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Non-intrusive, contextualised video ads

Video has become one if not the most popular and effective tool for online marketers — one that is predicted to account for a mind-bending 80 % of Internet traffic by 2019. However, invasive advertisement methods and lack of contextualisation are still holding back revenues. French startup Adways hopes to build upon this untapped potential with its non-intrusive, automated video enrichment technology.

Digital Economy

Adways’ main target is the so-called ‘pre-roll’ — an advertising method reminiscent of television practices which sees users being forced to watch an ad for a certain time before accessing their content. According to 2016 statistics, such methods inevitably result in 90 % of people skipping the ad. In other words, instead of capturing interest, current pre-rolls only cause viewers to eagerly search for the skip button. ‘Customers are reaching the saturation point, and this is where Adways can help,’ says Jacques Cazin, CEO of Adways. ‘We believe that the highest market potential lies in a disruptive advertising format consisting in the placement of a Call to Action from a brand, displayed as an overlay of a content video. Such a non-intrusive format working on all devices allows for boosting video monetisation while reconciling customers with the ads.’ In addition to its user-friendliness, the ad format proposed by Adways in the form of SAAS cloud software boasts ‘contextual affinity’, which means that all displayed ads are directly relevant to the content the user wanted to be watching in the first place. ‘This required the integration of semantic algorithms for transcription, voice to text conversion or image analysis, which was very demanding in terms of engineering,’ Cazin points out. Let’s take the example of a web user watching a live stream fashion show: unlike current methods which would force this person to watch a video about, say, the flight tickets he/she was looking for two weeks ago, Adways will automatically display ads from the brands being worn by the models, allowing for quick and easy purchases. This type of interactivity is at the very heart of Adways’ concept. In addition to e-commerce functions, brands can display quizzes, polls, votes, texts, images, social network feeds or even videos within videos — all this whilst leaving the user in control to create his/her own advertising experience. And the icing on the cake, the company claims click rates which can exceed 5 %, thereby doubling average advertising revenues. ‘Adways Studio is an intelligent, well-integrated and revenue-oriented platform,’ Cazin says. ‘Its advantages lie in its easy-to-use interface, integration with the largest “Online video player” (OVP) companies, the low resources and operations required, and the powerful semantic algorithms enabling us to enrich videos with contextual information.’ This high potential led the EU to grant Adways close to EUR 1 million in funding under Phase 2 of the SME Instrument, for the INTERACTIVE VIDEO (Automatic creation of interactive video to double video advertising revenues whilst decreasing inconvenience for viewers) project that started in April 2015 and came to an end in November 2016. ‘This funding enabled us to hire engineers and marketers to further develop our solution and accelerate our international expansion,’ Cazin explains. When the project was launched, the company notably aimed to reach a 50 % market share among French media outlets after 18 months, with a revenue forecast of more than EUR 100 million five years after the project’s start. Whilst Adways still has a long way to go in order to get there, Cazin is confident that it has a promising future. ‘We have just launched our disruptive technology, and for the time being we are the only company to offer this kind of advertising format,’ he says. ‘YouTube also just announced that the pre-roll will be reduced in early 2018, which is exactly the type of news that will speed up the deployment of our contextual ad overlay as a viable alternative to pre-roll.’ Adways hopes to deploy its solutions in Europe and the USA, as well as create an Adways Network able to buy a video inventory. ‘We want to sell advertisers and media agencies the best media plan including our formats,’ Cazin concludes.


INTERACTIVE VIDEO, online marketing, Adways, video enrichment, pre-roll, cloud, e-commerce, interactive video

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