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Packet Vision Advanced IPTV Advertising Solution – A Real ...
Packet Vision Advanced IPTV Advertising Solution – A Real ...
Packet Vision Advanced IPTV Advertising Solution – A Real ...
Packet Vision Advanced IPTV Advertising Solution – A Real ...
Packet Vision Advanced IPTV Advertising Solution – A Real ...
Packet Vision Advanced IPTV Advertising Solution – A Real ...
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Packet Vision Advanced IPTV Advertising Solution – A Real ...


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  • 1. Packet Vision Advanced IPTV Advertising Solution – A Real World Example Introduction Packet Vision is a UK-based technology company providing advanced advertising solutions and services to TV channels, IPTV network operators, and systems integrators worldwide. By integrating the Packet Vision solution into both the TV channels’ head-end and the IPTV network, advertisers can place ads into linear (broadcast) TV commercial breaks and target specific geographic and demographic audiences. Probably the best way to understand how this is achieved is to look at a real world example: Project4. In mid-2007 Packet Vision teamed up with Inuk Networks – a UK-based IPTV network operator now part of Utah-based Move Networks – and Channel 4 – the second largest commercial TV channel in the UK – to enable brand advertisers to advertise specifically to university students in the UK; a valuable 18 – 24 year old demographic. In addition to making the system work technically, a successful business model was constructed which allowed the advertising revenues to be shared between Channel 4, Inuk and Packet Vision. Traditional advertising in broadcast TV Before explaining how Packet Vision’s solution fits into this environment it is worth describing the traditional ad sales and delivery chain from advertiser to viewer. A simplified diagram highlighting the work and revenue flows is shown in figure 1. A brand advertiser will typically hire an ad agency to handle all its TV advertising. An account team dedicated to that advertiser will develop and manage all aspects of the ad campaign, often subcontracting out the actual creative part to a separate group or even a separate creative agency. Once the details of the campaign have been worked out and the actual ads have been produced, the ad agency will place them with selected TV channels, often using the services of a media buyer to negotiate with the TV ad sales house. In parallel with this commercial activity the ad copy is released to the TV channel for input into their system ready for broadcast. All TV channels have sophisticated broadcast automation systems which control the video servers and tape players (play-out systems) that output all the audio and video (the TV ‘signal’) that ultimately appears on the viewer’s TV set. This TV signal is then streamed to the different network operators – cable, satellite, terrestrial, etc – who distribute it to their customers. Despite the technology becoming more and more sophisticated the TV industry has used this same general approach for more than fifty years. However, while it is well tried and tested, the delivery mechanism does not lend itself to targeting. To target ads to different audiences would require the play-out systems to generate many more streams (one for every audience on every TV channel); the distribution network capacity would have to be significantly increased; and the broadcast automation and ad sales systems would need to go to new levels of sophistication. All would require considerable expense and disruption with a long delay before return on the investment. Copyright © 2009 Packet Vision Limited Strictly confidential
  • 2. Advertiser $$$ Ad agency $ $ Media buyer Creative agency $ Ad copy Ad sales TV broadcaster Playout system Programme content TV network operator Figure 1: Advertiser to viewer in a typical broadcast TV Copyright © 2009 Packet Vision Limited Strictly confidential
  • 3. Packet Vision’s solution offers a different approach. It incorporates three separate pieces of hardware and software technology: the PV1000, a hardware platform to store and insert the ads; the traffic management system (TMS), a software tool to manage the ad sales and delivery process; and the play-out monitor, a server-based application which links the TV channel’s broadcast automation system with the video encoder to mark the times of the commercial breaks. All three are internet protocol (IP) based technologies and use the inherent flexibility of IPTV networks to provide the ad insertion much closer to the viewer and thereby reduce the bandwidth requirements of the network. Moreover, by implementing a TMS as a web application, the work associated with setting up and managing ad campaigns can be detached from the complex systems currently embedded in the ad sales departments of the TV channels. This considerably reduces disruption to the existing systems. Project4: Targeted advertising on Channel 4 over the Freewire network Inuk Networks provides a ‘free’ television service – Freewire - to about 160,000 students in 48 universities across the UK. The television signal is carried using IPTV over the Joint Academic Network – JANET. Packet Vision has installed into this the PV1000; a compact, low cost appliance that amalgamates in one box all the functions to do ad insertion in the network: storage of the TV ads; seamless insertion into a live TV stream (replacing the original ads); routing the resulting streams to the correct destinations (the viewers’ set top boxes); and managing the delivery process as autonomously as possible. Because the PV1000 is designed to work exclusively in an IP environment it can generate different versions of the same signal - each carrying different ads - and target them to different addressable locations. See figure 2. Before the PV1000 can replace ad breaks with other ads it needs a crucial piece of information not normally provided within the TV signal in Europe: the exact location of the ad breaks in the content. Developed originally for US cable TV, a method exists whereby the streams carrying the signal can be invisibly ‘marked’ by messages called ad-avail markers or cue-tones. It is essential that the markers are placed accurately so that, when an ad sequence is replaced, the viewer is completely unaware it has happened. While many encoders will perform the operation of placing these markers they still need to be triggered by an external system as they have no intrinsic mechanism for identifying the start of the ad breaks themselves. Packet Vision created the play-out monitor to provide this trigger function. It is a server-based system that collects the run-time scheduling information from Channel 4’s broadcast automation system, analyses it and then computes the exact time that the next commercial break will start. This works in conjunction with an IP encoder (in this case a Tandberg EN8030) which encodes the live video coming from Channel 4’s play-out system. At a precise time before the commercial break begins – the pre-roll time – the play-out monitor signals to the encoder that an ad marker has to be inserted. The encoder then automatically pre-conditions the video and sets the marker in the stream. These markers, often known as SCTE35 after the standard that defines them, stay absolutely synchronized to the video as they are transported over a wide area network. Managing the ad schedules Instead of the ad copy being sent by the creative agency to Channel 4 it is sent to Packet Vision where it is reformatted to be compatible with the other content on Inuk’s network and stored in the TMS. This application runs on one of Packet Vision’s Apache servers and handles the setting up and editing of ad campaigns; scheduling ad spots into commercial breaks; managing the distribution of the ad copy to the PV1000; and, finally, collecting the ‘as-run’ data - the reports used for measurement and billing - from the PV1000. This as-run data is then processed with the channel change records collected by Inuk to give a very accurate measurement of the actual viewer numbers for every ad played out. More and more, the advertisers and ad agencies are demanding this type of information. Because Packet Vision has control of the TMS it plays a pivotal role in the whole business model. By maintaining control of all the ad-scheduling and report collection Packet Vision is the logical centre for revenue collection and distribution. Copyright © 2009 Packet Vision Limited Strictly confidential
  • 4. Advertiser $$$ Ad agency $ $ Creative agency Ad copy Packet Vision Packet Vision $ Manage ad Traffic management system scheduling Channel 4 Playout system $ Tandberg encoder Packet Vision playout monitor Ad avail markers embedded in video Inuk Networks Packet Vision PV1000 Figure 2: Targeted advertising on Channel 4 over the Freewire network Copyright © 2009 Packet Vision Limited Strictly confidential
  • 5. The way forward Since October 2008 Packet Vision has been replacing standard broadcast ads – entire commercial breaks - with ads that are shown to all students on the Freewire service. So far, 62 ad campaigns promoting 31 different brands have been successfully run for 14 different media agencies; with a further 20 planned or in the immediate pipeline. The advertisers covered range from banks and companies recruiting graduates to fast food outlets, PC games vendors, condoms and radio stations. Packet Vision technology has also powered the first targeted IPTV ad campaign allowing a sports goods manufacturer to direct different ads to different universities according to their involvement in a nationwide sporting competition. Later in 2009 the next phases will be implemented to enable advertisers to target by gender, location and coursework, and then to integrate phone and “click-thru” creative to enable interactivity between TV, online and VoIP phones. It is also planned to apply this business / technology model elsewhere with discussions progressing with Telefonica and the main TV channels Antena3, Telecinco and Cuatro in Spain; and TeliaSonera, Telenor Bredbandsbolaget, plus the TV channels TV3 and TV4 in Sweden. In these and other markets the business model will be scaled by using the broadcasters’ own ad sales departments to handle the selling of the advertising. Equally, in the US and elsewhere, opportunities exist for Packet Vision to license all or part of its technology to large systems integrators, service providers and telcos. The core software of PV1000 has now been ported onto an open Intel Architecture and this will allow its integrated ad storage, splicing and routing functionality to be made available on the commodity hardware platforms of many other manufacturers; again, using the advantages of these companies’ size and reach to scale up our business. The added advantage is that, by targeting the new Intel Xeon 5500 (Nehalem) platforms, Packet Vision can now provide a complete ad delivery platform – the Ad Delivery Management server (ADM) - in a single 1RU enclosure capable of splicing ads into as many as 150 H.264 streams simultaneously; a performance that makes it the best in its class. Beyond this, Packet Vision is incorporating standard interfaces such as SCTE130 and SCTE118 into the platform. These will allow it to be controlled by third party Ad Decision Systems (ADS) such as TandbergTV’s AdPoint, BlackArrow, Microsoft Atlas or Invidi; or with the TV channels’ broadcast management and air-time sales systems from vendors such as Harris Corp, Pilat Media, Sintec Media or S4M. Packet Vision is also extending the capabilities of the delivery platform at the network level. PV1000 already supports the proprietary RTP extensions for Instant Channel Change (ICC) in the Microsoft Mediaroom environment; and later this year 802.1Q VLAN support will be introduced which will allow network operators to support much more granular targeting without affecting the IPTV middleware. Summary In summary, the objectives of Project4 were: • to sell and insert, into live broadcast TV streams, ads targeted at university students. (Currently 160,000 students with rooms in halls of residence on 48 university campuses across the UK); • to show that a business model could be created that allowed advertisers – and viewers - to benefit from targeted advertising while at the same time generating revenues for Channel 4, Inuk Networks and Packet Vision. The steps covered in the business implementation are: • to partner with the IPTV operator (telco), deploying the technology required within their network, and to engage with the TV channels’ (broadcasters’) ad sales houses (and where necessary advertisers, ad and media agencies) to deliver an end-to-end targeted advertising service; • to work with Channel 4 to create, from their standard broadcast feeds, IP-encoded streams with frame-accurate markers showing where the ad breaks start and end, and feed these IP-encoded streams into Inuk Networks’ head-end; Copyright © 2009 Packet Vision Limited Strictly confidential
  • 6. • with the permission of Channel 4, to replace the standard broadcast ads with ads targeted at university students, and to sell whole ad breaks to ad / media agencies; • to sell these ad breaks directly to ad & media agencies. Packet Vision has already run 62 campaigns for 14 media agencies and successfully delivered over 12,700 spots; • to receive the ad content from the media agencies and input these assets into the system; • to set up the ad campaigns and schedule the ad insertions using the ad sales & traffic management system; • together with Inuk Networks, provide the “as-run” data and detailed subscriber ad viewing reports; • share the revenue, achieved from selling these ad breaks, with Channel 4 and Inuk Networks. In this implementation, Packet Vision has taken ownership of the whole end-to-end business process, monetising whole ad breaks targeted at university students across the UK. Whilst the subscriber base is relatively small, some 160,000 people, it falls into a single and highly desirable demographic group for advertisers, 18-24 year-old adults. The Packet Vision solution consists of 3 main technology components: • the PV1000 service delivery platform – integrated ad server, splicer (H.264 & MPEG2) and play-out router; • the Packet Vision ad campaign & traffic management system (TMS); • the Packet Vision play-out monitor that links with broadcast automation systems such as that used by Channel 4 to time accurately the provision of ad avail markers. Conclusion The Project4 project has allowed Packet Vision – in close partnership with Channel 4 and Inuk Networks – to design, implement and manage a complete, end-to-end targeted TV advertising network; from advertiser to viewer. It has shown that the technology works, the systems can be put in place and a profitable business can be built around targeted IPTV advertising. But Packet Vision’s strength and focus, however, lies in the creation of the core technology that underpins this type of business - rather than the actual selling of advertising services. This then, coupled with its deep knowledge of the systems and operation of TV broadcast head-ends and IPTV networks; and a thorough understanding of the processes of ad sales and campaign management, allows Packet Vision to deliver much richer targeted ad solutions far beyond that of just ad splicing. Patrick Christian, Tony Hart, Packet Vision Limited, Maidenhead, UK. 21 September 2009 Copyright © 2009 Packet Vision Limited Strictly confidential