Kaltura, Massive team for targeted TV, casually drop debut AI features

US cloud video company Kaltura and UK personalized UI provider Massive Interactive are both looking to bag their first customer deployment deals of 2018 on the back of the NAB trade show this week – pooling their resources together to launch a combined targeted TV platform.

In a hyper sensitive period for all things data collection, particularly regarding social media, it sparks concerns for recommendation and personalization software vendors – many of which pull user interests from social media platforms in order to get a leg up over rivals while others purely base personalized TV features on past viewing behaviors.

Specifically, scores of users have either evacuated social media or tightened up their security preferences so less personal data can be harnessed – and operators will be wary of replicating Facebook’s almighty slip up as they hone in on owning the internet media ecosystem.

What Kaltura and Massive are bringing to the table is a set of back end tools to put operators in control, by assisting editorial teams with managing, scheduling and updating UIs across any device via a drag-and-drop interface. It combines the data clout of Kaltura, claiming to serve over 27 million cloud TV users every month, with Massive’s specialized AXIS platform.

The joint targeted cloud TV product also claims to use AI capabilities to analyze and segment raw data from “multiple sources” – which Kaltura told us is a combination of past viewing habits aggregated on the Kaltura TV platform, as well as data coming from CRM systems, operational support systems, business support systems, or any other third-party sources including social media. Kaltura has a long list of vendor partnerships, but one which jumps out concerning the UX market is Nice People at Work, so Kaltura may well be licensing data from NPAW’s Youbora video analytics platform for the newly launched targeted TV platform.

As for the AI element, Kaltura could not reveal if the company has developed algorithms in-house or has outsourced machine or deep learning capabilities, but did provide us with the following statement regarding the AI component of the new targeted TV platform: “We are building a customer model which helps the video service provider define his target audience, this is done based on the desired business outcome and human interaction. At this stage, the customer defines which segments are relevant to examine, but the missing piece is determining the threshold, which is done by AI.”

Kaltura also gave us an example to explain the targeted TV framework: “Imagine you’re a video service provider and you’ve just bought the rights for the World Cup which is premium content you want to upsell. Upselling more content would be your desired business outcome. Your target audience would be all the users who are “Sports Enthusiasts” and willing to spend more on content – “Big Spenders”. But how would you define who among your viewers is a “Big Spender” and “Sports Enthusiast”? What is the threshold you define for a Sports Enthusiast, does this user watch 3 hours of sports per week? 9? 20? Or maybe over 50% from his total viewing on the service? Would it also include how this user has engaged with sports content? What would be the right threshold for the level of engagement? Similar questions can be raised for the “Big Spender” segment. In a nutshell, the definition of the user segments’ threshold is AI-driven and helps the service marketer define the initial thresholds and if necessary, refine them along the campaign.”

Kaltura has a broad portfolio of OTT video technologies spanning transcoding, distribution, management, editing, publishing, discovery, personalization, analytics, monetization, CDN and security, to name a few, but seemingly this week marks the first time Kaltura has claimed to be using artificial intelligence capabilities. The company confirmed as much, telling us: “This is the first time Kaltura has used the term AI in a TV tech-related press release, but has been working on AI-based technologies for a while now.”

The recent Kaltura road map has been all about working intensely on the user experience layer, building systems to identify and target users from where its customers can communicate directly with users, by methods such as sending notifications to mobile devices or IP set tops. Never in our previous conversations with Kaltura has it dropped in any AI or machine learning buzzwords – hinting at the company’s next target market.

Meanwhile, Massive’s AXIS platform looks rather similar to other pieces of UX software for personalizing the editorial process for TV experiences, such as those from Ostmodern, Netgem and even the European Broadcasting Union. The value therefore of partnering with a company like Kaltura is adding an extra layer of data to build on and create a highly targeted product.

Massive Interactive CTO Max Ramsay said: “The primary concern for many operators that we work with today is ‘how can I deliver an app that turns my viewers into fans?’ We believe the answer lies in personalization. Teaming up with Kaltura will give our customers high-end, tailored video products that puts their data at the heart of their own decision making. We’re excited to be opening this new chapter on our long-standing partnership and spearhead the next revolution in cloud TV.”