Brands Experiment With Ads in Live Streamed Video

decorah-eagleThe bourgeoning medium of live-streamed online media continues to grow, and is attracting increased interest not only from content producers, but advertisers looking to capitalize on the branding opportunities it presents.

Last week YouTube introduced live streaming capabilities for some of its partners, and although no ads are currently appearing alongside that content, the Google-owned video giant will eventually look to monetize it through some form of sponsorship or advertising.

Meanwhile sites like Ustream are already selling ads, with major brands including BP and Kellogg’s running executions on the site in the past week.

On Tuesday BP ran a takeover of the extremely popular live stream of a bald eagle family in Decorah – provided by the Raptor Resource Project – which displayed a 30 second pre-roll ad to each user that joined the feed coupled with a display ad alongside the video itself. The messaging of those ads referred to its clean-up efforts following the oil spill it was involved with in the Gulf of Mexico a year ago.

BP and its agency Mindshare declined to comment on that sponsorship, but the sheer number of viewers the channel has garnered suggests it could have reached a substantial audience. To date the channel has in excess of 26 million views.

In an email to ClickZ, the Raptor Resource Director, Bob Anderson, said the non-profit organization does not receive any of the revenue generated from the ads alongside the stream, but stressed that it could not afford to provide the stream otherwise. “We tolerate the ads to provide the best bald eagle cam ever,” he said. Ustream did not return requests for comment on how it sells its ads.

Live streaming is, of course, by no means reserved for amateur content. Last week MLB signed a contract with video ad platform provider Auditude to help it inject ads in real time into its live online baseball feeds.

Rather than serve users a simple pre-roll, the technology serves mid-roll ads to coincide with commercial breaks in the broadcast. According to Auditude CEO Jeremy Helfand, content owners such as MLB are often looking to provide a TV like environment for its advertisers perhaps to aid the sale of cross-platform campaigns and packages.

“We really specialize in replicating a TV-like experience,” Helfand said, though he did point out that advertisers are increasingly making use of content tailored for the web, rather than exploiting existing TV creative.

As well as targeting ads contextually and based on demographic and geographic information, Auditude’s platform can serve based on behavioral data sets, Helfand said. It can also deliver content to mobile and tablet devices, providing media owners with a cross platform solution.

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