Late last week, video search and recommendation technology provider Digitalsmiths quietly introduced its "Seamless Discovery" platform, targeted to pay-TV operators, consumer electronics companies and content producers who want to deliver highly relevant recommendations to their users. The platform addresses the urgent problem that users are fragmenting their viewing over multiple devices where the discovery experience is inconsistent and lacking (I covered these issues in a webinar just last week).
In a phone briefing, Digitalsmiths' CEO Ben Weinberger explained that a key differentiator for Seamless Discovery is that it draws from multiple data sets in order to provide recommendations, resulting in improved relevance. At the core is metadata Digitalsmiths creates on the programming available from the pay-TV operator, CE device or content owner. For pay-TV operators specifically, this involves ingesting full schedule information from sources like Tribune Media Services. This metadata is mapped with contextual and behavioral data and "social graph" information from Facebook along with other inputs. The system learns over time from the choices the user makes which of these factors is most relevant, tweaking future recommendations accordingly.
Importantly, content types and sources can be blended, with recommendations surfaced across sources. So for example, if a pay-TV operator wanted to expose choices from Netflix, Hulu or Amazon alongside its own linear or VOD choices (as Charter said last week it would start doing), a user's single search for a TV program or movie would surface results from all sources, a bit comparable to how TiVo's Universal Swivel Search works. How the results are ordered or highlighted can be customized based on business rules (e.g. VOD selections are shown first, then come the others).
Initially Ben sees Seamless Discovery being deployed as an augment to existing guides and other navigation, in order to improve the experience of VOD or other services. When it is proven in on there, it might then expand to serve whole services. Several customers are currently trialing Seamless Discovery but Ben wasn't able to provide details yet.
With content choices exploding along with the devices on which to view them, discovery and recommendations are a holy grail opportunity. Technology providers that can deliver high-quality results which drive viewership and satisfaction will be extremely valuable.
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