Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mobile video monetization: the need for a mediation layer

Extracted from my latest report, mobile video monetization 2015

[...] What is clear from my perspective, is that the stabilization of the value chain for monetizing video  content in mobile networks is unlikely to happen quickly without an interconnect / mediation layer. OTT and content providers are increasingly collaborating, when it comes to enabling connections and to zero rate data traffic; but monetization plays involving advertising, sponsoring, price comparison, recommendation, geo-localized segmented offering, is really in its infancy.

Publishers are increasing their inventory, announcers are targeting mobile screens, but network operators still have no idea how to enable this model in a scalable manner, presumably because many OTT whose model is ad-dependant are not willing yet to share that revenue without a well-defined value.

Intuitively, there are many elements that today reside in an operator’s network that would enrich and raise the value of ad models in in a mobile environment. Whether performance or impression driven, advertising relies on contextualization for engagement. A large part of that context could/should be whether the user is on wifi, on cellular network, whether he’s at home, work or in transit, whether he is a prepaid or postpaid subscriber, how much data or messaging is left in  its monthly allotment, whether the cell he is in is congested, or whether he is experiencing impairments because he is far from the antenna or because he is being throttled because he is close to the end of his quota,  whether he is roaming or in his home network… The list goes on and on in term of data points that can enrich or prevent a successful engagement in a mobile environment.

On the network front, understanding whether a content is an ad or not, whether it is sponsored or not, whether it is performance or impression-measured, whether it can be modified, replaced or removed at all from a delivery would be tremendously important to categorize and manage traffic accurately.

Of course, part of the problem is that no announcer, content provider, aggregator or publisher want to have to cut deals with the 600+ mobile network operators and the 800+ MVNO  individually if they do not have to.

Since there is no standard API to really exchange these data in a meaningful, yet anonymized fashion, the burden resides on the parties to, on a case by case basis, create the basis for this interaction, from a technical and commercial standpoint. This is not scalable and won’t work fast enough for the market to develop meaningfully.
This is not the first time a similar problem occurred in mobile networks, and whether about data network or messaging interconnection, roaming, or inter-network settlements, IPX and interconnect companies have emerged to facilitate the pain of mediating traffic, settlements between networks.

There is no reason that a similar model shouldn’t work for connecting mobile networks, announcers and OTT providers in a meaningful clearing house type of partnership. There is no technical limitation here, it just needs a transactional engine separating control plane from data plane integrated with ad networks, IPX and  a meaningful API to  carry on the control plane subscriber together with session information both ways (from the network to the content provider and vice versa). Companies who could make this happen could be traditional IPX providers such as Syniverse, but it is more likely that company with more advertising DNA such as Opera, Amazon or Google would be better bets. [...]

1 comment:

Jerry Kramskoy said...

It's an interesting idea introducing a control point. The scary bit is around the QoS/E "guarantees" made between the OTT and the MNO. In broadcast TV, short of a major disaster, the distribution mechanism is extremely reliable, with all resources managed across the broadcast network. An ad slot can be pretty much guaranteed to be filled as expected, once purchased. And if that goes wrong, the broadcaster is, I believe,liable financially. But move over to a mobile network, such guarantees are incredibly hard to make, given the variables involved. Where video streaming technologies involve TCP (and standards are settling in that direction), the forward error correction on the mobile becomes more and more vital to avoid retries, hence bad experience. If resources are "booked" over the RAN, to try and guarantee service, it's not hard to imagine failure to maintain the service level as the user moves across cells.