New Ways To Monetize SCTE 224

The SCTE 224 standard is fantastic for video operations enabling blackout management, web embargos, time-shifts, regionalized playout, and a host of other content rights-based program level video switching capabilities. The applications don’t end there; some new applications make the standard really attractive to bolster revenue generation opportunities for both programmers and operators.

SCTE 224 AND ADDRESSABLE ADS

Let’s start with a high-level description of addressable advertising: Linear-based television advertising (cable or satellite TV ads) has been essentially sold the same way for years. The Operator has the ability to sell 2 to 3 minutes of commercials per hour per program – historically called the local avails – and the Programmer sells the rest of the ad inventory per program per hour – roughly 14 to 15 minutes of commercials. In this workflow, the local avails inventory has been classified as addressable ads, targeted and sold at a local level vs. ads sold by the programmers which are national advertising campaigns that are “locked and loaded” to be seen by everyone watching that particular program.

The popular current transition in ad allocation moves that 14 - 15 minutes of programmer-owned national inventory and converts it into locally “addressable” ad inventory. It’s a more profitable approach for Programmer and Operator alike, as the improved targeting enables them to sell at a higher CPM. Of course this makes both parties excited at the revenue and growth potential of this approach to the market. According to eMarketer, the U.S.-based Addressable TV Ad Spending is expected to grow 39.1% and 25.9% respectively in 2021 and 2022 alone. There are also a couple of key industry consortiums focused in this – On Addressability and Project OAR that are working to tackle both business and technical challenges to grow the space.

How does SCTE 224 support this new dynamic with addressable ads? The SCTE 224 standard is set up to communicate rules and policies at an audience-based level, which is exactly what linear addressability needs to make it work. Within the Addressability workflow, the first critical decisioning point is for the programmer and operator to know which ads within the programmers 14-15 minutes per hour are addressable. To do that, SCTE 224 is used as the communication protocol between the parties. The programmer’s ad schedule is converted into SCTE 224 and then distributed throughout the value chain in SCTE 224 format. Operators will then ingest the schedule and know which breaks are addressable vs. national.

The second major addressability use case for SCTE 224 is providing specific ad rules for the addressable inventory on behalf of the programmer to the Ad Decisioning System (ADS). The SCTE 224 use case for providing this decisioning information is especially important when the ADS does not have full control of the ad pod. In these cases, a common language like SCTE 224 can facilitate appropriate ad decisioning without instigating ad conflicts. Examples of these rules include:

  1. Showing a specific number of ads or limit the number of spots for a specific product group.
  2. Ability to specify minimum spacing between ads belonging to a specific product group.
  3. A specific spot may only be replaced by campaigns that are a member of a specific product.

Some real-world applications of these types of rules include not wanting to have two major soda manufactures compete in the same ad pod or showing national auto ad followed up with a dealer ad, or not showing an insurance ad in every ad pod.

While the addressable ad eco-system is highly complex and needs much more than SCTE 224 to solve it, this is a glimpse into how SCTE-224 plays a critical role in enabling this valuable source of additional revenue for both programmers and operators alike. It’s just one of many ways that SCTE-224 establishes itself as a crucial foundation upon which more dynamic experiences can be built.

SCTE AND METADATA

Exciting new use cases abound once an organization can rein in the increased complexity of metadata in a mobile, multi-screen, multiplatform world. To consider how much more complicated metadata becomes when video merges with interactive services it helps to understand the power of SCTE-224 as an evolving standard.

Beyond video latency (which is a huge challenge in itself), audience interactivity via live stream requires a mountain of additional information to be transmitted. The viewer/content relationship is getting a lot more hands-on, from live events with a gambling component to audience-participation tools that get people more involved and focused on participation. Enabling this kind of live linear experience requires a lot of screen-specific data like rules per state/region/country, league or team viewing rights, age requirements, and more. It all needs to be translated and applied seamlessly to the video content being aired and distributed. This brings us back to core use case for SCTE-224, which is taking a program, applying polices and audiences against it, and then enabling content switching at the edge based on who/what is eligible/not eligible to view that content. In use cases like this, the policy and audience rules are an added layer of requirements – essentially the content rights for a specific scenario. Everything else applies just like a content blackout with similar video distribution infrastructure and integration with the decisioning systems. Additionally, because SCTE 224 provides out-of-band metadata, it’s also possible to use it to communicate other metadata elements (stats, event info, participants, etc.) to the downstream video consumption devices.

LRM: HOW WE’RE SOLVING FOR IT

Comcast Technology Solutions (CTS) developed a cohesive, more effective way to enable addressable advertising and more complex, data-heavy linear experiences with the Linear Rights Management (LRM) solution. It is provided as a SaaS (Software as a Service) tool and runs in the public cloud, which both minimizes the need for physical hardware and makes it easier to implement and use. We normalize all sources that will drive our customers’ systems to the SCTE 224 standard, and then leverage a backend rules engine and decision manager to enable the switching of video content from a centralized control system. It is designed with an easy-to-use web-based UI that enables operations personnel to track, audit, and make changes as necessary. We integrate seamlessly with your video or ad stitching infrastructure or can provide that functionality as a service ourselves. As your needs change over time, it is simple to make them and roll them out immediately across your whole network.