DATASHEET: CT2600 Frame-accurate Ad Recognition Service for Web-delivered TV
Traditional TV broadcasters have always managed the selling and placement of advertising on their own channels. The exception to this occurs in the US where major broadcasters 'mark' about 10 per cent of their commercial breaks (approximately two minutes per hour). This enables network operators to replace the existing ads and generate revenues from the sale of local TV advertising.
Outside the US, however, channels are generally broadcast without 'markers' meaning that operators delivering the TV to viewers cannot replace ads. As a result, TV channels that are broadcast from one part of the world and viewed in another carry advertising that is completely irrelevant. Broadcasters and operators make no money from the advertising and viewers see ads for products or services that are often unavailable or irrelevant in their geography.
Frame-accurate technology offers monetization opportunities
By recognizing TV ads, and automatically inserting markers into the TV signal, Culloma's frame-accurate Ad Recognition Service enables ad replacement on linear TV channels worldwide. This not only creates a valuable additional revenue opportunity for broadcasters but also makes the advertising more relevant to viewers. Moreover, when integrated into the new web-delivered TV networks, it enables highly targeted TV advertising.
Enables low-cost, low-risk, ad replacement
In the past, replacing ads in the network has required considerable equipment and software to be integrated into the broadcasters' automation and playout systems. This has often been expensive and risked disrupting a live, working system. Now, with Culloma's network-based ad recognition, the marking of the signal and ad replacement is performed quite separately and doesn't need any changes at all to the automation and playout systems. The low entry cost offered by Culloma also makes it easy to try new advertising concepts without impacting on live services.
A Workflow Example
Culloma's frame-accurate Ad Recognition Service works as part of a web TV ecosystem. The illustration shows a typical context in which it can be used.
Head End Equipment
The linear TV signal is received off-air - often via satellite - through an integrated receiver decoder (IRD).
Culloma Ad Recognition Service
The Culloma Ad Recognition Service is software that identifies where ads appear in the broadcast stream and automatically places SCTE 35 markers in the signal. The signal is then returned to the network operator so that ad replacement software downstream - either Culloma's or that of another supplier - can be used to insert alternative advertisements appropriate to the new geography. The whole process is completed in seconds and is undetectable to viewers.
At the core of the service is a database of ad signatures that enables the automatic recognition of advertisements as they appear in the live TV stream. The database itself is very much a live object: new ads come into existence frequently, old ads are retired, and campaigns that are used periodically are refreshed and updated. As well as recognising advertisements, or other video sequences such as bumpers or promotions, rules can be applied to the ad recognition to accelerate and maximize the database. Incorporated within the system, therefore, is a suite of powerful software tools specifically developed to provide a comprehensive and robust service.
The Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) Transcoder takes in the video source streams and transcodes them into different formats (eg HLS, Flash, Smooth) with output streams at different chosen bitrates and resolutions. On the output side the video is 'pushed' into the transcoder as a single program transport stream (SPTS) carried over the UDP/IP protocol. This is the method used in traditional IPTV environments. On the output side the video is 'pulled' using HTTP: the protocol used for delivering web pages over the internet. All the major streaming protocols are designed to run over HTTP but in this application HLS has been used as it allows straightforward transfer of the SCTE 35 ad avail markers.
Ad Replacement Server
This server interfaces to the Ad Decision System using the VMAP/VAST3 API. It performs ad switching by a process known as 'manifest manipulation'. The manifest is a file that tells the client device where it can obtain the next 'chunk' of video data. (A 'chunk' is a small file containing a few seconds of video data.) Every client device can have its own manifest and by manipulating its content the server can control which ad chunks get played by the client and when. Because the server never has to process the data - a highly compute-intensive task - it can manage a large number of clients: typically up to 10,000 per server platform.
By adopting industry standard protocols for web delivery of the video the above approach supports a wide variety of client devices: from smartphones to laptops; desktop PCs to gaming consoles. Moreover, the client can use a 'dumb' player as all the management of the ad switching is done inside the network.
Culloma Technologies Ltd, Reading Enterprise Centre, University of Reading, Whiteknights Road, Reading, RG6 6BU, UK
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© 2013-14 Culloma Technologies Limited. All trademarks are acknowledged as belonging to their respective companies. Culloma Technologies' products are subject to continuous development. We therefore reserve the right to amend specifications without notice. This document is not part of a contract or license except as may be expressly agreed.