The Biggest Challenge Facing The OTT Streaming Industry: Switch Media

The Biggest Challenge Facing The OTT Streaming Industry: Switch Media

Monetising video content while providing audiences the perfect viewing experience is the biggest technical challenge for the OTT streaming industry, according to one expert.

John Hanrahan
Posted by John Hanrahan

Speaking ahead the 2017 Australian OTT TV Summit in Sydney, Switch Media chief technology officer Luke Durham said this major hurdle is closely followed by the challenges presented with:

  • demographic targeting of the right audiences with streamed ads;
  • the accuracy required of the metadata attached to content; and
  • the ability to keep pace with the proliferation of new devices and platforms.

“The viewing experience is paramount, so the technology to deliver a smooth, TV-like experience which doesn’t annoy or interrupt what a person is watching has been fine-tuned both in terms of managing thousands of feeds and image quality,” Durham said.

“Without the monetisation of streamed content, a significant proportion of content which millions of Australians take for granted would probably not be available.

“Crucial to all of this is the metadata for both the ‘discovery’, or the search and finding of the correct programs, and for the measurement and analysis of audiences who are using various devices. We’re talking literally thousands of programs being accessed by millions of end users simultaneously all over Australia.”

Durham said one of the one of the biggest problems the OTT industry faces is that there are multiple sources of content and ads, a lack of information consistency, and therefore, a lot of integration has to be managed across a number of third-party providers to seamlessly bring it all together in a single solution.

Luke Durham

Pictured: Luke Durham

“Add to that, the issues around digital rights management (DRM) across the various platforms and ensuring they are all correct and up to date,” he said.

“To achieve the best possible outcomes, OTT streaming solution providers need to move quickly and customise the services and tailor the interface for each client.”

Durham said there has to be a fine balance between ensuring client ads are delivered to their target market and not stopped by ad-blocking software, which has become prevalent, while maintaining the consistency and quality of the content we transmit.

“What is not known by the public, and many advertisers, is that to deliver a single ad into a streaming program can require up to five technological ‘requests’ via application programming interfaces – a set of functions which access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service,” he explained.

“Another element in all of this is the need to keep an eye on the release of new devices and platforms and ensure that we can deliver our client’s content and ads into that particular environment.”

Ability to target and measure

With the metadata, telemetry and analytics available today, media buyers and agencies are able to target and measure exactly the audiences they need to reach, and Durham noted that this needs to happen smoothly and without interruption.

“It was one of the driving forces in the development of AdEase – our server-side ad insertion tool which not only side-steps ad blocking technologies, but delivers a smooth, TV-like viewing experience that integrates ads into program content across any digital device,” he said.

“Unlike other server-side ad insertion products, AdEase does not require full ingestion of a broadcaster’s video library in order to perform ad insertion, but rather, integrates easily into any pre-existing video management system.”

Mr Durham said the industry, and audiences, are going to see further innovation around both the discovery of content and leveraging streamed content onto social platforms.

Using automated metadata capabilities, with voice and image recognition, content and platform owners will be able to identify “live” scenes.

“With the volume of global content rapidly escalating by the week, metadata will be used for micro-genre descriptions content to assist quicker identification. For example, instead of just classifying a program as comedy, it could be romantic comedy, quirky comedy or a black comedy,’’ Durham said.

“Image recognition could also be used to identify products or brands in films or TV shows or find where a particular actor appears in a scene. And if a content developer, broadcast client or platform wanted, metadata could also be integrated with various social media platforms which are now used daily by billions around the world.

“They could relate to issues about ads, regulations or personalisation. For example, they may be used to trigger a health ad if a sequence involving smoking appears on the screen such as an overlay popup for Nicorette or a warning about sports betting during a footy game if it’s likely to have children watching.”