Video Advertising Integration with Mid & Pre Roll Support

Video Advertising Integration with Mid & Pre Roll Support

Need a robust video advertising integration solution for content you own?

IBM Watson Media is expanding the advertising options available to content owners through the addition of custom ad solutions. Tailored for live and on-demand video, these are available as a product offering from IBM Watson Media with additional managed services to best support existing and new ad setups.

This article explains more about using video advertising, the available solutions from IBM Watson Media, use cases and the technology behind it. To learn more about the offered services, contact sales for additional details.

Live video monetization

IBM Watson Media supports both advertising on live and on-demand content through its video streaming solution. Both are great assets to monetize, although live comes with slightly different challenges. Ads have the potential to disrupt content, but that content can also see viewers engaged for long spans of time, a situation that encourages something more intricate than a single pre-roll ad.

Tackling this takes the availability of tools to better manage assets and experience in deploying them, and IBM Watson Media has 11 years of experience in the live ad space. As part of these custom ad solutions, content owners will get access to staff that understands their needs and challenges, aiding in building your video business around ads. This can include integrations with existing ad setups or aiding in the development of new setup and strategy.


How it works

IBM Watson Media offers two different methods for utilizing video advertising. This can include integrating with existing methods, simplifying moving in-place video advertising setups, or setting up a new ad sales model through managed services.

Ad Integration with you in control 100%

For businesses that have their own Ad Server, Sales and Operations, IBM Watson Media offers an integration with their established method of serving ads. After connecting IBM’s system to your choice of Ad Server, you gain full control of the Ad Inventory within the IBM Watson Media player. Our system will send you all the necessary meta data and targeting information in real-time with each ad request, including media ID, content keywords, title and viewer geo-location.

Managed Services for new setups

For businesses not yet built around an Ad Sales model, IBM Watson Media offers a service where IBM acts as the Ad Server and Ad Operations.

Through these managed services, our team of experts will work with you from planning all the way through execution in order to produce scalable results. These services include help with insights on Ad Placements, Formats, managing your yield with ad networks and optimizing for best performance.Ideal for live events requiring a limited number of sponsor messages, or publishers with an SSP (supply-side platform) handling their ad inventory. You will not need any knowledge or resources of ad serving to monetize your video strategy. Our experts also can assist you to build your own ad operations, with insights on ad serving technologies and yield management with advertising networks. We provide the service, you generate the revenue.


Mid-roll and pre-roll video advertising

IBM utilizes two general approaches for video ad placements. These include both pre-roll and mid-roll options. If these are unfamiliar terms, they differ based on when the advertisement plays, each fitting better with particular types of content.

Starting first with pre-rolls, this is a video advertisement that runs before the content begins. It’s a universal ad placement that can be used both client-side and server-side. It can be played on virtually any device and across virtually any format (VAST, VPAID HTML). It is:

  • Good for short and long-form assets
  • Suited for live or on-demand content
  • Skippable
  • Easily measurable with SSAI (Server-Side Ad Integration)

This kind of ad breaks up content, playing after the video has already started. It can be set to play at a designated moment, essentially pausing the content for a commercial break, or do it based on a unit of time that has passed. For example, after 5 minutes of view time an ad could play. This type of advertisement is better suited for long form content, be that lengthy video on-demand files or live streaming content. In the case of the latter, depending on your content you will need to make a production decision on whether timed mid-rolls suit you best (no important live segments would be lost by overlaying the ad), or manual ‘commercial breaks’ would integrate better, with ad pods being initiated by you. In terms of the available options and tools for mid-rolls from IBM Watson Media, these include:

  • Timed mid-rolls: ad breaks that occur after a certain amount of time is spent watching content. These don’t need cue points, and will start relative to when the viewer started watching. This method is ideal for long form content, in particular video on-demand assets that are on the lengthy side. It’s also well suited for live streams where there is no risk of the viewer missing out on important content while the ad is playing.
  • Mid-roll cue tool: this proprietary tool allows content owners to insert ad cues. Once a cue is hit, it will signal the server to start playing ads in real time. Sports content is particularly well suited for this, as a cue can be placed during halftime or a timeout for minimal disruption while also keeping content engaging.
  • Live playlists: IBM Watson Media’s proprietary SSAI (Server-Side Ad Insertion) solution. This allows content owners to stitch ads into a server-side live playlist, creating long form content or simulating traditional channel TV with timed programming and commercial breaks. It’s ideal both for trying to emulate TV programming and also the rebroadcasting of previously live content.

All of the above mid-roll options support both mutli-ad pods and skippable ads.


Video advertising use cases

A variety of genres can appeal to video advertising, from sports games with natural breaks to seminars with gaps between speakers. As monetization goes, it’s an appealing model as it’s easier to ask viewers to depart with a bit of their time to watch a video ad as opposed to paying for access to that content through pay per view.

While genres that fit into video advertising are far reaching, there are certain programming types that stand out as great use cases for ads. These use cases, which stretch across pre-roll and mid-roll ads, include:

24/7 Online Broadcasts

  • Live streaming video and server-side playlists
  • Using themed live channels accessible on any device
  • Monetized by pre-rolls and mid-rolls automatically
  • Running sponsor ads with ad network backfill

Live Event Series – Web-unique or Simulcast

  • Live events with multi-hour or multi-day live streams
  • Web-exclusive broadcasts or simulcasts
  • Custom built apps
  • Syndication to partners or websites
  • Broadcaster-inserted ad cues for sponsor ads

Content as Marketing – Product Launches, Conferences, Direct Marketing

  • Live event built around marketing campaigns
  • Broadcast information on products / services
  • Flexible manual mid-roll pods fired at scripted times
  • Customized CTA (call to action) ad breaks per segment

Web-Exclusive short form Live Streams

  • From 30 minute to 24 hour live shows
  • Web-exclusive interviews, meet and greets, backstage
  • Interactive chat, integrated moderated Q&A, live chat
  • Advertising current product or product just released


Video ad integration features

The ad solutions from IBM Watson Media offer a variety of different features for content owners, from compatibility across a variety of ad servers to support for industry and IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) standards.

Video Ads tailored for Live Broadcasting
Mid-rolls, ad-pods, ad cue triggered breaks, Client-side Ad Insertion (CSAI), Server-side Ad Insertion (SSAI), on desktop, mobile browsers, mobile apps and CTV (Connected TV). Our feature lineup covers everything from web-exclusive content monetization to TV style Live-playlist broadcasts with ad breaks encoded into the video stream.. In case your business model requires a custom setup, IBM is ready to evolve further with you.

Stay in full control of Sales Rights
Multi-layered ad rules help matching ads, sponsors and ad-free zones to content, device, URL and region. Pre-screen syndicated players for brand safety.

Plug-and-Play Google DFP Integration, Works with Virtually any Ad Server
The IBM Watson Media player comes integrated with Google DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) and Google IMA (Interactive Media Ads) out of the box, but is compatible with virtually any ad server using IAB standards, such as FreeWheel or OATH. In case your business doesn’t have an ad server ready, IBM will provide you with Managed Ad Services, detailed reporting and insights.

Ad Integration Supports Industry and IAB Standards
Make sure ads are delivered, experienced, measured as intended. Integrated with Google IMA VAST, VPAID HTML, using Ad Waterfall on all devices.


Technology highlights for ad integration

IBM Watson Media Client-Side Ad Integration (CSAI)

The current standard method of ad delivery, supported by most advertisers and ad servers, has your ads loaded into and appearing inside the IBM Watson Media player. The actual live streaming content from IBM Watson Media’s servers is left intact in the background, paused and muted, while the advertisement plays full or is skipped. Recordings of your live content will not have the advertisement, not even its place (no blanks, or slates). After the ad has been unloaded from the player, the content resumes. The strong point of the CSAI method is easily applicable interactivity (skip, learn more, pause and additional interactive / call-to action buttons on the ad), and also a direct and reliable measurement of efficiency (did people click the ad, have they skipped it, did they watch it in full, was it on-screen?). The IBM Watson Media player will use your ad rules and Waterfall settings to fill the ad spots, which system allows you to designate devices, domains or locations where you wish to disable certain or all ad placements. In summary, CSAI is the currently most flexible system IBM Watson Media offers out-of-the-box on most devices, desktop, mobile browsers and mobile web.

IBM Watson Media Server-Side Ad Integration (SSAI)

The more complex system of SSAI brings back an earlier method of inserting advertisements into your live streams. Much like in broadcast TV, on cue, the ads are actually stitched into your video content on the IBM server during transcoding. This seamless integration can create a unified user experience (video quality, resolution, fps, audio can all be adjusted to match the live content). Also, ad blocking software can’t detect the advertisement, and won’t be able to remove it from the player. As the advertisement is encoded into the outgoing stream to the IBM Watson Media player, it works with DHLS, and is basically entirely independent of device compatibility requirements. In regards of measurements and interactivity, depending on deployment SSAI can have limitations. IBM Watson Media is ready to work with you on a solution best for your business case. Options include a combination of CSAI where applicable, defaulting to SSAI on devices where CSAI is not available, and server-side tracking picking up measurement to be sent to ad servers indirectly.



Video advertising is a tried and true method to generate revenue from video content. Either simulating televised presentations or an engaging live stream are just a few of many different types of content that fit well with an advertising strategy. IBM Watson Media makes it relatively easy to take this content and develop robust advertising strategies around it as well, with offerings catered to both content owners with existing advertising strategies and also those new this form of video monetization.

To learn more about the offerings, the options best for you and pricing, please contact sales.