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3 March 2022

Irdeto finds security synergies in SSAI, slow scaling commences

Dutch digital security specialist Irdeto has been looking for verticals that complement its pre-existing offerings – one such as its server-side ad insertion (SSAI) offering which arrived on the market in January of this year, following two years of development.

Speaking to Faultline, the company’s COO, Shane McCarthy, says that the move into SSAI was the result of an internal inquiry into new areas for expansion, which looked for synergies between Irdeto’s current infrastructure and potential business segments. It became clear that the core tech skills and scalable infrastructure that is required for SSAI were in large part already there.

A key parallel is that both DRM and SSAI systems are mission critical – the systems cannot risk a blackout, even momentarily. Furthermore, Irdeto is used to processing requests on an immense scale, with the Control DRM product currently serving 4 billion instances a month from tier one operators and large OTT platforms.

That said, Irdeto still had to develop the SSAI technology from the ground up, with help from ad tech vendor Invidi. McCarthy says that Irdeto was keen to build the product with as few partners as possible to streamline the time to market but did not rule out further integrations now that Irdeto SSAI is up and running.

Next on the agenda is integrating with further supply and demand side platforms. McCarthy says a wide array of ad server partners is key to reaching the target of between an 80% to 90% fill rate for Irdeto SSAI’s clients.

Despite his apt description of pay TV as a “melting ice cube”, McCarthy was steadfast in assuring Faultline that Irdeto has no interest in moving away from its traditional customer base of operators any time soon. Although the ice might be melting, Irdeto is growing its market share of pay TV operators year on year.

Irdeto’s customer base of operators are regularly on the look-out for new services as they expand their offerings. McCarthy says that Irdeto’s traditional stomping ground offers more than enough scale for Irdeto SSAI in a linear environment for the foreseeable future.

Our questions about expanding into other verticals, such as connected TV, were not met with much enthusiasm.

That said, McCarthy stresses the importance of scaling slowly. Despite pull in Europe, the company does not want to take on ten tier 1s simultaneously and overload its servers. The most significant pick-up so far has been in Southern and Eastern Asia, where many clients are new to integrating SSAI technology.

Although it seems like a rudimentary service these days, both McCarthy and Prior argue that many operators can run in circles while trying to engineer a proprietary SSAI service.

He says that operators are usually able to get things out the door but often falter when trying to stay on top of their offerings while trying to continue innovating.

Far from a run of the mill development job, McCarthy admits that Irdeto’s team found the endeavor challenging – perhaps a testament to the scale that the vendor is expecting. “Ads are going to get hyper-personalized,” argued McCarthy. “That is where tier 1s will get the most monetization.”

Considering the security background, Mark Prior, Irdeto’s Product Manager for DAI, feels that server-side ad fraud protection was a likely avenue in the future, noting that market incumbents such as Double Verify tend to operate primarily on the client side.