Here's a great example of how robust the cloud has now become: thePlatform, a leading online video publishing company, is announcing a new "Virtual TV Framework" today, that allows pay-TV operators to deliver their FULL linear and on-demand services via the cloud, to any connected/mobile device. Until now, pay-TV operators have mostly offered only VOD or a limited set of linear channels as part of their TV Everywhere initiatives. Now the new Virtual TV Framework will allow them to replicate ALL of their services for cloud-based delivery.
Why does this matter? Because cloud-delivery makes it easier for pay-TV operators to enhance their subscribers' experience with existing services and to develop new ones, while also reducing delivery costs. It's no secret that the landscape for video services has become much more competitive with the advent of innovative OTT options from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and others, so consumers are expecting more from their pay-TV operators. As well, given the high price of pay-TV service, delivering more value has become a key industry priority - this is the essential role of TV Everywhere.
Adobe is announcing today that Turner Broadcasting is its latest customer of Adobe Primetime, the company's multi-screen TV Everywhere and monetization solution. Turner will be using Primetime to power TNT and TBS apps and web sites, along with the Primetime player and dynamic ad insertion, PayTV Pass authentication and Primetime DRM.
Jeremy Helfand, VP Adobe Video Solutions, told me that until now Turner had been using a combination of home-grown and point product solutions, which are being replaced with the Primetime suite. Turner has been the earliest and staunchest supporter of TV Everywhere among cable TV networks, going back 4+ years to the high-profile joint news conference with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, announcing the initiative.
Video ad tech provider Videology is unveiling "Revenue Engine" today, a new product for video publishers to drive premium programmatic ad revenues. Scott Ferber, Videology's chairman and CEO, told me last week that although the vast majority of Videology's business is servicing the demand side (agencies and advertisers), it is expanding its supply side technology offerings to help video publishers gain equal footing in the booming online video ad market.
In our discussion Scott emphasized one particular feature of Revenue Engine - the ability for publishers to do scenario modeling of different variables in order to gain recommendations for optimal inventory pricing. The system works by including available inventory, prior performance data, buy-side criteria and other factors such as minimum pricing requirements.
AOL held its first "Programmatic Upfront" tonight, bringing together a packed house of agencies and brands to hear multiple executives and guest speakers pound home a double message that data and automation are poised to revolutionize advertising, just as they have done on Wall Street. From a purely news standpoint, AOL announced 3 specific things:
1. Clients will be able to buy reserved premium AOL inventory programmatically through the company's AdLearn Open Platform (AOP) beginning January 1, 2014.
2. Major agencies including Accuen, Amnet, Havas Media, Horizon Media and Magna Global have all made programmatic commitments for 2014 (sizes not disclosed), with DigitasLBi, Razorfish and VivaKi considering.
3. New features in AOP including real-time bidding through private marketplaces, cross-screen inventory buying with frequency and optimization, and availability of all ad units for programmatic buying.
Jivox has announced that its interactive video ad platform Jivox IQ now supports content marketing and data driven feeds, both of which can dynamically update ads in real-time. As Diaz Nesamoney explained to me, both are meant to deliver ads that are more timely and relevant to users, across different ad formats and on multiple devices.
Diaz noted that content marketing, which has become a huge industry theme, blurs the line between ads and editorial. With Jivox's new content marketing features, advertisers are able to update their ads/content continuously while their campaigns are underway. The benefit is that ads can change without the traditional step of changing tags. These updated content streams work in 45+ different ad units, such as pre-rolls, display, mobile, etc.
I'm pleased to present the 196th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Colin was at the big IBC event in Amsterdam last week and today we discuss 3 of his key themes: how Amazon Web Services (AWS) has become deeply immersed in the online video industry, the rollout of HEVC (high efficiency video coding) plus 4K TV, and the prevalence of multi-screen video solutions.
Colin explains how AWS has succeeded in online video, particularly with cloud-based transcoding that leverage its elastic computing resources. This is a theme I hear repeatedly as well and wrote about recently with T3Media's integration with AWS.
Colin then discusses how HEVC is rolling out, but notes continued industry reservations about 4K TV. Last, Colin observes that multi-screen video solutions were on display everywhere at IBC. With the rise of mobile phones, tablets and connected TV devices, multi-screen has become mainstream. One thing Colin notes was nowhere to be found at IBC was 3D, which he views as now dead on arrival.
Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 2 seconds)
SpotXchange has announced its publisher-side programmatic video ad platform today. Mike Shehan, SpotXchange's CEO told me that key differentiators are strong transparency, improved yield management and deal management controls. Mike said that video syndicator NDN (#6 ranked property by comScore in July) has been using the platform exclusively since the summer and has seen a big boost in its yields.
With the SpotXchange platform, publishers are able to expose and manage select inventory to all demand-side sources such as ad networks, demand side platforms (DSPs), agency trading desks and the SpotXchange marketplace. Mike said numerous features are aimed at alleviating publishers' traditional concerns that programmatic creates possible channel conflict with direct sales efforts.
Interactive video advertising provider Innovid, and technology giant Cisco have unveiled a new partnership today at IBC meant to deliver interactive, contextual video ads to second screens.
As Innovid's CEO and co-founder Zvika Netter explained to me, the proof-of-concepts at IBC show how Innovid taps in, via API, to a Cisco-powered metadata stream associated with a pay-TV operator's services to TVs and second screen apps. The metadata allows Innovid to deliver interactive iRoll ads to the second screen apps that are synched with ads that are running on TV. A second proof-of-concept also shows this done by location. Second screen apps from pay-TV providers have become a key priority as part of their TV Everywhere initiatives.
Ooyala is showing a new mosaic player, giving viewers the option to watch up to 5 live or on-demand video streams simultaneously. The company has also released its Q2 2013 Global Video Index, with new data reinforcing the growth of mobile and tablet video.
The mosaic player (see screen shot below) will first be available on the desktop, and subsequently will roll out on tablets, smartphones and connected devices. Ooyala's director of products Sudhir Kaushik showed it to me last week and explained it is mainly intended for sports broadcasters looking to provide multiple camera angles and/or sports fans trying to watch multiple games at once. Sudhir touted the increased monetization opportunities that the mosaic player creates, as well as the personalization for users. All of Ooyala's analytics are included in the mosaic player.
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