After writing last week about a couple of local businesses giving consumers control over the ads they watch, I heard an interesting rebuttal from the guys at Limelight Networks, an Arizona company with an office in Framingham, that does the opposite: helping content publishers stay in charge.
“Without monetization there isn’t any content,” chief marketing officer Kirby Wadsworth reminded me. “You can’t do all the production that’s required without somehow getting paid, and advertising is one important way to do that.”
My earlier piece focused on Lincoln entrepreneur Rich Theriault, who has developed a device that synchs with a mobile app and automatically changes the channel when a live sporting event goes to commercial break, then returns as soon as the action resumes. I also wrote about Boston startup Visible Measures, which plants commercial videos next to related content on websites like YouTube, in hopes that viewers will actually choose to watch ads about products that interest them.
Limelight questions whether models that essentially offer free content and the option to skip ads are sustainable.
“And at end of the day, most customers understand that free content means providers have to make money somehow, so they tolerate ads,” said Edgardo Nazario, Limelight’s senior vice president for product management.
Limelight’s online video platform lets content publishers—including Yahoo! and the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs—dictate whether viewers can or cannot skip ads in streaming video.
Still, the company recognizes that people’s tolerance is limited. That’s why one popular Limelight feature is a player that adjusts to the viewer’s Internet connection speed. If a viewer waits forever for a video to load, then has to wait even longer for a commercial to play, she might leave the site altogether. Rather than risk losing a viewer, Limelight can skip the ad when buffering is delayed.
“We’re trying to strike that balance between not annoying you and also needing to monetize content,” Nazario said.