Today’s discerning consumer of video content expects to watch TV wherever and whenever they want. On top of that, advertisers, who sponsor a large percentage of the programming content, are demanding better advertising capabilities from pay-TV service providers. They have expectations of improved audience, campaign management and measurement tools that will allow them to reduce waste by optimizing ad campaigns and targeting audiences that they are specifically interested in. All of these factors lead us to the mantra of an enlightened TV age: “Monetize TV anytime, anywhere,” and the intersection of new TV delivery platforms with the ability to drive advertising with data and analytics is the how we get there. Understanding the technology that makes this possible requires understanding how the monetization of many pay-TV delivery channels can be unified through a converged video architecture.
Due to the nature of how each TV delivery platform functions, there are inherent differences in how the latest episode of your favorite show is distributed and appears on the screen that’s in front of you. Being able to “monetize TV anytime, anywhere” requires each of these platforms, which have been historically treated as independent siloes, to have a consistent set of ad insertion and measurement capabilities. Because of this, any converged video architecture has to be able to normalize the discrete operations implemented by each TV delivery platform and represent them in a consistent, coherent interface. For example, the Ad Router in BlackArrow Central provides this normalization layer. Providing a single access point for the ad control plane, the Ad Router accepts ad requests from various platforms normalizing numerous incarnations of standardized interfaces such as SCTE 130, as well as providing access to IAB VAST based ad servers.
The ad decision process, regardless of which TV delivery platform is involved, often requires additional metadata beyond what is provided in the initial ad request. In this case, the Ad Router utilizes the Subscriber Information Service (SIS), Content Information Service (CIS) and Placement Opportunity Information Service (POIS) to decorate the request with subscriber metadata, content metadata and opportunity definition and ownership metadata respectively.
Now that the Ad Router knows who is watching, what they’re watching and what needs to be decided upon, calls are made to determine what specific ads should be shown. This can be through any ADS using standardized interfaces such as SCTE 130 or IAB VAST. Once the ad responses are delivered from the ad server, the Ad Router constructs a unified response and delivers that back to the TV delivery platform for execution. Measurement is generated by the TV delivery platforms in various ways, each particular to its own environment. This measurement data is then reported back to the Ad Router, which in turn delivers it back to the ad decision systems responsible for making the ad decision.
Given the multitude of delivery platforms and permutations of ad servers, orchestration of the ad control plane is critical to breaking down a pay-TV service provider’s ad inventory siloes. This normalization layer provides a holistic approach to monetizing content across all viewing platforms, while giving the pay-TV service provider the freedom to pick and choose the best-in-class technologies. We have seen that a proven, scalable converged video architecture lets the pay-TV service provider rise above the challenges of multi-platform video integration and allows them to focus on the business side of monetization. It also means more relevant ads for consumers and cross-platform, addressable ads for advertisers. In the end, this architecture has a little something for everyone.