At the Future of TV Advertising conference in London last month, Ronan McCarthy, SVP Media Operations, DAZN, said that the sports streamer is looking to offer interactive ad formats in the future which are relevant to the content environment, such as second screen interactive ad formats. He noted that, currently, DAZN runs overlay ads in the form of two-box split screen during broadcasted games, as well as mid-roll ads during live matches. In the future DAZN wants to have these ads be addressable ad server management delivered.
He also mentioned that DAZN’s planning of inventory changes depending on the content environment. McCarthy said: “The volume of ad breaks and the length of those ad breaks are the two key factors. The appetite for ad sales will inform the time and duration of those ad breaks, and then the nature of the events will inform the number of breaks.” McCarthy remarked that sports events tend to lend themselves to ads as there are natural moments for breaks within the content.
He also noted that the majority of DAZN’s inventory is sold directly – either through its sales team on an IO basis or directly through programmatic. The proportion of inventory which is traded programmatically depends on the market dynamics in different countries. He cites Japan as an example of a market which is more experienced with programmatic and displays a greater willingness to trade programmatically for live over VOD. He mentioned that the DACH region and Canada are two DAZN markets in which programmatic selling is mostly for on-demand content.
McCarthy believes that DAZN’s position in-between streaming and broadcast worlds means it can offer brands value across both domains. He said: “I think we are at the cross-section of scale and reach traditional TV delivers in terms of the premium sports rights we have in the markets we operate in. We can offer advertisers a brand safe environment around premium content but also digital capabilities in terms of the metrics, the benchmarks, the targeting and creative messaging that can be done versus the traditional ‘one-size-fits-all” approach.
“Interestingly, DAZN launched originally without advertising integrated into service,” he said, continuing, “We integrated advertising obviously for an incremental revenue opportunity but also the need to fill content arounds the natural breaks of the games.”
He remarked that delivering broadcast-standard quality advertising in a live environment was a challenge and focus of DAZN’s product engineering and broadcast teams. Other operational and technical challenges appeared as DAZN sought to integrate its ad service. He said: “We had to re-architect our whole video workflow from broadcast to enable server-side ad insertions. That means changing streaming protocols and changing broadcasts workflows. We wanted to be digital-first and to focus on addressable advertising as the main source of advertising
“Within my team we are more digitally focused. In terms of knowledge and upscaling we had to cross-train our sales and operations teams to be more digitally focused but in the broadcast environment. So there’s a whole re-education that we had to do with regards to how we manage broadcast and how we specifically manage it for digital advertising.”