If new ad formats hold the key to increased media revenue, Andrew Eifler is throwing the kitchen sync at the industry.

On top of seven native ad formats and several standard video ad formats, Eifler’s TripleLift is now helping inject advertisers’ virtual products directly into OTT TV content.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Eifler, TriplLift’s chief product officer, says the idea of brand insertion will take off because publishers are under pressure in the age of abundant content.

Publishers squeezed

Describing the pressure on video providers, Eifler says: “They’re sort of squeezed in an interesting spot where they have to pay a lot of money to acquire content … where, at the same time, they have to fight other streaming providers, other OTT providers for users – which means that they have to keep their ad load fairly low.

“They’re sort of pinched in this impossible position where they’re paying out a lot of money, but they’re not making a lot of money.

“The sweet spot there is non-interruptive advertising, where we can allow OTT publishers to make money without increasing their ad load, and in a way that is natural and friendly to the user experience.”

Virtual insertion

Brand insertion has come a long way. Product placement has existed in TV for years, of course. But, until recently, making a brand’s product appear in a show had to be done in the camera.

Companies like TripleLift and Mirriad, however, are using computer vision to enable this in post-production – potentially unlocking new revenue streams for both producers and distributors.

That is one of four ad formats Eifler says TripleLift is aiming to pioneer for OTT TV:

  1. Overlay in the lower third of a content stream.
  2. In-action Six AKA ‘Squeeze-back’ – “During a natural break in the programming, we’ll squeeze back the content, play an ad side-by-side. That experience is being used by a lot of the major networks now for sports and the like.”
  3. Brand Insertions – “On a flat surface, like a digital billboard, we’ll insert a picture of a brand into an existing television stream in a post-production way.”
  4. Product Insertion – “A show owner will send us a show, we’ll scan it and, using AI and machine learning, detect where the opportunities are to insert 3D objects into the stream.”

Double whammy

Those last formats are exciting Eifler, because the virtual product insertions can now be done in a manner that is addressable to viewers.

“We can actually inject 3D objects on behalf of advertisers into the stream,” he says. “We do it in a way that doesn’t affect the narrative or storyline. That works very well with non-scripted content.”

But Eifler doesn’t think that we will see a bifurcation in the industry – a split between publishers that go all-in to offer either product insertions or standard 30- and 60-second commercials.R

Rather, he says, when both formats are bought together, the results compound.

“One of my personal hypotheses is that those products will be bundled in the future,” Eifler says. “We’ve actually done some very interesting consumer research where we found, if you see a product insertion and then you also see a traditional ad for the same product, it has a knock -n effect in terms of brand recall.”

Identity challenge

Either way, both such techniques are likely to be important, as the further withering of audience identifiers, on top of connected TV’s historic paucity of such signals, conspires to make contextual targeting more important.

“From a marketer perspective, I think that GDPR probably had much less impact than folks thought,” says Eifler.

“(But) he vast majority of marketers, I think, are very under-prepared to really grapple with the magnitude of change that privacy and identity changes are going to have on their business in ’21.”

He says the deprecation of third-party tracking cookies will not much hurt large, walled-garden operators, but the waning of Apple’s IDFA capabilities is more likely to diminish them, as seen by Facebook taking out a full-page newspaper ad against Apple.