The set-top box has come a long way over the past few years, and its journey certainly isn't over. And if marketers and advertisers want to tap into the promise of new targeting opportunities emerging in the TV and video space, they need to understand the latest capabilities that are being rolled out by giants such as Comcast.
During the keynote presentation on Monday at the iMedia Video Summit in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Marcien Jenckes, senior vice president and general manager of video services at Comcast, discussed the ways in which his company and others are adapting to the new viewing habits of consumers. Time-shifting is now integrated into how people want to watch television, and this paradigm shift has altered the media ecosystem and challenged how programming gets monetized and promoted.
"We're seeing people use different screens together and consume content across multiple screens both in and out of the home," Jenckes said. As such, video-on-demand (VOD) is an area where Comcast and others are funneling great energy in terms of understanding viewer behavior and better monetizing audiences via dynamic ad insertions.
But that hasn't always been the case, Jenckes noted. When advertising technology provider Canoe emerged five years ago, the company (backed by Comcast and five other cable providers) promised to be the silver bullet that would enable interactive TV and dynamic ad insertion across the board. But that silver bullet was never fired.
It wasn't until a couple of years ago that Comcast reevaluated its work with Canoe and decided to focus less on promising and more on delivering, Jenckes said. The company opted to reorient specifically toward developing dynamic opportunities within VOD -- opportunities that, today, have become a reality.
In addition, Jenckes noted that Comcast is also reenvisioning set-top boxes and their possibilities. About a year ago, Comcast launched its next-generation set-top box. "It used to be that we asked the box to do all the work," he said. "But now, we take a lot of what the set-top box does and put it in the cloud. It allows us to personalize and create a better experience, and it allows us to introduce services we never thought of."
Jenckes noted that marketers need to be aware of the evolution of the set-top box as it relates to three points:
Measurement: The next generation of set-top boxes will break down historic barriers in audience and effectiveness measurements by enabling marketers to better gauge who precisely is watching content and when.
Personalization: Set-top boxes will increasingly enable better content recommendations based on who is in the room. These days, 70 percent of the content viewed on Netflix is recommended content, Jenckes said. That's only the case with 1 percent of content watched via Comcast. But that percentage will be shifting.
Monetization: The dream of serving the right ad to the right person at the right time will no longer be a dream. The next generation of set-top boxes is increasingly enabling true dynamic ad insertions.
Lori Luechtefeld is editor of iMedia Connection.