Here’s how Adobe helped NBC personalize ads during the Olympics

Olympics viewers could stream content on multiple devices and still see personalized ads.

There’s a reason the 50 million viewers who livestreamed over 3.4 billion minutes of 2016 Olympics content might have been happier with – or at least less annoyed by – the ads they saw during the Olympics this year.

That’s because NBC Sports teamed up with Adobe on dynamic ad insertion, in which ads are personalized for each viewer during live or on-demand programming, making this what Adobe called the first live linear ad replacement for every screen — which included 10+ platforms — for a live broadcast with millions of viewers.

“Dynamic ad insertion into on-demand is fairly straightforward, but the challenge with live is that when there’s an ad break, there’s an audience of 1.5 million people all watching on different devices and when you cut to commercial break, you have to serve 1.5 million dynamically targeted ads or fall back to the broadcast ad and you need powerful software, which Adobe provides,” said Campbell Foster, marketing director for Adobe’s video technology platform, Primetime.

Foster also said it’s the first time NBC Sports implemented dynamic ad insertion across the board for the entire Olympics broadcast after experimenting in Sochi.

In addition, Foster noted over half of NBC Sports’ 50 million streamers were under the age of 35.

“The takeaway is that under 35s are really watching [TV] differently,” Foster said. “They are not sitting down and watching a scheduled linear feed. It’s when and where they want to watch on what device.”

Foster also noted the biggest audience NBC Sports saw during the 2016 Olympics was over one million viewers for the women’s gymnastics final and while Foster said this “to our knowledge was the largest single [dynamic ad insertion] in a live broadcast,” he also noted NBC did not want to disclose the specific number of dynamic ads served.

The news comes as Adobe announces new capabilities in Primetime, including this live linear ad replacement across screens. Adobe said media companies broadly can now replace broadcast TV commercials with dynamically targeted ads using data points like device type, audience behavioral characteristics, Nielsen segments and psychographic data to give audiences more relevant, personalized ads and increase CPMs.

NBC Sports is also using dynamic ad insertion for broadcasts of the Premier League, as well as golf and hockey — and for on-demand content as well.

“So if you want to watch a clip of a certain hockey game like the Stanley Cup Finals, that’s benefiting from dynamic ad insertion as well,” Foster added.

Others dynamic ad insertion clients include Comcast, Turner and Sony Crackle.

In addition, Adobe is announcing a new measurement model for Adobe Analytics for Video, which it said will help marketers more clearly understand engagement.

By analyzing video streams rather than just starts and stops, Adobe said brands using its new measurement features will have the advantage of a more complete picture of how content is being consumed.

“The way Analytics was originally architected for video was to provide quartile reporting across streams, so you know how much of the video they watched, but you didn’t know second by second how much they watched,” Foster said. “The new system lets the broadcaster and programmer understand second by second how long people are watching and it gives you a more detailed look into what and how people are watching.”

And this, Foster said, will result in both better programming and advertising decisions.

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