Getting Personal With VOD Digital program insertion (DPI) has pretty much hit the mainstream now that most large cable operators have become fully engaged with their digital simulcast deployments, but there’s still another hurdle on the horizon for DPI. The next frontier for DPI is inserting fresh ads into the video-on-demand environment. In the old model, ads were loaded in the VOD content several weeks in advance before the content was made available, but the holy grail now is to provide more personalized ads in the ever increasing on demand environment. There were recent several announcements on this front, including one last month by Comcast Spotlight, which is the advertising sales division for Comcast Cable, and Tandberg Television. Using Tandberg’s AdPoint platform, the goal is to insert ads initially into content on Comcast VOD networks such as SuccessTV, Music Spy Videos and DriverTV, with plans to eventually expand to additional on demand content. Current VOD ads not timely With ads being currently being "baked" into content ahead of time, advertisers and programmers are limited to running more evergreen type ads and aren’t able to include more timely material. "Today’s technology is redefining how media and advertising will ultimately be delivered to consumers, and AdPoint (which is a combination of software and hardware) is a key component for us to enable that delivery," said Paul Woidke, Comcast Spotlight’s vice president of technology, in a press release. "The ability to manage both content and distribution is a major competitive differentiator, and having the technology components to do this helps to keep us one step ahead." Two VOD ad models Comcast, Adelphia and Charter were part of C-Cor‘s DPI press release last month. Charter will be using C-Cor’s ad insertion solution for its first addressable advertising trial this year. Charter’s Pragash Pillai, VP Advanced Engineering for Digital Video, said there are two common approaches for VOD advertising. One of these methods is called "telescoping."
"Telescoping is where you’re watching a channel and you get a banner or trigger up on your screen," He said. "There’s a brief intro to the ad, and if you want more information, you click on an icon. When you click on the icon, it transfers you to a VOD platform, and now the long form plays out over the server."
"The switching of the ad from the banner to the VOD server requires a thin client in the set-top box, and the ad is played out of the VOD server similar to a VOD session. It’s pretty straightforward." The other method for VOD advertising creates a more personalized approach when customers opt in to provide information. The playlist concept works with the existing VOD business management system (BMS), system resource manager (SRM), and element managment system ( EMS) by adding what Pillai calls the "ad decision system" and the "enforcer system." "The ad decision system is responsible for associating the advertisement with the programming," Pillai said. "It will tell you what ad is supposed to play with what content. The enforcer system is responsible for making sure that the decision made by the ad decision system has been enforced effectively. It’s essentially software that is doing all of this functionality." When an ad comes in from a broadcast company, empty spots are placed in front of and behind the video asset when it’s encoded, according to Pillai. A video metadata identifies the spot, and the enforcer populates the spot, or triggering location, with the advertisement from the ad decision system. "I can actually customize the playlist by knowing the user by having some data gathered," he said. "It becomes a customized playlist like an iPod playlist." "The nice thing about this is that everything is done on the VOD server, so you don’t need to have an additional system to splice ads, which is much more complicated on the linear side. With this system, we’re leveraging existing infrastructure with the addition of some software." Pillai said Charter "will have something this year" on the playlist front for VOD addressable advertising. Charter is also looking at what level of granularity will work best with personalized ads. In theory, ads could be replaced every 30 minutes, but that would require a much more robust backend system in order to do so, and the return may not be that much greater than replacing them every other day. "Eventually it’s (addressable advertising) going to look like the Internet model," Pillai said. "When you go to Google and do a search, a search engine populates those (ad) spots, but the ad you see is not the ad I see. They populate them on the fly based on some mathematics and IP addresses." Ad revenues bolster VOD platform One of the benefits to addressable advertising in the VOD world is that it would provide a revenue stream for the free content. Late last year, Comcast passed the 1 billion mark for programs viewed with its VOD streams, and with a footprint of more than 21 million homes, the new advertising model would open the floodgates for VOD revenues. A recent report said customers may not want to pay for each piece of video content piecemeal, instead preferring a monthly subscription that lets them get all of the movies. "That doesn’t really give us a good payback immediately, so in my mind we need advertising as a piece to support some of the VOD capital," Pillai said. "In my mind, ads will have some role in subsidizing the VOD platform." Mike Robuck

The Daily



Cox is the second traditional MVPD to make discovery+ available for purchase to customers across its platform. The streamer is available on Cox Contour 2 and the Contour Stream Player. Comcast launched

Read the Full Issue
The Skinny is delivered on Tuesday and focuses on the cable profession. You'll stay in the know on the headlines, topics and special issues you value most. Sign Up


Dec 7
Most Powerful Women Celebration Register to Join Us in NYC to Celebrate!
Full Calendar


Seeking an INDUSTRY JOB?

Hiring? In conjunction with our sister brand, Cynopsis, we are offering hiring managers a deep pool of media-savvy, skilled candidates at a range of experience levels and sectors, The result will be an even more robust industry job board, to help both employers and job seekers.

Contact for more information.