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The future of video ads: Text

Adap.TV embeds text ads in videos. Sound obnoxious? It's not nearly as bad as most video ads.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

I just got a very interesting demo from Adap.TV CEO Amir Ashkenazi. His company has built an online video-advertising technology that ignores one of the old maxims of advertising: that advertisements should be in the same medium as the content they are running in.

Adap.TV places text ads in videos. When a user clicks on one of these text come-ons, the video pauses and a new window opens on the ad's Web page.

It's a smart strategy, because there are a lot more text and Web ads for the system to chose from than there are video ads, and the experience for the Web user is less obnoxious than other embedded video-advertising schemes, including preroll, postroll, and in-place permission-based video ads.

Adap.TV currently uses the Looksmart text ad network as its source of ads. It also reads in the Amazon catalog and can match products to videos that are playing. The system is completely automated--it uses both metadata (tags and links) as well as video analysis (speech-to-text and scene change detection) to determine the ads to place and where to insert them.

When you click on the text ad under the video, the player pauses and opens the ad link in a new window. CNET Networks

In the screenshot is a sample of what the system does at its best, from the Spiderman video game promo that's up on MetaCafe (the ads don't seem to appear on the video when it's embedded, which is interesting).

Adap.TV isn't universally brilliant, though. On a user-submitted music/travel video I tried, it popped up seemingly out-of-context ads. I got a "Locate people for free" promo at about 1:24 in this video of pretty sunsets.

The system monitors performance of the ads it chooses and refines its choices based on what users are--and are not--clicking. So, hopefully, other users won't see the bad ad that I did.

For the past month, Adap.TV ads have been served on four channels of MetaCafe (Travel, Video games, Music, and Sports). MetaCafe has not yet increased its payouts for publishers whose videos get the ads, but the Adap.TV platform has increased the site's revenue per video, Ashkenazi told me. Other partnerships are in the works.

People who want to embed the Adap.TV technology on their own site can get code from the company to do so. Ashkenazi says it takes about an hour to integrate it into a video site (I did not test this). The advantage to doing this, of course, is that all the advertising revenue from the Adap.TV ads will then flow directly to the publisher.

The way Adap.TV puts text ads into videos is very smart. We haven't yet seen, though, what Google/YouTube will settle on for its video monetization strategy. For all we know, Google may settle on Adap.TV.

See also: VideoEgg, ScanScout, and Revver.

Ashkenazi will be presenting at the SuperNova conference this week and at Under the Radar next week. You can this online coupon to get $100 off admission: