Setting the Stage
If you enjoy spending your downtime watching video online—whether it’s to learn a new skill, catch up on the latest trends or chuckle at the latest cat meme—you’re not alone. In 2015, for the first time users in the US spent more of their online time with video content than on social media1 , an example of the global growth in the popularity of this type of content. This burgeoning market presents a significant opportunity for advertisers, who can now reach more people, across more devices and platforms than ever before. However, when you’re keen to get on with watching your favorite feline celebrity’s latest antics, having to sit through a 15–30 second advertisement first can seem like an interminable delay. To engage you, the ad needs to stand out. It needs to be about something you’re interested in, and be delivered smoothly, clearly, and without any delays from buffering or the video content not being compatible with your player or operating system. The challenge facing advertisers then, is not only about creating a fun and creative piece of content. They must ensure that content reaches the most receptive audience and is delivered consistently well, whatever the site or platform (desktop or mobile) it is played on.
The sites and platforms that publish the ads must also ensure the viewer experience is a good one. If not, people will stop watching and the value of their advertising real estate could drop, meaning less income per slot, or an inability to fill all the advertising slots available on its site (fill rate). Cedato was founded in 2015 to empower the booming video advertising ecosystem players to benefit from the opportunities it presents. “The online video advertising industry is currently around $8 billion in the western hemisphere,” says Dvir Doron, chief marketing officer at Cedato. “It’s still growing so there’s huge potential there. Our mission is to help ‘match-make’ advertisers and publishers to enable both of them to drive the most value while delivering the best possible customer experience.” Cedato provides a platform that analyzes data from advertisers and publishers in real-time, taking into account the multitude of devices, operating systems and video player technologies available, to optimize delivery of the right content to the right viewer, using the right technologies.
As a startup company without an established market presence, Cedato knew that in order to successfully build its customer base, it needed to offer a really compelling product. “Our business is all about our ability to analyze and optimize all the data that we’re handling quickly, and create amazing outcomes for our customers,” says Doron. “So it was essential for us to have control over every aspect of our IT and network infrastructures in order to make this happen.” When it began looking for a suitable server platform, Cedato sought solutions that offered strong performance, reliability, and availability as it needed to ensure that it could offer a competitive service that met strict SLAs. It also had to build in the ability to support peaks and troughs in demand, such as the yearly busy period in the fourth quarter as well as other ad hoc spikes in demand that are often hard to predict. “The other key concern for us was scalability,” Doron says. “We were starting from scratch and expecting to be handling up to a couple of billion views per month within a relatively short time frame. We had to be able to support growth to this scale and beyond, without compromising quality of service.”
Solution and Results
After considering a few different options, Cedato chose to run its optimization platform on a combination of bare metal and virtual servers from SoftLayer. Doron explains, “We chose SoftLayer as it’s an IBM company, and so we could be sure we’d be getting the industry-leading performance and reliability we needed. We went for the mix of bare metal and virtual servers, as we’re able to manage them ourselves and we get what we felt was the best cost/performance ratio.”
For its initial launch and roll-out, Cedato worked with the SoftLayer Catalyst program, which provides financial support and investment to startup companies. “We needed a strong partner that could help us scale very fast, so we were grateful for the backing of the Catalyst program,” says Doron. Since implementing the solution, Cedato has seen some significant improvements over the platform it had previously used to develop its optimization solution. In just a matter of months, it has grown to support 6 billion views per month, which is a much larger and faster ramp-up than it had expected. Nevertheless, the platform has supported this growth seamlessly. The ability to conduct in-depth real time analysis and optimization means that Cedato has helped its customers increase their fill rate three-fold, while advertisers and publishers are able to achieve time to value 80 percent faster, in a matter of days rather than weeks. “We’re now able to offer a competitive solution that helps our customers take advantage of video advertising opportunities, including mobile in-app placements, instream and extensive infrastructure APIs to create custom innovative video ad-units,” says Doron. “Moreover, we’re positioned well to scale up and drive further innovation in the future. For example, the TV advertising market is up to 10 times the size of the online market, so we’ll be looking at ways to help match advertisers to TV publishers as the industry evolves.”
“ WE CHOSE SOFTLAYER BECAUSE IT’S AN IBM COMPANY, SO WE COULD BE SURE WE’D BE GETTING THE INDUSTRY LEADING PERFORMANCE AND RELIABILITY WE NEEDED. WE WENT FOR THE MIX OF BARE METAL AND VIRTUAL SERVERS, AS WE’RE ABLE TO MANAGE THEM OURSELVES AND WE GET WHAT WE FELT WAS THE BEST COST/PERFORMANCE RATIO.”
– DVIR DORON, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, CEDATO