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The Future of Personalized Ads and FAST Channels

The Future of Personalized Ads and FAST Channels

This article explores the transformative innovations in video streaming, focusing on the rise of FAST (Free Ad-supported Streaming TV) channels, the power of personalized advertising through Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI), and the strategic use of adaptive streaming to reach new viewers. It discusses the importance of maintaining high-quality viewer experiences and how broadcasters can strategically invest in new technologies. By examining global perspectives and regional dynamics, the article highlights how traditional TV is evolving into modern streaming services, offering valuable insights for video streaming engineers.

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The television landscape is undergoing a revolutionary transformation, and at the forefront of this change is the rise of FAST (Free Ad-supported Streaming TV) channels. As viewers increasingly cut the cord on traditional pay TV, a new era of streaming is emerging that blends the familiarity of linear TV with the flexibility of technology that enables personalized experiences. For video streaming engineers and technical executives, this shift presents challenges and opportunities that will shape the future of content delivery.

This article is based on a Voices of Video Conversation with Xavier Leclercq from Broadpeak. He explained how FAST channels redefine the streaming industry and the technological innovations driving this change. From adaptive bitrate streaming and server-side ad insertion to cloud-based solutions and personalized advertising, we uncovered the essential strategies and tools for success in this evolving market. 

Whether you’re looking to maximize revenue, improve viewer experience, or future-proof your streaming infrastructure, the insights shared here will provide a roadmap for navigating the exciting future of television and video streaming.

Reviving Traditional TV with FAST Channels

FAST (Free Ad-supported Streaming TV) channels are redefining the streaming landscape, especially in North America. As viewers cut the cord on traditional pay TV bundles, they crave a variety of channels, leading to the rise of FAST. This approach mimics linear TV but delivers content through streaming platforms, offering a modern twist on traditional television. While North America sees a huge demand for FAST, Europe still relies heavily on terrestrial broadcasts, highlighting regional differences in content consumption. Services like Pluto TV have successfully replicated the linear TV experience, offering a diverse range of channels and content catering to nostalgic viewers and new audiences.

Global Perspectives and Regional Dynamics

Countries like France, with services like Molotov TV, and global platforms like Samsung TV Plus and Pluto TV are pioneering the FAST space. These aggregators offer a fresh approach, differing from traditional broadcast methods, and are making a significant impact on the streaming industry. The emergence of these platforms demonstrates a shift in how content is delivered and consumed, catering to diverse viewer preferences and market dynamics. A deeper analysis shows that while the North American market quickly adapts to these changes due to a fragmented cable market, European broadcasters are integrating these models more slowly into their well-established systems. This nuanced approach allows for a gradual shift, reducing resistance from traditional broadcasters and ensuring a smooth transition for viewers to the newest streaming experiences.

Strategic Use of Content in FAST

FAST often features lower-value content due to the CPMs (Cost Per Mille) not justifying premium content on free channels. However, this strategy is brilliant for content discovery. Platforms use FAST to offer free content, enticing viewers to subscribe to premium content. This dual approach helps convert free viewers into paying subscribers, driving revenue while providing a taste of the platform’s offerings. For example, a platform might stream older popular shows for free while keeping the latest seasons behind a paywall. This method attracts new users and incentivizes them to upgrade to the most current content, balancing monetization models while allowing consumers choice.

Maximizing Revenue with Personalized Advertising

The future of advertising in streaming lies in personalized experiences. Server-side ad Insertion (SSAI) allows platforms to deliver targeted ads within streaming content, creating unique ad experiences for each viewer. By maximizing the relevance of ads, platforms can command higher CPMs, enhancing revenue. Netflix’s shift to an ad-supported model reflects confidence in the revenue potential of personalized ads, demonstrating how platforms can balance subscriptions and ad sales effectively. A deeper insight into SSAI reveals that it increases ad relevance and improves the overall user experience by reducing buffering times and ad load errors, making the viewing experience smoother and more engaging

The Power of Partnerships and Integration

In the competitive world of advertising technology, partnerships are key. Companies like Broadpeak collaborate with other vendors to create comprehensive ad solutions, leveraging each other’s strengths. This approach, known as “coopetition,” allows companies to offer robust services while maintaining their competitive edge. Integrating diverse solutions and working together can provide clients with seamless and effective ad tech services. An example of this is Broadpeak’s partnership with companies like Google Cloud and AWS, which enables them to offer scalable, reliable, and high-performance solutions to their clients, ensuring they can handle peak loads and provide uninterrupted services.

Adaptive Streaming and Seamless Ad Insertion

Adaptive Bitrate Streaming (ABR) combined with SSAI revolutionizes content delivery by ensuring a smooth viewing experience. Ads are seamlessly integrated into the playlist, meaning viewers don’t notice interruptions. This technology requires minimal changes on the player side, making it easy to implement. The ability to transcode ads on the fly ensures that ads match the video stream, enhancing the viewing experience. By integrating SSAI, they provide targeted ads that do not disrupt the viewing experience, thereby maintaining viewer engagement and satisfaction.

Future-Proofing with Innovative Technologies

Broadpeak’s Broadpeak.io platform exemplifies the advantages of cloud-based solutions. It offers a user-friendly, API-based approach for easy integration and scalability. This modern solution eliminates the need for specialized hardware, making it accessible for businesses of all sizes. Broadpeak helps clients stay ahead in the competitive ad tech landscape by focusing on innovative technologies. For example, the platform’s ability to handle vast amounts of data and deliver personalized content efficiently helps broadcasters and OTT providers reduce operational costs while increasing revenue through better-targeted ads and improved viewer retention.

Strategic Investments for Broadcasters

For broadcasters, prioritizing investments in streaming technology is crucial. Ensuring a high-quality viewing experience is paramount, as viewers quickly abandon poor-quality services. Investing in low-latency technology and robust CDNs is essential for retaining audiences. Additionally, exploring advertising as a revenue stream through revenue share models can help broadcasters experiment with ad-supported models without significant financial risk. An insightful example is the BBC’s strategy to integrate streaming services while maintaining its broadcast operations. By investing in low-latency streaming and hybrid models, they can cater to both traditional viewers and the growing streaming audience, ensuring a broad reach and sustained revenue.

The Future of Linear TV

Linear TV experiences like live sports and shared viewing will remain relevant. However, the delivery method is shifting towards streaming. More viewers prefer streaming devices over traditional set-top boxes, so content providers are motivated to move to streaming for better advertising opportunities. This shift is evidenced by entities like the BBC planning to stop broadcasting by the decade’s end, transitioning entirely to IP-based delivery. 

A deeper dive into this transition reveals that while the traditional broadcast model is declining, the core elements of linear TV—live, shared experiences—are being preserved and enhanced through technology. For instance, live streaming of sports events on platforms like Amazon Prime Video combines the immediacy of linear TV with the flexibility and interactivity of streaming, offering viewers the best of both worlds.

The Evolution Continues

The video streaming industry is on the cusp of a revolution driven by technological advancements and changing viewer preferences. From the rise of FAST channels to the power of personalized advertising and seamless integration, the future holds exciting possibilities. Stay tuned to see how these innovations shape the way we consume content.

Explore the full episode of Voices of Video with Xavier Leclercq from Broadpeak here.

Picture of Mark Donnigan

Mark Donnigan

is a veteran of the video ecosystem, working with disruptive innovation companies like NETINT to increase video codec standards and streaming video technology adoption. In addition to working at the forefront of building one of the world's first T-VOD services and driving early HEVC and AV1 adoption, Mark contributed actively to the development and growth of the digital locker initiative, Ultraviolet, breaking device-based content walled gardens, allowing consumers to enjoy video on any device, any time, and in any location. As a technologist and ecosystem developer, Mark's work building cloud-deployed and hyper-scale WebRTC, live, metaverse, and cloud gaming applications gives him a unique view of the OTT and video streaming landscape.

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