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Linear addressable STB spots go into the same inventory and audience pot as multiscreen and VOD

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Cadent Technology has integrated its new linear broadcast (STB) addressable advertising solution – launched last year – into its unified multiplatform advertising system, ensuring addressable linear STB inventory can be accessed as part of a unified ad campaign. This means advertisers can ‘see’ addressable STB audiences and inventory alongside all other potential audience and inventory options spanning traditional VOD, IP-VOD, nDVR, OTT-VOD and linear-OTT.

The key benefit for advertisers is that linear addressable campaigns do not have to be planned, executed and reported in isolation. It also means that campaign optimisation, including frequency capping, can take account of every ad exposure in real-time, including ad exposures via a broadcast linear addressable system.

Cadent Technology (formerly BlackArrow, and part of Cross MediaWorks) believes the combined multiplatform advertising solution is transformative, and not just because it enables truly unified campaign management. The linear broadcast addressable solution is itself unique, moving ad-decisioning out of the set-top box and into the network, where the decisions about which ad to serve next can take account of what just happened, within the last few seconds, across all platforms. The feedback from the STBs is instant, so advertisements served there are also noted in the network decisions that decide which ads are served next.

Furthermore, the advertising video assets can be delivered into set-top boxes in real-time, assuming there is sufficient bandwidth in the serving group (which is increasingly likely, thanks to advanced broadband networks and better codecs like HEVC). This removes the need to pre-cache ad assets on a device (e.g. on the DVR hard drive). Instead, ad content can be unicast to the STB/DVR ‘just-in-time’ and spliced (within the set-top box) into the linear broadcast signal.

When you take instant STB feedback on what ads have already been served via STBs, combine that with a knowledge of what ads are being watched on all other devices (across an entire operator TV Everywhere service, for example), and you can make real-time decisions on which ad to serve next on any device (including the STB), and can even deliver addressable ads to an STB in real-time without pre-caching them, it adds up to a pretty compelling proposition. The end result is that campaigns can be optimised to a greater degree.

A brand or agency may be targeting an advertisement at particular households because of their demographic, lifestyle and purchase behaviour profiles, but does not want the ad to be seen more than five times a day per home in total, across all screens. If an early evening STB ad exposure takes the daily total to four, that is immediately known by the campaign management system. If that home sees the advertisement on a tablet later that evening, the network decisioning system knows that the household has reached its limit of five exposures, and tells the STB to serve a different ad (or informs the network to deliver a different ad) when another, late night, addressable spot opportunity appears.

The unified campaign management system also manages pacing (how many times an ad is shown to a population of devices every 15 minutes during a day, for example) and metering (how many times an ad is shown to a population of devices in total). As Les Carter, VP and Chief Architect at Cadent, points out, what you enable is a single campaign plan where all the different platforms work towards a shared impression goal.

The Cadent Technology broadcast addressable system helps increase revenues from addressable inventory. If the STB served the same ad for a sixth time, it would be unpaid and so wasted (as far as the Pay TV operator is concerned). Another advertiser, which is also targeting the same household, could have shown its ad instead and would have paid the service provider for the insertion.

Cadent argues that if the reliance on pre-caching is reduced, there is a greater potential choice of ad campaigns to select from, and a Pay TV operator can manage more addressable campaigns at the same time. That means you should never run out of alternative campaign options if you hit frequency or metering caps on other campaigns. The key, again, is that you are less likely to serve an ad that is an ‘unwanted’ impression for the advertiser, and therefore not chargeable.

Stephanie Mitchko-Beale, CTO and COO at Cadent, notes: “You can put more campaigns into the system, with a higher probability of an appropriate ad exposure. From an advertiser perspective, this really gives you scale.”

The Cadent solution supports real-time ad delivery or pre-caching of ad copy onto DVRs. A DVR with pre-cached assets can check with the network controller on a regular basis (like every day or every few hours) to determine which ads are the most applicable for it, and pull down the necessary ad copy and hold it there for a certain period of time.

The Cadent broadcast linear addressable solution is currently being deployed with two tier-one Pay TV providers, who should be live by the end of this year. These companies already have addressable TV advertising and will unify ad execution capabilities across linear addressable, OTT and VOD.

Another important benefit of the Cadent Technology linear addressable solution is the way it prepares an operator for STB targeting at scale. There is an operations dashboard that gives a holistic view of the dynamic ad insertion platform (i.e. the delivery/execution part of the system). This is used to monitor activity and flag any problems.

Mitchko-Beale explains: “We understand if a particular set-top box is having issues when trying to acquire advertising assets, or the STB has acquired assets but is not making any advertising requests. The dashboard allows users to drill down into specific geographies to look at issues.”

She emphasises the difference in operational requirements when you are dealing with 200,000 addressable-enabled set-top boxes and 20 million. It is harder to spot problems within a much larger population, thus the focus on the operations dashboard since the addressable linear solution was launched last year.

This dashboard also lets you ‘light-up’ specific set-top boxes across multiple regions rather than having to introduce them market-by-market. “This functionality promotes the expansion of available addressable households,” Cadent Technology says.

Carter also highlights the analytics and reporting challenge when you are dealing with millions rather than thousands of STBs. There is a lot more data to extrapolate and coordinate. In terms of reporting, the STBs will tell the network how long an ad was watched, whether DVR trick-play (e.g. fast-forward) was used, and whether someone watched the whole advert or tuned-out part-way through.

Mitchko-Beale notes that it has become more complicated for marketers to gather reporting from different multiplatform siloes and that a unified campaign system makes reporting easier. And if you can match ad exposure to effects, advertisers get a more precise measure of return on investment, she adds.

Although the real power of the Cadent linear addressable solution is its ability to work within a unified multiplatform planning, execution and reporting environment, this solution is valuable in its own right on a broadcast-only deployment. “It is a great product in itself, and can be combined with mobile and VOD if you add those later,” Carter declares.

The network-based addressable TV solution is built on the same core components as the Cadent multiplatform advertising technology. “There is a lot of shared DNA,” says Carter. He observes that service providers want to invest in technology that will address all screens and is not limited to one type of infrastructure (like the broadcast network).

Cadent has been granted a patent for its approach to broadcast addressable, relating to the network-based decisioning and the way the solution adapts to different legacy infrastructures. With the network-based decisioning, multiple approaches to real-time DAI become possible. “Our approach is novel and it is now validated with customers,” says Carter.

The linear broadcast addressable platform integrates seamlessly with third-party ad systems via open standards (e.g. SCTE and IAB) and flexible APIs. Pay TV operators can integrate with a content provider’s preferred in-house advertising system. It has the flexibility to accommodate future technologies and emerging video platforms.

The need for unified advertising management is becoming more urgent. Making linear STB addressable part of that unified management is the most important achievement with this fully integrated offer. Carter concludes: “What you enable is a single, unified campaign across all platforms. You [as the advertiser] are really buying an audience, regardless of what platform they are on.”


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