Synamedia has unveiled an end-to-end addressable TV advertising solution that includes server-side and device-level advertising insertion, audience insights via a specially-developed, TV-centric data management platform (DMP), and fully unified campaign management that provides forecasting and reporting across all screens, including universal pacing control and frequency capping. The new solution, called Iris, is platform and device agnostic and can be harnessed by platform operators, broadcasters and non-broadcast streaming providers.
Synamedia is the television software specialist that was spun out of Cisco and contains intellectual property and staff stretching back to when the company was NDS, which was a key partner for Sky when it originally built AdSmart. Iris represents an important ad-tech launch, with Synamedia having made advanced advertising one of its strategic priorities alongside content protection, cybersecurity and its Infinite platform for an all-streaming future.
Iris will manage and execute addressable campaigns across set-top boxes (one-way and two-way) and streaming services (to connected TV, tablets, mobiles, etc.), covering all inventory types like live, non-live linear, catch-up, catalogue VOD and DVR (whether assets are stored on the device or in the cloud). All of these sources can be treated as a single inventory pot where targeted audiences can be found.
Iris enables Pay TV operators to introduce addressable TV advertising across a population of connected and non-connected set-top boxes, with non-IP devices able to use a push-VOD mechanism to deliver ads ready for insertion. These one-way devices may have a hard drive but they do not need one to work with Iris.
For IP-connected STBs, the options include IP delivery of ads for device insertion into broadcast signals, and server-side ad insertion into content that is then streamed, complete with targeted ads, to the boxes – with streamed VOD being an obvious use-case.
On-device insertion can be used for hard-disk based DVR ad spots, or server-side insertion for cloud DVR. The solution works with pure-IP set-top boxes, just as it can be used on multiscreen devices and connected TV in streaming-only BVOD and OTT scenarios. Legacy STBs can be addressable-enabled using Iris, ensuring a large footprint for operators, Synamedia says.
“This solution addresses the complexities as platform operators transition from traditional broadcasting to IP,” says Scott Kewley, VP Advanced Advertising and Data, at Synamedia. “Some operators will have different set-top box types within their footprint. The idea is to open up as much inventory as possible.”
Dynamic ad insertion is only part of this comprehensive solution. The next major component is a TV-DMP, which is a scaled down version of a typical data management platform, with a focus on viewing data and the audience insights that can be derived from it. The TV-DMP can help profile households (in a GDPR compliant manner), showing that they almost certainly have school-age children based on viewing peaks in after-school hours, or that it contains a professional couple based on later evening viewing start times, for example.
This insights solution can support simple but valuable targeting goals, like if an advertiser (which might include content companies) wants to reach heavy television viewers, or sports fans. It can also cross-reference known or highly probable household profiles, like the presence of children, against viewing patterns to determine where most of the viewing happens in these types of households (e.g. which channels, which times of day, etc.).
This knowledge can be applied to planning/forecasting to understand when insertion opportunities will appear and how often for any given household profile. As Kewley points out: “Viewing measurement is a good guide to how much consumption takes place and when we might expect those kinds of audiences to tune-in. Forecasting data is one of the elements that is fed into the campaign manager.”
He explains that while the TV-DMP within Iris can be integrated with any other DMP, many of the companies Synamedia is talking to have use-cases that could be fulfilled using the TV-DMP alone, with targeting based primarily on what people watch. (Typical third-party inputs that do not relate to viewing behaviour could be demographics, in-store purchase behaviour or website activity, which provide guides towards propensity to buy certain goods or categories, for example.)
“A TV-DMP provides extra value for advertisers,” says Kewley. “Anyone on the buy-side will really value this data. Third-parties cannot provide consumption data and the extra understanding of household make-up that this can provide. We think this knowledge [from the TV-DMP] is critical.”
Iris also has a fully unified campaign management and decisioning system that works across all inventory and devices, serving the right ad to the right home according to the campaign objectives. Advertisers can choose to target their audience across all, some or specific devices. All advertising exposures are reported to the campaign management system, which has a holistic multiscreen view, in real-time.
The campaign manager maps pacing (the rate at which the campaign budget should be spent), frequency and total delivery to demonstrate campaign progress and uses the viewing knowledge from the TV-DMP to forecast further insertion opportunities and so predict likely campaign fulfilment.
Iris seeks to unify ad-tech as well as campaign management, with as much of the advertising workflow as possible converged, whether the ads are finally delivered via broadcast or IP, or to televisions or multiscreen devices. The system creates ad profiles for each screen type (including transcoding). Iris integrates with programmatic demand sources, if required.
Kewley comments: “Many operators and broadcasters are looking for data-driven advertising as an answer to digital [advertising competitors]. This is a way to combat the erosion of ad revenues and also generate new income. Iris makes it easy to monetize inventory, even over the more challenging one-way and hybrid networks.”
He emphasises that this solution is not just for Pay TV or other broadcast platform operators: Iris is designed for streaming services including BVOD and non-broadcaster OTT. “As demand for more targeted TV advertising grows, they can create compelling advertising propositions.”
Synamedia says this end-to-end solution simplifies execution and minimises costs. “It delivers faster time to value by removing the friction points that characterize piecemeal addressable advertising products.” Kewley adds: “It is difficult for media companies to assemble all these components together, in parallel. We have the expertise to deliver a broad value-chain offering.”