Dynamic ad insertion (DAI) today plays a major part in linear television and OTT streaming. Like any technology, it is continuing to develop, which, says Erik Otto, chief executive of Mediaproxy, calls for programs and advertisements to be even more carefully monitored.
Technology both drives and reacts to changes in how broadcasters use and apply it.
Erik Otto is the CEO of MediaProxy, the leader in broadcast compliance logging, monitoring, and analysis. In this article, Erik looks at the technologies making this possible and how monitoring is key to its success.
Digital systems, file-based operations and now streaming have all dramatically altered not only the way broadcast programs are distributed but also introduced new ways for people to watch video. These platforms and workflows are well established but the way they are used is constantly evolving, calling for additional features from developers.
Enter Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI)
This is particularly the case regarding Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI), which is becoming an ever more pressing consideration for broadcasters, streaming services and facilities. The distribution and placement of commercials has always been a major consideration in linear television, but the streaming revolution initially distanced itself from that established model, with many of the pioneering services – notably Netflix and Amazon Prime – being based on subscriptions.
The situation was, however, not as clear-cut as ‘commercial linear TV equals advertising‘ and ‘streaming equals subscriptions‘.
Ads were still a factor to be considered when traditional broadcasters began to offer streamed video-on-demand and catch-up services. And when YouTube truly became the platform for people to broadcast themselves, as it had set out to be, inserting ads into the streams became a priority and part of the business’ success story – albeit now with the premium option so that viewers can watch ad-free.
This new broadcasting landscape called for a different approach to packaging advertisements alongside program material, with the solution being found in the world of digital media.
DAI had already been used successfully to deliver targeted advertising for Facebook, Google and other online brands; it made sense to adapt the technique for TV and streaming, where it has played an important part in establishing streamed services in the modern media landscape as subscriptions.
Just like the platforms it is used on, DAI continues to evolve and, in the process, is ushering in new segments of the 21st-century media market.
FAST or free ad-supported streaming TV
Among these is the area of FAST channels (free ad-supported streaming TV).
These OTT services are more akin to linear stations, not only in carrying advertisements and not requiring a subscription but also by having scheduled programming in the style of conventional broadcasting, in addition to VoD. At the same time, linear TV is incorporating DAI techniques into its workflows and moving towards a more OTT one-to-one approach for distribution.
Through the use of addressable TV (a.k.a segmented TV), both OTT and linear platforms can target advertisements at viewers more accurately, in terms of both location and interests.
This is something OTT has been able to do for some time because DAI is integrated into the HTTP layer of OTT, which can distribute one stream to an individual viewer. Another aspect of addressable TV is SSAI (server-side ad insertion), which is seen as preferable to CSAI (client-side ad insertion) because it can be used at scale and more reliable, particularly with the advantage of being able to confirm what ads will be inserted.
What’s Next for the DAI Market?
The DAI market has expanded considerably in the last two years and surveys predict it will grow to an even greater extent in the foreseeable future.
Both the OTT and linear TV sectors are gearing up for that, with new forms of advertising delivery being adopted to ensure ads reach as many of the right people – according to a broadcaster’s target audience and demographics – as possible.
- contextual advertising, which matches the commercials with the programs they will appear during.
- L-band advertising, in which short-duration ads are shown down one side of the TV screen, most commonly during sports coverage.
All of this makes for more elements to be carried as part of a broadcast stream, each with its trigger and metadata.
These multiple sources have to be monitored carefully to ensure that they –
- comply with relevant broadcast standards or regulations for quality;
- are going to the correct platform or device;
- appear at the right time in the right program.
Mediaproxy has provided real-time monitoring for broadcast and streaming distribution for many years, with DAI being the latest in the various components requiring checking and verification. This is an ongoing process for us, and we support all HLS (HTTP live streaming) and MPEG-DASH (dynamic adaptive streaming over HTTP) variants, including reliable ad insertion trigger detection.
As more content playout moves into the cloud, systems like Mediaproxy’s LogServer compliance logging and analysis system are being used to help compare performance between on-prem and virtual facilities, particularly in terms of ads.
What is clear is that advertising – in its modern contextual, targeted and location-based forms – is firmly part of today’s broadcast and OTT scenes.
That might not be to every viewer’s taste but dynamic ad insertion in its many guises is a major consideration for broadcasters and streamers, who in turn need to ensure the right ads go to the right places.
Erik's career in media started after studying applied engineering far too long ago. He's has had an extensive career working in audio engineering, television broadcast, computer graphics, digital film, and high-end computing. As Managing Director and CEO of Mediaproxy, the company has taken leverage of his many years of experience in management and software development to cement its position as the global leader in broadcast compliance logging, monitoring, and analysis. Erik has also founded XDT Pty Ltd, which develops the fast data transfer solution Catapult. The software-based solution enables media companies to efficiently utilize internet and VPN connections via its UDP accelerated transfer protocol.
Since 2001, hundreds of engineers around the globe, rely daily on Mediaproxy’s unified software solutions for 24/7 monitoring, analysis, multi-viewing, and capture of live video from broadcast and OTT sources. With support for the latest formats and standards including 4K, HEVC, SMPTE 2022-6, SMPTE 2110, NDI, HLS, MPEG-DASH, and DVB-2, Mediaproxy consolidates analysis of on-air incidents, content search, and ad verification via easy to use web browser, and mobile interfaces. Compliant with current broadcast and IP streaming regulations, Mediaproxy supports all current industry standards for closed captioning, DVB Subtitling, SCTE-35, SCTE-104, and loudness. Whether on the ground or in the cloud, broadcast monitoring, analysis, and compliance functions can be performed all in one place.