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February 21, 2019

The Power of Virtualization is Coming to Video

A still from the promotional video for the Samsung Galaxy S6.

What if you could search a video, just like Google? This would give the marketing world an ability to tailor content like never before. Well, that future could be closer than you think.

From VCRs and DVDs to live feeds and MP4s, the humble video may have kept its staple name in the years since its inception but the way it is accessed, managed and manipulated has changed dramatically – and it’s not going to stop evolving any time soon. 

When it comes to the future of content in the digital age, there is no question video is, and will continue to be, King. Whether it’s advertising, news sites, sportscasting, social media, education and even surveillance, video has immersed itself in our everyday lives.

Cisco forecasts that video will dominate the global online landscape, accounting for 80 percent of all internet traffic by 2021, increasing its online presence at a rapid 31 percent annually.

In particular the United States OTT sector (video streaming delivered over the internet without the control of a traditional distributor), including SVOD (subscription-based services like Netflix), is estimated to grow to US$30.6 billion by 2022, at an annual growth rate of almost nine per cent.

So what will the next video revolution look like? And how will it impact content creation and advertising?

The answer: virtualisation.

Stay Tuned: Virtualisation Unpacked

In a nutshell, video virtualisation exposes the data within traditional digital video, enabling content to be searched, spliced and manipulated at an iframe-level, for the first time.

A recent Orbis Research report highlighted that opportunities in virtualisation software had been tested by market leaders including Microsoft, VMware and Red Hat Software, and noted that Linius Technologies, Ericsson and Cisco (which has since sold its virtualisation to Synamedia) were among the few companies globally considering the potential of virtualisation for video.

Video virtualisation turns static video files into a malleable form; Digital video files are singular, static blocks of data, which can be thought of as being sealed in a ‘container’ – an MPEG of AVI format.

A static video file can be turned into an interactive format through video virtualisation – allowing videos to be indexed, parsed and spliced with other videos, and ultimately become searchable – bringing the easy-to-search and personalised functions of Google to video.

Revolutionising Bespoke Programming

Linius Technologies has developed a patented Video Virtualisation Engine (VVE), letting users instantly search for – and assemble – data across an infinite number of video sources, compiling it into a single video stream that’s ready for immediate playback.

In early 2018 Linius integrated its patented VVE with US-based higher education services provider MediaAMP’s video-first digital media asset management platform, to facilitate faster learning for university students.

In action, VVE could enable a nursing student, for example, to search for instances where the phrase ‘required dosage’ is used and years of recorded lectures could be stitched together without the need to edit any video footage.

In another application, let’s say you’re a diehard Los Angeles Lakers basketball fan; with video virtualisation you could pull together all the slam dunks, alley-oops and 3-pointers in your own bespoke NBA 2019 highlights reel.

“There is all this data around what is happening in the video, we’re able to extract the pieces and parts of the video that are relevant to the user,” said Linius CEO Chris Richardson.

“So instead of watching that whole video, the user can search for certain parts of it and create their own video.”

Video virtualisation can also unlock commercial opportunities for organisations – enabling content providers to deliver personalised content experiences to subscribers.

This means that, for the very first time, broadcasters and streaming companies can track and analyse hyper-granular content consumption habits — down to the frame-level for individual consumers, delivering personalised content experiences to subscribers, for which they can charge a premium.

Cut Through to Customers

The benefits of video virtualisation extends to advertisers, pushing hyper-targeted promotions to individuals by matching subscriber demographic data with frame-level consumption data.

Video virtualisation takes dynamic ad insertion to the next level, providing advertisers with a tool that can target ads according to the viewer profile, determined by specific viewing habits.

For example, a makeup company may want to push out advertising for its new lipstick range – through video virtualisation, advertisers can insert personalised ads into video files before they are received by the end user.

Ericsson has kept revenue generating opportunities like this top of mind, with the launch of its fully virtualised video processing platform in 2017.

“We are making it easier to monetise services and drive down processing delivery costs throughout the entire content lifecycle,” said (the now former) Ericsson vice president and head of media solutions, Elisabetta Romano.

“Ericsson simplifies operations for content owners, broadcasters and service providers by enabling the move to complete virtualisation across the media processing delivery chain.”

Synamedia is another company hoping to boost support for multiple video sources, such as live and on-demand services, but also bolster better targeted advertising. The company has developed a virtualisation infrastructure known as Synamedia Video Processing (VP). VP has been designed to reduce the complexity of video workflow operations, where users can execute encoding, ad splicing and encrypting (among other functions) on a single production line.

The Future – coming to a Screen Near You

Video virtualisation has the potential to completely transform how video content is produced, delivered and consumed.

And big companies are taking notice.

In early January 2019 one of Europe’s largest media and entertainment companies, Sky, took a stake in Synamedia, to optimise its different video formats and channels.

But it’s not just broadcasters eyeing this new technology.

In 2017 Australia’s largest telecommunications organisation, Telstra, integrated Ericsson’s virtualised MediaFirst Video Processing solution suite to power its video processing data centre, in particular to support the delivery of Telstra’s cloud platform for broadcast media workloads.

Telstra said the use of Ericsson’s MediaFirst suite aligned with its priority to optimise high bandwidth video processing and distribution, and centralise media operation flow through cloud infrastructure.

Technology giants Microsoft, Amazon and IBM have all integrated Linius’ VVE into their video cloud services, available via Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and IBM Cloud, to make video as flexible as all other forms of content and data.

Last year, the Australian chapter of motion pictures company Warner Bros signed a collaboration agreement with Linius for a technical pilot test of an on demand video streaming platform, with the aim to provide content protection through distribution to end user.

Stockholm-based video news service provider Newstag has also signed a commercial deal with Linius, to roll out its VVE technology across its platforms that provide customised newsfeeds to broadcasters.

Linius CEO Chris Richardson said these deals had not only commercially validated the company’s VVE technology, but also the appetite for video virtualisation.

“By matching frame-level consumption data with artificial intelligence and existing behavioural data, broadcasters can deliver personalised news experiences that drive subscription revenue, achieve one-to-one audience segmentation for unparalleled consumer engagement, and slash newsroom production costs,” said Linius CEO Chris Richardson.

Video virtualisation opens up a whole new world of video use cases for everyone. So what are you waiting for?


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Heidi is a financial news specialist and former TV anchor for Bloomberg Television in the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions. She has more than 15 years experience working in business and financial news, generating content for financial publications including Wall Street Journal, Sky News, CNN, CNBC and Forbes.

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