Google's Chromecast is a genuinely ingenious solution to the perennial issue of getting Internet content to the TV screen. The impulse-buy pricing of the TV dongle is a no-brainer. Putting much of the processing and control on the iOS or Android device is inspired. But according to video and ad platform Brightcove’s CTO AJ McGowan, the stripped-down hardware of the dongle itself does pose a problem for streaming traditional inserted video ads. “In traditional client-side approaches to online video ad insertions the mechanism is you playback the content, pause, insert the ad and go back and forth with the video stream. The Chromecast hardware is not powerful enough to support two streams simultaneously.”
Early attempts to use the traditional method of flipping between ad and content streams produces a “jarring experience” he claims, with noticeable pauses among the breaks.
Brightcove rolled out a cloud-based solution to the problem today in its Brightcove Once product. In this model, the ad is inserted in the cloud and before it reaches the Chromecast dongle. “The device thinks it is using one stream,” says McGowan.
Although the ad is inserted in the cloud, Brightcove still can use the device to help tell the cloud platform how to target and insert ads on an individual basis. “The net effect for the user is that it works in a highly optimized experience that looks like TV.” And the Chromecast integration is aimed at those very clients who depend on TV brands looking like TV no matter where they show up. Brightcove counts among its clients ESPN, Viacom, NBC, and many others. The Brightcove Once platform, which allows for easier cross-platform video deployments, was technology the company acquired earlier this year when it closed the purchase of Unicorn Media. The $49 million acquisition gave Brightcove cloud based ad stitching technology that was already being used by The Weather Channel, NBC and ESPN. Because the ad insertions are part of the stream, the model also thwarts common ad blocking software.
McGowan says the SDK was released just days ago and so no partners are using the Chromecast ad insertion technique yet.