In addition, the fast-paced environment requires fast decision-making or there can be significant lost opportunity costs for everyone involved.

To further add to the complexity of managing digital ad campaigns, the creative ads that will be run—whether via search, social, or display—must be hyper-targeted to engage audiences. They must also be built as scalable ad experiences that can run on a variety of platforms, such as web, mobile, tablets, etc.

Managing the Creative Ad Process
For media planners, managing ad creative to ensure that they have the right ad ready to distribute to publishers at the right moment can be extremely challenging. Due to the need to accurately message audiences and build these messages in a scalable manner, ad creation can easily get behind schedule. But because late ad creative will likely result in revenue loss for the advertiser, media planners need to try to avoid late delivery of advertising materials as much as possible.

For example, in the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) terms and conditions sheet, it states that if the advertising materials are late, the media company is not required to guarantee full delivery of the insertion order. The advertiser will still need to pay for their creative, but they will lose the opportunity to get their ad in front of their target audience for as long as they want. As a result, they’ll likely have fewer clicks or views, and less opportunity to sell their product.

Bringing All the Ad Campaign Pieces Into a Coherent Picture
To help one agency deal with these kinds of difficulties, InfoCepts worked with their media planning and business planning team to create a database-generated report to improve visibility into the ad placement process.

Using MicroStrategy to build the report, the InfoCepts team incorporated numerous fields of information related to tracking and measuring key performance indicators of a digital ad campaign. These fields included details such as:

  • Name of advertiser, sales team, agencies, and traffickers
  • Pricing method
  • Creative status, potential revenue loss due to late creative, late by days, etc.
  • KPIs (impressions, cost, duration of placement)

With all of this information now tracked and accessible, the media planning team could use the report to gain better insight into not just the status of the creation of ad creative, but also how well ad campaigns were performing.

Armed with this type of information, it is much easier for media planners to identify in advance when ad creative will be late. Allowing them to take proactive rather than reactive measures to solve the problem and avoid revenue losses. Meanwhile, the ability to easily see and track KPIs made it easier to make smart decisions about ad placement during campaigns and for future campaigns.

Interested in learning more about how InfoCepts can help you better plan and track your digital ad campaigns? Please contact us.