‘Intelligent’ video engine promises to update addressable ads for pay TV

Linius Technologies is pitching its intelligent content technology to pay TV providers as way to deliver personalized advertising and video content to viewers on the TV set. Linius has developed and patented what it calls a virtualized video engine (VVE), which it debuted at IBC last year.

The technology is able to manipulate video files between the source of the content and its destination, by reducing the video to its data components, and then re-assembling the video to be played back for the viewer. By opening up the video file, operators are able to modify or manipulate that video as it’s being transported to the end user. It claims to do this in near real time, introducing minimal latency into the video stream.

There are multiple applications for the technology, such as inserting metadata or combating video piracy, and it opens up opportunities to insert ads targeted to viewers down to the household level, the company claims.  “When you combine those solutions, we’re getting tremendous response from the studios and content owners,” Richardson said.

As an advertising solution, the technology operates in a fashion similar to addressable TV. As a viewer initiates playback of a piece of content, the solution determines which commercials should be surfaced for that viewer, based on the available data, and then inserts them into the video stream. Richardson calls it “the utopia of personalized advertising in the world of cable TV.”

“There are tons of personalized advertising capabilities on the Internet. Where we’ve never seen it is on cable TV,” Richardson said. He is clearly unfamiliar with the experiments that Comcast is going through with its decisioning partner Freewheel.

“What we enable is for cable companies to provide the same level of granularity of ad distribution that you get today with Facebook or YouTube. I can buy 10,000 eyeballs from anywhere in that cable provider’s network of people who have recently been on eBay shopping for watches.” Of course that leaves you with the problem of what to send to the other few million, a problem that sometimes has cable companies reaching for 4 or 5 separate programmatic advertising solutions running together sequentially.

The VVE technology can plug into most all of the existing advertising solutions through a workflow software bridge. “If people are using real time bidding platforms, or advertising solutions, that all integrates through the cable workflow software to select the ad, and then tell us here’s the ad we want to play and here’s when we want to play it,” Richardson said.

Linius has initially partnered with Digisoft for its pay TV workflow software, but Richardson said the technology works with other workflow software providers. By putting some software at the headend, and a firmware upgrade on the pay TV set-top box, Linius can enable a new form of addressable TV that delivers targeted adverts to pay TV viewers based on data that’s more granular even than demographic data.

The company puts emphasis on pay TV because that’s who it’s hoping to sell its TV advertising solution to, at least initially, as a solution for either live addressable TV or VoD advertising. Addressable TV advertising has been slow to grow, but some peg addressable TV to be available in 70 million households in the US by the end of 2017. Linius has also partnered with UK-based Suitcase TV for its broadcast TV software solutions.

The company is hoping to leverage its technology alongside the various OTT strategies that are being executed by service providers and TV networks left and right. Linius’s technology can help operators get around ad-blocking on ad-supported OTT services. Using the VVE, the advertisement is essentially built into the video stream, unlike other forms of streaming video which initiate channel changes for running ads. That means ad blockers can’t identify the ads to block them.

“Our virtualization engine applies to video the same principles that have transformed computing, networking and data storage — virtualization,” Richardson said. “Now we can create virtualized video that is lighter, more agile, and able to be subjected to a range of commands, queries, business rules and broadcast workflows.”