T3Media has integrated its cloud-based T3 Library Manager content management solution with Amazon Web Services (AWS), so that common clients can seamlessly connect to their Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier accounts. Mark Lemmons, T3Media's CTO, explained to me that the company's content provider clients gain a new level of scale and control over their storage and compute resources with the Amazon integration.
Taboola, which now serves 3 billion video and article recommendations per day across a wide network of publisher sites, is unveiling "Taboola Choice" this morning. Taboola Choice allows users to proactively filter out unwanted video and article recommendations, so that these will not be seen on any publisher sites which are subsequently visited. By adding this feedback loop, Taboola's recommendations become more precise over time, resulting in a better user experience and more efficiency for both content providers and publishers.
Startup Cognitive Networks has announced that its Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology has been integrated by LG, making it the first big Smart TV manufacturer to deliver "enhanced TV" experiences.
As Michael Collette, CEO of Cognitive explained to me in a recent briefing, the company makes Smart TVs aware of what content is being displayed on screen instead of being "blind" as they currently are. Cognitive's ACR works by packaging pixel map information from the screen and sending it to the cloud where it is compared to an index of known fingerprints. The resulting data is fed in real time via Cognitive's "ENGAGE" API back to the Smart TV so that app providers can provide interactive experiences to viewers.
A viewer finds an online video, clicks play and increasingly, expects a TV-like experience. Hundreds of millions of times per day around the world, this sequence of events happens, and it's only growing in frequency. While surging demand is great for the overall ecosystem, network providers / broadband ISPs are continually struggling to keep up with spiraling traffic, pressed to invest in their networks to create more capacity while still maintaining a strong ROI.
Therefore, any incremental improvement in networks' efficiency in delivering video traffic can quickly add up to huge cost savings, and that's exactly what Qwilt, which has raised another $16 million (led by Bessemer Venture Partners and bringing to $40 million total raised to date), does. Qwilt is in the "transparent caching" business, with networks deploying the company's software solution on off-the-shelf hardware at the edge of their networks to deliver the thin slice of most-frequently viewed video to their users.
Beachfront Media, which last month announced its Beachfront.iO mobile video ad platform, is introducing a new interactive video unit, enabling features to drive deeper brand engagement (see samples here). Advertisers can select up to 4 different calls to action to add to their pre-roll ad, including Facebook/Twitter links, click-to-call buttons, map-it functions and links to app store for further downloads and others. A "skinned final screen" is also available for enhanced branding.
Topics: Beachfront Builder
IRIS.TV is officially launching its SmartStreaming product to help content providers drive more video views per viewer. SmartStreaming plugs into online video platforms so they can offer their content customers thumbs up/down and skip buttons in their video players, giving viewers more control over their video experiences. As they engage with these buttons, SmartStreaming learns their preferences and presents subsequent recommended videos.
The first OVPs that have integrated SmartStreaming are Brightcove, Kaltura and Unicorn Media. Field Garthwaite, CEO told me in a briefing that SmartStreaming is also compatible with thePlatform and JW Player from LongTail Video.
I'm pleased to present the 184th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week we discuss the cloud's impact on video delivery. First, I share thoughts on Comcast's X2 platform, unveiled this week, in which the cloud plays a central role.
Colin notes that with Comcast's approach, there is still a fair amount of client-side processing happening, so it's not fully capitalizing on the cloud just yet. Colin draws a distinction between Comcast's approach and that of ActiveVideo Networks (which I recently wrote about), whose CloudTV moves all the processing to the cloud, allowing services to run on older set-top boxes and newer CE devices.
It's still early days in the cloud's deployment with different models at work, but there's no question it's going to become a bigger part of the video delivery landscape.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 43 seconds)
At its Video Publisher Forum in NYC, LiveRail announced new features for its publisher-side video monetization tools. LiveRail has integrated Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) into its LiveRail Publisher Suite, so that publishers can obtain Nielsen metrics on current campaigns each night. There is also an "OCR Planner" which lets publishers gauge the value of their inventory in Nielsen audience terms. This helps publishers better target ad campaigns to their inventory.
At the Cable Show yesterday, Comcast's CEO Brian Roberts showed off "X2," the latest generation of its cloud-based X1 entertainment platform. Beyond a slew of UI improvements, X2 offers at least three things that are very important and I believe, indicative of key future trends in video delivery: cloud-based DVR, an inexpensive IP set-top box and a unified cross-platform experience.
Digitalsmiths is taking video metadata to the next level, unveiling its Unified Data Service, a one-stop shop for pay-TV providers to access multiple, pre-integrated data feeds.
Digitalsmiths CEO and co-founder Ben Weinberger explained to me last week that as pay-TV operators have rolled out their own on-demand services and video apps, they're striving to make them as rich as possible. This includes adding the kind of related data (e.g. actor, cast info, schedules, merchandise, etc.) and social tools (e.g. Twitter/Facebook feeds, etc.) that are commonly found in entertainment-oriented web sites and apps.
If you've recently visited the guide provided by your pay-TV operator, chances are you were pretty underwhelmed. Never known for its usability, the typical guide increasingly looks like a relic from another age, as rich apps and online video services have continued to raise the bar on program discovery.
One company looking to change all of this is ActiveVideo Networks, which leverages cloud-based processing to deliver sophisticated HTML5 experiences to even the most humble, low-end digital set-top boxes. The result is a pivotal change in bringing pay-TV providers' guides up to par, cost-effectively and with low operational impact. Late last week, ActiveVideo gained momentum for its approach, announcing that big U.S. cable operators Charter and Cablevision are using its "CloudTV H5" platform for cloud-based UI and interactive applications, respectively, and that Sumitomo will help roll out the platform in Japan and Asia.
Topics: ActiveVideo Networks
Live streaming is continuing to get a lot of mind share these days from both content providers and technology companies. The latest example in the latter category is Brightcove, which yesterday introduced in beta the Brightcove Video Cloud Live, a module to support live streaming across multiple devices.
A key part of Video Cloud Live is the recently announced Brightcove Zencoder Live Transcoding service, which provides live transcoding as a scalable API. This obviates the need for content providers to purchase and maintain their own hardware for encoding live events. This in turn reduces cost and complexity of running live events, making them far more feasible to offer to viewers. The Zencoder service also produces multiple adaptive bitrate streams so that users on various devices get the right stream for them.
Following is a contributed post by Frank Sinton who is the CEO and founder of Beachfront Media, a video solutions platform for publishers, advertisers, and enterprises. Previously, he worked for Sony Pictures Entertainment as executive director of architecture.
Video Apps, Devices, and Fragmentation: How to Navigate the Maze
by Frank Sinton
Fragmentation has long been an issue in the mobile industry. Even with the advent of the smartphone era, it’s still a problem. Take these stats from a recent report by app analytics company Flurry:
"Suppose you’re an app developer who wants to ensure that your app is optimized to function well on 80% of the individual connected devices currently in use (e.g., my iPad, your Windows phone). How many different device models (e.g., Kindle Fire HD 8.9" Wi-Fi, Galaxy S III) do you think you need to support? 156. Maybe you’re okay with having your app optimized for only 60% of active devices. That still means that you need to support 37 different devices. Even getting to 50% means supporting 18 devices, as shown below. If you’re a large or particularly thorough app developer, reaching 90% of active devices will require supporting 331 different models."
Topics: Beachfront Builder
Traditionally most online video has been on-demand, but recently that has begun to change with more live events delivered online all the time. The trend has been driven primarily by sports, news and music, but other categories like entertainment are also following along.
For content providers, live presents numerous new workflow complexities vs. on-demand in areas such as encoding, ad insertion, stream management, metadata, device support, etc. To address this complexity and try to streamline workflows, thePlatform is today introducing a single web-based console in its mpx platform that can handle key tasks including signal acquisition and encoding via an integration with Elemental (so encoding can be managed within the console), dynamic ad insertion and metadata creation plus archiving to VOD for replays.
Getting a branded video to go hugely viral is like catching lightning in a bottle - it's hard to predict and very rare. But a viral video's huge branding benefits through free, or so-called "earned media" impressions, makes it extremely appealing.
Now Visible Measures, which has been tracking video viewership across devices for years, and Publicis Groupe's VivaKi and Starcom MediaVest have developed a planning tool called CONTAGION that uses data to help brands and agencies actually plan for how viral a branded video campaign could be. CONTAGION is launching today for use by Publicis Groupe agencies for a year before becoming available to the broader market.
Grab Media, which has been at the forefront of what I've called the "Syndicated Video Economy," is gaining traction with its recently-released "GrabPress" video plug-in for the WordPress content management system. GrabPress allows publishers of any size using WordPress to quickly customize and embed a feed of video from Grab Media' s ever-growing catalog of 500K+ video clips directly into their web pages. Grab Press has been downloaded 3,500 times to date.
Grab executives recently explained to me that while the company's core mission of connecting video providers with a distribution network of publishers remains the same, the mechanism for doing so has changed significantly over the past year. The big driver of this is that advertisers have become reluctant to place video ads against syndicated video content showing up in right column 300x250 units. As such, Grab has sought, with GrabPress, to enable video content to be more contextually integrated with publishers' own content.
I'm pleased to share the final 3 video interviews that I did at NABShow 2013 today. Below you will find interviews with Kevin Norris, president and CEO, Brevity, Dustin Encelewski, Director of Product Marketing, Elemental Technologies and Tim Street, VP, Mobile Video, mDialog. All of the interviews are in the final player at bottom.
The cloud continues to create more flexibility in both video production and distribution, with the latest example being "Reach Engine Stage," a video/media management system that allows producers at multiple sites to collaborate more efficiently. Reach Engine Stage was developed by Levels Beyond, a privately-held company based in Denver with deep roots in video workflows.
At the NABShow, Levels Beyond's co-found Danny Gold stopped by the VideoNuze booth to explain Reach Engine Stage and give more background on the company. Levels Beyond has been low-key, but recently raised a round of funding and is now used by a number of major media companies for their online video workflows.
Topics: Levels Beyond
LiveU, which pioneered the bonding of cellular broadband cards to enable flexible live mobile broadcasting, has gained a huge following among TV networks and stations. Now it has introduced a new, even lighter-weight backpack unit that enables any content provider - no matter how small - to affordably become a live mobile broadcaster.
At the recent NABShow, Ken Zamkow, director of sales and marketing for LiveU, brought one of the new backpacks, the LU40-2 ("LU40 squared") by the VideoNuze booth and showed it off. It weighs less than 10 pounds and is very compact, allowing up to 13 cellular channels and controllable through a smartphone interface.
Last week at the NABShow I did a short video interview with Kurt Michel, Akamai's director of product marketing - media solutions. Akamai has always been known primarily as a content delivery network, but as Kurt explains, it is broadening its positioning to become an online media platform.
Akamai is responding to what it is hearing from its media customers, that they're experiencing unprecedented challenges given the proliferation of devices, formats, networks and bandwidth variability. As a result, Akamai has expanded beyond delivery to also offer content preparation and workflow solutions under its Sola Vision branding.