At CES, OTT Stacks Up

LAS VEGAS — If there was a consistent OTT theme running trough CES here this week it was about the need for solutions providers to move up the monetization stack as over-the-top streaming becomes a more important component of media companies’ bottom lines.

Previously focused on largely on video delivery and optimization as content traveled across the web, technology providers like cbs all accessConviva, Ooyala, Nagra and Adobe are increasingly focusing on building tools designed to help media companies make sure direct-to-consumer streaming becomes additive to their current business rather than cannibalistic,by better monetizing OTT viewing and viewers.

“This year we’re very focused on going further up the food chain at media companies,” Adobe’s directly of product marketing for Adobe Primetime Campbell Foster told Concurrent Media. “A lot of our [media] clients are looking to us to help drive net viewer increases, not just service the viewers they already have.”

To that end, Adobe is integrating Primetime, it’s streaming video delivery platform, with Adobe Market Cloud, a suite of cloud-based applications that have not previously been pitched to media and entertainment (M&E) companies.

“OTT companies are looking for ways to reduce churn, and to boost advertising, and to solve the measurement problem,” Foster said.

As part of its new strategy, Adobe is also adding a recommendation engine to Adobe Primetime to help OTT companies keep viewers engaged with the service.

“We think of recommendations as a feature, not a product, so we’re making it a feature of Primetime,” Foster said.

More ambitious still is a new product being rolled out in March in conjunction with Deloitte. Dubbed Market Mix for Media, the new OTT platform pulls together elements of Adobe Marketing Cloud, including Primetime, along with Salesforce.com’s customer management platform and Zuora’s subscription billing engine to offer a turnkey solution for media companies looking to go direct-to-consumer.

“We call it OTT in a box,” Foster said.

Video optimization services provider Conviva is also looking to move up the monetization stack.

“When we started out we were mostly talking to the tech ops guys, because it was all about optimizing the stream,” Conviva CTO Keith Zubchevich told Concurrent Media at CES. “Now, we’re spending more time talking to the marketing people and the business-side people because they’re realizing they need to understand how video performance affects their business, not just their user’s experience.”

Those sorts of insights are virgin territory for a lot of media companies, Conviva’s VP of marketing Simon Jones added, because media companies traditionally licensed their content through a handful of distributors who were responsible for the consumer experience. Media companies got paid either way.

As media companies find themselves engaging much more directly with consumers, however, they need to better understand the relationship between the consumer’s experience and preference and their own bottom lines.

That realization is even starting to attract service providers from outside the traditional M&E industries. Cloud services provider Infor, for instance, which generally competes with the likes of Oracle and SAP in verticals such as financial services and health care, recently launched a new unit focused on the M&E vertical.

It’s goal is to provide M&E companies with a suite of cloud-based marketing, billing, CRM and audience targeting tools to help those companies make the transition from a largely B2B licensing model to an increasingly direct-to-consumer subscription model.

Successfully navigating that transition will require traditional media companies to learn a lot of new tricks. But if CES is any indication, there won’t be any shortage of service providers offering to teach them.

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