Multiple Paths to SCTE-130 Implementation

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By Carl Weinschenk, Senior Editor

The mechanics of getting the right spot to the right device at the right time are tremendously tricky.

The task involves stringing together a long list of devices that implement standards under the SCTE 130 banner. Essentially, there are five components to the effort, all of which have names that provide good clues as to what they do: The Ad Management Service (ADM), the Ad Decision Service (ADS), the Placement Opportunity Information Service (POIS), the Content Information Service (CIS) and the Subscriber Information Service (SIS), said Chris Hock, the senior vice president of product management for BlackArrow.

An inherent challenge in the introduction of new techniques -- and the move to advanced advertising, including multiscreen placements -- is that it must be rolled out in the context of already deployed infrastructure. This requires some finesse, since each operation is different in overt and subtle ways.

Hock suggested that the components most impacted by operators moving to advanced advertising from existing infrastructures -- in other words, most systems -- are the ADS and the ADM.

Essentially, a request by a subscriber -- say, he or she wants to watch an on-demand episode of Mad Men on a tablet -- sets in motion a string of events that relies upon finding and making use of a tremendous amount of very specific information that is stored in the various elements.

The quarterback engineering that process can be one of two devices. Call the ADM and ADS the Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow of advanced advertising. In a perfect world, a fully functioning ADM would query the other elements and create the complete record of what has to be done to fulfill the task. Not surprisingly, this is labeled the ADM-centric approach.

However, Hock said, many of the ADMs that have been deployed simply don't have the sophistication to handle the job. There are two ways to confront that challenge.

The first -- the ADS-centric approach -- essentially pushes many of the tasks from the ADM to the ADS. "The ADM, in this scenario, just passes the device ID and the time of day," Hock said. "The ADS does exactly what the ADM does in the ADM-centric approach."

There is a third option, which Hock calls "VOD with intermediary." It is, in essence, a proxy that sits in front of a rudimentary ADM and provides it with the functionality that it is missing. Hock said this approach also is useful in its ability to link together totally separate silos in the advertising structure. "Supporting different ADSs is important because different sales organizations (e.g. local vs. national sales) will likely have different ADSs and ad systems," Hock wrote in an email subsequent to an interview.

Hock does not see an ADM-centric versus ADS-centric battle. Rather, it is a scenario in which the preexisting architecture determines the best approach. In any case, the emergence of the great potential of advanced advertising and the comprehensive SCTE 130 suite of protocols to put it in place makes it certain that the next generation of ADMs will be more sophisticated. This makes it likely that the workarounds in the ADS-centric and VOD with intermediary approaches will fade away as time passes.

Carl Weinschenk is the Senior Editor of Broadband Technology Report. Reach him at carl@broadbandtechreport.com.

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