Content distribution can never be the same again in the world of video streaming. To deliver content across multiple platforms and devices, media companies are required to develop several different workflows. However, business intelligence (BI) and media asset management (MAM) systems have the capability to manage the entire content lifecycle, streamlining them into one workflow, as Josephine Tan finds out.
During this Fourth Industrial Revolution, where emerging technologies — such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) — are creating new possibilities in enhancing production techniques, traditional media companies are facing an even more challenging period. A wave of technology changes is impacting their business models, compelling them to transform and redevelop their strategies in order to cater to audiences in the digital space.
For decades, the single and direct way of TV broadcasting has set the bar in media and entertainment. In today’s digital era, however, the Internet has brought significant changes to consumers’ viewing habits, with audiences heightening their expectations in terms of accessibility to quality content and programming.
And with more connected devices, coupled with the continued rise of social media, media companies have to react quickly to audiences’ changing behaviours by accelerating their pace of innovation, which requires fluid modes of content creation and distribution methods.
Owing to the rising demand for TV Everywhere, including social media channels, broadcasters and content providers are faced with increasingly complex workflows, says Parham Azimi, CEO of Cantemo.
He tells APB: “Of course, on the content creation and provision side, more platforms equate to more versions of each item of content. This makes managing that content and distributing it to the right platform at the right time more complex, and more important at the same time.”
In addressing these demands and challenges, Azimi encourages media companies to review their existing workflows, moving them towards a “create once, repurpose often” approach. By creating content that can be easily adapted for different platforms, he adds that media companies can make this process more efficient.
This type of workflow, according to Azimi, also opens up more opportunities for media companies to look at regionalising, or even personalising content for consumers, depending on geographical locations and personal preferences. This, in turn, enables media companies to address the changing demands of today’s audiences.
He elaborates: “Having multiple content versions also represents the importance of being able to manage that content and workflow effectively. For instance, the implementation of MAM systems can help to keep content organised, allowing operators to find the correct version easily.
“In addition, a MAM system should help manage the entire workflow, such as enabling automated workflows — from ingesting content to transcoding assets into the correct format based on specific criteria, enabling access controls, distributing content and sending it to archive.”
Suggesting automation as the most critical element within a MAM system, Azimi explains that automated workflows minimise chances of error, thus enabling media companies to better tailor content to suit their audiences.
“Being able to dynamically control those workflows is also important, as the industry is changing at such a rapid pace, which means business objectives are also changing quickly,” he continues. “Reporting is another crucial element brought forth by business intelligence (BI) and MAM systems, giving media companies an oversight of content, the workflow and consumption patterns. All of this helps operators to adapt when needed, and improve overall efficiency, as well as customer satisfaction.”
ITV, a TV network in the UK, has implemented a campaign management system to streamline the production and delivery of on-air and digital marketing campaigns. The campaigns are targeted at millions of ITV viewers, informing them about up-and-coming ITV programmes, and fill over £270 million (US$372 million) of air-time a year on ITV’s broadcast channels and digital services.
For this project, ITV Technology worked with NMR, a UK-based media technology systems integrator, whose software partners includes Vidispine and Cantemo. Codenamed Project Phoenix, the project combines a media planning application for broadcast and digital media with a MAM system to keep track of video assets.
Matt Scarff, director of ITV creative and events, explains: “The new campaign management system had to work on multiple platforms, be able to integrate across the various marketing, creative and production disciplines, work with our affiliates and partners (UTV, STV, ITV Choice), be Web-based and, as ITV Creative is a vital link in the transmission chain, co-exist with our programme scheduling system, and talk to the team at Ericsson where we play out the UK channels.
“We needed a system that took the complexity and effort out of managing the operational process of handling hundreds of campaign management assets every month. To support our ambition to the best in-house creative agency, we needed a system that would handle broadcast, digital, social and off-air, all in one place.”
Calling the system a “single source of truth” for all the marketing, media planning and creative teams, Scarff and his team spent 12 months to build and configure the system, before integrating it into a host of ITV applications and services used for channel scheduling, channel playout and archive.
For ITV’s marketing teams, the priority is to have access to campaign data, and enter marketing briefs for specific campaigns. This has been achieved by integrating the campaign briefs into Google Apps, allowing users to create a shareable document with a single click. Using the system, the marketing team is able to view the finished campaign assets on the system’s Promo Viewer, and give final approval before sending them onto ITV’s broadcast playout centres.
As for the ITV creative teams tasked to spring up ideas for campaigns, the implementation of the system has enabled them to search for assets and build their own campaign dashboard, so that they can view the works they have been assigned to. Moreover, integration into the Avid production system enables movement of rough cuts and finished assets into the system for review, approval, and delivery to broadcast and digital channels.
ITV also benefited from the installation of the Cantemo Portal, a solution designed to house a pool of videos, audio, still images and other forms of digital media. In a multi-tiered storage environment, Cantemo Portal provides search and playback of the content, wherever it is stored. Additionally, the solution can be integrated with third-party tools such as non-linear editing (NLE) systems, transcoders, distribution engines and archive solutions.
“Having content that is easily discoverable and can be distributed onto multiple platforms in a timely manner ultimately allow media companies to satisfy consumer demand, compete in an increasingly competitive landscape and monetise their content,” Azimi says. “These systems should be future-proof, and the best way to achieve that is to install a modular system where different features and integrations can be added or removed accordingly to needs.”
BI and MAM systems ensure the right content is being distributed to the right platform, at the right time. And the descriptive metadata and timing metadata enable automated workflows, which is necessary for both distributed playout and personalised video content channels, Roger Franklin, CEO for Crystal, points out.
He explains: “Well-decorated content that has descriptive metadata and timing metadata has a much longer lifecycle, because the key segments of that content can be replayed to the right viewer, at the right time and place.
“The descriptive metadata, including distribution rights, should be available from the MAM systems, but the timing metadata can only be extracted from the playout system for content that is ‘aired’ live on traditional TV channels. However, many MAM systems today are not populated with as much descriptive metadata as media companies need them to be.”
As for BI systems, he adds that the solution will have to capture as much information about the viewer as possible, and the data might have to be shared with distribution partners.
Franklin continues: “When combined, media companies can ensure that content be properly personalised and monetised by distributing it accordingly to the correct platform in a timely manner. Especially for over-the-top (OTT) services, it is also important to be able to include right advertisements, depending on the viewers, the distribution rights, and the content.
“Having automated systems in place to replace ads or dynamically adjust geographical overlays at precisely the right time, and for the correct duration, is absolutely critical.”
For Asia-Pacific, he says that it is a fragmented market with a mobile population made up of many different cultures, customs and languages. Language and preference can no longer be defined by country borders, bringing forth the effectiveness of content personalisation, he adds.
Stressing that metadata is often overlooked by media companies across the globe, including Asia, Franklin highlights that the value of metadata to OTT is “undeniable”. He explains: “For content owners looking to compete in the OTT market, an ability to reduce cost, shorten time-to-market, and unleash the potential for revenue by developing personalised advertisement and personalised content, is of irrefutable value.”
Cantemo’s Azimi agrees with Franklin’s point on metadata, and elaborates: “Metadata is crucial for media provision and management. Most providers are using it to some degree to keep track on media files and enable automated workflows based on specific metadata.”
iconik is Cantemo’s media aggregation platform that uses AI to extract metadata based on the specific content within the media asset. With iconik, users are able to tag video and images based on their content while reviewing suggested tags and requesting approval on items.
“This is an area that has the potential to be a game-changer for media management,” Azimi claims. “Providers need to reduce man hours on managing content, as this enables them to make the process of producing, editing and distributing content much quicker. This could make all the difference when it comes to attracting viewers.”
For MediaGeniX, the company’s flagship product is WHATS’ON, a broadcast management software platform that is designed to manage the flow of the content lifecycle. To allow media companies to better target content to their audiences, MediaGeniX has integrated modules that addresses: Linear scheduling, video-on-demand (VoD) scheduling, rights and finance management, material management, promotional and interstitials — compliance and regulations, workflow automation, as well as reporting.
Describing the content-centric solution as the backbone for media operations, Johan Vanmarcke, managing director, Asia, MediaGeniX, highlights that WHATS’ON manages the flow of content as it moves from initial concept in the long-term plan to fully prepared and formatted material — complete with promos and secondary events — allocated to diverse linear channels and VoD services.
And as the media and entertainment industry becomes more complex with the rise of more distribution platforms across broadcast, broadband streaming, VoD and mobile, and as content can be scheduled and distributed regionally and globally across several platforms, media companies then have to manage more workflows. These include risk and compliance, contracts and rights management, as well as media material requirements, says Vanmarcke.
He concludes: “Media companies differentiate themselves by providing content that their consumers want to consume. To do this, they must have a better understanding of their customer, and develop a customer profile resulting in improved personalisation of content creation and delivery.
“To manage this complexity from a business operation’s point of view, and having all departments working together, this is where WHATS’ON comes in. WHATS’ON streamlines, automates and optimises the core business processes of media companies. Through the process, WHATS’ON ensures operators stay within budgets, deliver quality media, reach their editorial targets, and comply with regulatory requirements.”