Multiscreen Dynamic Ad Insertion: The IP VOD Workflow

By Les Carter, BlackArrow

Multiscreen Ad Insertion With consumers devouring video on more devices, service providers are looking at new technologies to help them monetize video viewed on any screen. To support the needs of programmers, local ad sales teams and the advertising community, service providers are deploying dynamic ad insertion (DAI) capabilities across their viewing platforms.

Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) got out of the gates earlier this year by deploying BlackArrow’s IP VOD solution, which gave them the ability to dynamically insert commercials into multiscreen, on-demand programming.  Using the same system that powers DAI for linear over IP and QAM VOD, Time Warner Cable was able to start monetizing advertising opportunities on IP-enabled devices in less than four months – first with delivery to iOS/Android tablets and smartphones, and then to other IP-enabled devices such as Samsung smart TVs, Xbox 360 consoles and Roku players.

To support the range of IP devices in the video landscape in addition to the existing traditional platforms, service providers need to streamline operations and simplify workflows by using a centralized advertising control plane.

How it works

Dynamic ad insertion workflow In most cases, DAI solutions for IP VOD can utilize components used for traditional VOD and linear video over IP. This provides operational efficiency and simplicity for service providers, who can leverage existing advertising workflows and the centralized management across all viewing platforms.

Here’s how DAI on IP VOD works. Program metadata, including break point timings, is ingested into a content information system (CIS) for use in on-demand platforms.  Break point timings provide the superset of all possible insertion points within the VOD asset. If the VOD asset hasn’t been prepared for ad insertion, a transcoder may query a system such a CIS in order to obtain the list of all break points so that clean splice boundaries can be made for smooth transitions in and out of dynamically inserted ad content.  A packager is responsible for converting the VOD asset from the format provided by the programmer (e.g., a contiguous M2TS or H.264 file) into protocol-specific formats (e.g., fragmented HLS files).  Both the transcoder and packager can perform these tasks using CableLabs ESAM, a mature and production-deployed standard designed to support ABR stream conditioning and packaging.

When an IP-enabled device makes a request to the service provider to view a program, it is often via a proxy (often known as a manifest manipulator), which is tasked with the actual splice activity on IP platforms. The proxy calls the ad control plane that utilizes the placement opportunity information service (POIS) to determine the ad payload in real time based on business rules, such as inventory splits between an operator and a programmer, the targeting rights of both parties, and the definition of the advertising block.

From there, the ad control plane determines ownership of each individual advertising opportunity, which could be the operator or programmer based on allocation agreements. The ad control plane may utilize a subscriber information system (SIS) in order to decorate the request with audience metadata such as demographic, geographic or service level information. Evaluating the active campaigns is a role that falls to the ad decision server (ADS). The advertising control plane takes this information and builds a playlist that will be used to determine when in a program each ad is to be inserted. This playlist is provided to the proxy for execution, and measurement statistics are generated by the video delivery plane. The last step is then collecting the measurement information to enable such features such as campaign goal terminations, pacing, metering and reporting.

Why it matters

The promise of any content, on any device, at any time is coming to fruition. According to a recent report by Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE), pay TV subscribers viewing multiscreen video content nearly tripled from 4.4% in the first quarter of 2013 to 12.5% in the fourth quarter of last year. The report also indicated that more than 13 million viewers authenticated themselves to watch multiscreen programming at least once every quarter in 2014, up from 6 million in 2013. Programmers are also investing in multiscreen by providing earlier release windows and content for time-shifted consumption.

Service providers are deploying cross-platform solutions to support their programming partners’ monetization strategies and provide tools such as DAI on all viewing platforms. Continuing to be the source of all premium video content is a key to service providers' remaining competitive in an ever-changing TV landscape.

Les Carter is the VP and chief architect for BlackArrow. Reach him at

Get the Broadband Technology Report Newsletters Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to email newsletters today at no cost and receive the latest information on:

  • Video Technology
  • Network Technology
  • Technology Alerts
  • BTR LATAM (Latin America)

SCTE-Cable Tec Expo 2016 Video Show Dailies

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 3

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 3

In our Video Show Daily for Day 3 of exhibits at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Philadelphia, BTR Editorial Director Stephen Hardy covers trends in distrib...

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 2

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 2

In our Video Show Daily for the second day of exhibits at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Philadelphia, BTR Editorial Director Stephen Hardy highlights furt...

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 1

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 1

BTR Editorial Director Stephen Hardy reviews the hot technologies and announcements from the first day of exhibits at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016 in P...

Diamond Technology Reviews - 2016 High Scores

2016 Diamond Technology Reviews Slideshow

2016 Diamond Technology Reviews Slideshow

Diamond Technology Reviews 2016

Diamond Technology Reviews 2016

BTR's Diamond Technology Reviews, now in its twelfth year, is a technology recognition program wherein vendors serving the broadband cable ...

Related Articles

Cable ONE

2 More AZ Towns Get Cable ONE Gigabit

October 7, 2016

Cable ONE (NYSE:CABO) is expanding its GigaONE gigabit Internet footprin...


Comcast Launches Enterprise IoT Trial

October 6, 2016

Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) announced machineQ, a business trial venture focu...


2016 SCTE Cable-Tec Expo Wrap Up

Whether you couldn't make it to Cable-Tec this year or want to see if you missed anything while you were there, you'll want to join BTR editors Stephen Hardy and Ron Hendrickson as they reveal their picks for the...

October 12, 2016
Sponsored by

Counting the cost: Efficiently transitioning from HFC to FTTH

HFC networks are uniquely positioned to provide compelling and competitive services, and are also uniquely positioned to transition to symmetrical FTTH as commercial requirements demand.  This webinar will d...

Date:September 22, 2016
Sponsored by

Maintaining High Quality of Experience in an Adaptive Bitrate System

This webinar will look at the many points in an ABR system where the video is touched.  From ingest (satellite, file, and IP), to egress, each point should be qualified for compliance to help maintain a high...

Date:August 25, 2016
Sponsored by

White Papers & Special Reports

Cable VoIP 2.0: Voice Moves to the Cloud

October 2016

Cable providers led the charge on the VoIP evolution and won customers and market share. Now voice networks are evolving again. The cloud voice platform has ...

Understanding Ultra High Definition Television

October 2016

Over the last 10 years, high definition television (HDTV) has been replacing standard definition television as the expected viewing format for television pro...

Are You Ready for DOCSIS 3.1? The Future of Cable Technology and How to Prepare Your Network

October 2016

DOCSIS 3.1 promises 10x capacity throughput and a range of technical benefits for cable providers and users alike. Are you ready? Discover the technical adva...

BTR Blogs

BTR Managing Editor Ron Hendrickson

FCC Rethinks Set-Top Plan

September 10, 2016

By Ron Hendrickson - The FCC has reworked the "unlock the set-top b...


In Memoriam: Richard Covell

August 18, 2016

By Rob Stuehrk, Publisher - We at Broadband Technology Report were sadde...

BTR Managing Editor Ron Hendrickson

Court Overturns FCC Municipal Broadband Order

August 11, 2016

By Ron Hendrickson - You win some, and you lose some, and the FCC just l...

Featured Hangouts

4K 4 U: How to Prepare for UltraHD Video

4K 4 U: How to Prepare for UltraHD Video

4K/UltraHD video is coming - consumers are buying the TV sets, and more content is becoming available. Watch this inf...

DOCSIS 3.1: A Look Ahead

DOCSIS 3.1: A Look Ahead

Watch a 30-minute video chat of experts from a variety of related disciplines discuss how close deployments really ar...

Featured Hangout

4K 4 U: How to Prepare for UltraHD Video

4K/UltraHD video is coming - consumers are buying the TV sets, and more content is becoming available. Watch this informative Hangout on demand by clicking the link above.

Sponsored by Verimatrix.