CTV experiments with new online HD player

The move is part of plans to develop new ad units that offer deeper engagement opps with advertisers and more robust metrics.

CTV has launched the CTV HD Beta Player, potentially making it the first Canadian network to offer high definition video online. More robust metrics for online video, with more detail around engagement time and sharing, are also in the works.

The HD player, powered by new streaming technology by Akamai AdaptiveEdge and Microsoft Silverlight, adapts stream quality based on a user’s connection speed: consumers with varying bandwidth connections can experience instant streaming with no buffering.

The beta version of the player will run until the end of August. It currently allows the broadcaster to analyze various user engagement elements such as marrying demographics and interests with standard 2+ measurements like unique visitors, views and time spent, to create a better experience for audiences while offering greater efficiencies to advertisers. ‘Our primary goal is to understand how HD content might affect audience behaviour – both in terms of choice and length of engagement,’ says CTV VP digital media Stephan Argent, adding the data will be key in CTV’s decision-making vis-à-vis advertising.

Argent tells MiC advances in the development and adoption of new ad units that offer deeper engagement opps are expected as part of future plans.

‘The great thing about the digital space is that we can build highly customizable solutions for our advertisers that want to move beyond standard display and pre-roll ad products, to bring brands into our show environments and connect them in a meaningful way to our audiences,’ he says, listing rich online marketing options like UGC, games, Flash and social interaction elements. Current examples include the net’s interactive environment at Gossip Girl, and integrations for Cloverleaf and Aquafina within the So You Think You Can Dance Canada site .

Currently, the new player has eps of Corner Gas, Flashpoint and CTV’s made-for-digital production Malawi’s Song streaming with the net’s existing portfolio of ad products and sponsorships, including pre- and post-roll creative, billboards and bumpers. Because the HD offering online is still new, there aren’t any ads delivered in HD on the site, but Argent says the platform can support such ads when advertisers are ready. A single advertiser can also sponsor the player.

To help build the new platform, CTV is also comparing the data to non-HD video streams, and soliciting feedback from users that can be used in the future development of the player.

‘We’re seeing much stronger [online video] adoption both from our audience and advertisers,’ notes Argent, pointing to CTV’s doubling of its streams last year to more than 330 million. Argent predicts that number will double again this year.