TechBytes with Dr. Stefan Birrer, CEO, Phenix

TechBytes with Dr. Stefan Birrer, CEO, Phenix
TechBytes with Dr. Stefan Birrer, CEO, Phenix

What is the difference between “real-time” and “live” content? How can this difference impact business?

Common perception is that “live” streamed content is the same as “real-time,” but this is far from the truth. In fact, most “live” streams suffer from delays, or latency, lasting anywhere from 10 to 90 seconds. This is problematic because more than one in three viewers would give a stream up to just one minute to improve quality before abandoning it altogether — resulting in wasted dollars for advertisers, leaving their messages unseen by their target audiences.

This sentiment proves there’s no room for error. Most of today’s streaming platforms are too unpredictable — putting advertiser dollars at risk and alienating users who don’t want to put up with volatile streaming technology and are, therefore, not viewing or engaging with ads. It’s vital for advertisers and brands to do their due diligence and find a platform that has a track record of delivering high-quality streams at scale and in real-time so their message can successfully reach target audiences.

The streaming industry is a crowded space. What does this mean for the future of digital advertising?

Today, there are well over 200 streaming services in existence — and as this market continues to grow, so will the value of advertising. Digital advertising is expected to account for 50 percent of total global ad spend by 2020 — and if advertisers aren’t yet utilizing this option, they’re ignoring a major ROI opportunity.

To yield the biggest return, however, brands need to become more acquainted with next-generation advertising, especially in the form of interactive content options. Consumers are continuing to shift their focus to digital content, and as a result, the consumer mindset is changing. Interactive content provides the ideal opportunity for brands to directly engage with their audiences by giving the consumer the choice of what ad to watch, quiz to play or prize to win, advertisers and brands can increase their chances of consumer retention. This has been done by companies such as YouTube by utilizing location elements, which allow consumers to enroll in services directly or receive informational e-mails from brands they’re interested in.

By giving target audiences the option to engage, or not engage, with ads, advertisers are given direct insights into the success of their messaging, allowing them to better discern the interests of their target audiences. This strategy can also help brands to stand out amongst the noise of other digital ads, as well as serve as a welcome break from the kinds of advertisements that consumers have seen time and time again.

As we enter 2019, how do you see the streaming industry evolving? What trends should we watch out for?

Throughout 2018, we’ve seen tech giants and media conglomerates — from Walmart and FOX to Comcast — launch their own unique platforms and partake in major M&As. According to recent research, however, half of consumers using streaming services aren’t willing to pay more than $1-20 per month on live content subscriptions — and more than one in six would be willing to switch platforms for an alternative with a better live option. As a result, in 2019, there will be an emphasis on the availability of real-time, interactive content from these platforms and those with the best technology will prevail, while the remaining platforms will need to evolve or else they won’t survive in the cut-throat market.

What’s one piece of advice to all the CEOs and leaders in your community?

Do your research. The number of streaming platforms to choose from can be overwhelming, but by evaluating each streaming service’s audience demographics, back-end technology and other unique offerings such as options for offering interactive, real-time content, organizations can set themselves up for success and become flexible with the changing desires and needs of the modern content viewer.

Thank you for answering all our questions!

Dr. Stefan Birrer is the co-founder and CEO of Phenix. He is an entrepreneur and software architect with extensive experience in designing and developing complex real-time applications. Under his leadership, Phenix delivers unparalleled viewing experiences with near-zero latency, at enterprise scale and superb quality.

He is a thought leader in real-time video for broadcast use cases and an expert in research and development of distributed streaming technologies. In prior ventures, he has lead real-time communication projects from idea to market at large large and early stage companies alike.

Dr. Birrer received his M.S. and PhD from Northwestern University with focus on scalable live video streaming. He is the author of more than a dozen peer-reviewed papers and patents.

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Chicago-based Phenix Real Time Solutions is a leading provider of global real-time IP video solutions. We offer an end-to-end solution by capturing signals from the source and handle encoding, ingest, transcoding, composition and content delivery to any device. Phenix is the only company that can deliver content to broadcast sized audiences while maintaining less than 1/2 second of latency.

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