SnapStream Blog

How TV & Cable Networks Should Gear Up for a Future of Addressable TV Ads (Part 3 of 3)

September 24 2019 by Tina Nazerian

SnapStream Series: The Future of Broadcast Monitoring & Compliance 

This is the third blog post of a three-part series on a future of addressable TV ads 

 james-shears-photo                                                                                   

 

Key Takeaways

As broadcast TV advertising becomes addressable, TV and cable networks will have new opportunities to generate revenue. To prepare for this future, ad sellers at TV and cable networks should: 

1) think about delivery mechanisms for commercials, including leveraging ACR/smart TVs 

2) consider making different versions of an ad for brands 

3) create test opportunities for ad buyers 

 


 

Earlier in our series, we looked into how Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) and local TV stations should prepare for a future of addressable TV advertisements. TV and cable networks have to get ready for that future too. 


James Shears, the Vice President of Advanced Advertising at Extreme Reach, a creative asset management platform that helps ads get to the screens they need to be, has advice on how TV and cable networks can position themselves to take advantage of this future.


Think About Delivery Mechanisms for Commercials

Shears says that TV and cable networks need to think about their delivery mechanisms for commercials. They can run addressable advertisements through the MVPDs and set-top boxes, and they can also use OTT and smart TVs, which rely a lot on Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) data. 

Shears says that MVPDs store every ad on the set-top box, which means the ads are pre-cached for play-out. On the other hand, because OTT and ACR/smart TVs leverage IP to deliver ads, the ads get served in a more real-time manner. 

TV and cable networks, he adds, already rely on MVPDs to deliver their content in the linear world. 

“MVPDs have a lot of power, so they would control the technology and aren’t as incentivized as smaller players to build customized tech,” he says. “The MVPDs also already have the economics worked out within the space, and can drive the business discussions. It’s wrapped up within the carriage agreements of the content on linear TV.” 

He explains that by going outside the MVPD route, TV and cable networks may earn more power and could push for more customized technology. And because the economics and business models of the OTT and ACR/smart TV worlds aren’t completely defined yet, “there’s room at the table for more discussion.”  

However, Shears recommends that it's probably best for TV and cable networks to use all of those options. 

“To have a successful addressable campaign, you need scale, and the broadcaster has to decide the best way to do that," Shears says. “In the current environment, it’s probably prudent to explore all avenues available. From there, the market may help decide on the tech that works best and can scale quickly.”

  

Segment Inventory at the Appropriate Level, and Consider "Creative Versioning" 

Shears estimates that TV and cable networks in the United States have between 13 and 18 minutes of commercial time per hour—which amounts to between $66 billion and $70 billion in ad revenue per year. 

Ad sellers at TV and cable networks need to make sure that they’re segmenting their inventory at an appropriate level, given that addressable means “essentially splitting the units” they would typically run.

“Instead of showing, say, JCPenney to the entire country, you might show a portion of the country JCPenney and a portion of the country a Ford ad or a Coca-Cola ad,” Shears says. 

He also stresses that it wouldn’t make sense for them to make every single unit addressable “this early on,” though it will eventually. He recommends that ad sellers at TV and cable networks think through their business models, and consider whether or not it would make sense to do what he calls “creative versioning.” 

“You sell one spot to Ford, as an example, and so the entire country will see a Ford ad,” he says. “But maybe one viewer sees a sports car ad and another sees a minivan ad. You're still selling the entire spot, but you're creating different versions for brands.” 

It’s also important for those ad sellers to identify inventory. Linear TV has a finite amount of inventory—for example, 15 minutes of non-programming time per hour. The broadcaster sets the market price for the commercials that will fill those 15 minutes. 

“Addressable in the linear TV space requires a slot to show the commercial to the viewer,” Shears says. “That means, it too has to take part of that 15 minutes. If that is true, it really becomes an economics exercise. If the broadcaster now can’t sell the same amount of inventory as before, how does it manage the yield?” 

Shears suggests that the broadcaster looks at the lowest yield it currently has on its books, and replaces it with addressable. 

“That’s really a decision for the broadcaster to ensure it can still maintain the same or hopefully more incremental revenue,” he says.

 

Get Buy-In from Advertisers 

Of course, Shears notes that addressable advertising will only be successful if ad sellers at TV and cable networks get buy-in from advertisers. To get that buy-in, they should create test opportunities for ad buyers. 

“It would depend on the brand, because HGTV has different advertisers than ESPN or Lifetime," he says. "Ad sellers should identify an opportunity within their endemic advertisers. So if it's HGTV, maybe the advertisers are Home Depot or Lumber Liquidators. They could then create opportunities based around those types of genres.” 

Shears says that addressable ads allow advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. Discussions between ad sellers and ad buyers need to happen before campaigns start so everyone understands the success metric. Once that is understood, ad sellers can design campaigns appropriately. 

“This is not a set it and forget it type of product.”

 

Update November 27, 2019: A new report from Rethink TV found that addressable TV advertising will grow rapidly in the coming years, increasing from $15.6 billion in total worldwide revenue in 2019 to $85.5 billion by 2025. The report also found that this growth in addressable TV advertising will happen in "all sectors of pay TV and all major geographies" over the next six years. 


With SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance, you can monitor your feeds for regulatory compliance and advertising proof of performance. Our solution includes closed captioning verification, loudness monitoring, audio watermark detection, and more. SnapStream also offers tools for searching TVsharing TV clips to Twitter, Facebook, and more; and sharing clips of live events to social media in real-time. 

How Local TV Stations Should Prepare for a Future of Addressable TV Ads (Part 2 of 3)

September 19 2019 by Tina Nazerian

SnapStream Series: The Future of Broadcast Monitoring & Compliance 

This is the second blog post of a three-part series on a future of addressable TV ads 

 james-shears-photo                                                                                   

 

Key Takeaways

Addressable advertising can help local TV stations grow their revenues. To prepare for a future of addressable broadcast TV advertising, ad sellers at local TV stations should:

1) focus on their advertising sweet spots—for example, the automotive industry 

2) find different ways to get viewers' geographic location and geolocation data

3) segment viewers in a specific way, such as who is in the market for a pickup truck

 


 

As broadcast TV advertising is becoming addressable, it’s not just Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) such as Verizon, Comcast, and DirecTV who have to gear up for that future


Local TV stations have to prepare as well—and James Shears, the Vice President of Advanced Advertising at Extreme Reach, a creative asset management platform that helps ads get to the screens they need to be, has tips on how they can do so.


Think About Geographic Location, Geolocation, and Advertising Sweet Spots

Shears says that for local TV stations, addressable advertising is geared toward both geographic location and geolocation. 

“It’s really about understanding where the consumer is,” he says. “Can you target based on zip code? Can you target based on location derived from a cell phone? The answer is yes.” 

Local TV stations also need to consider what their advertising strong suits are. 

“Your sweet spots are probably automotive, sometimes real estate and finance, and sometimes quick service restaurants—all things that are really bundled up with geolocation,” Shears says. “The first thing that you should think about is the automotive industry.” 

For example, Shears says that ad buyers at tier two auto dealerships (a group of regional dealerships who have pooled ad budgets), stipulate a simplistic targeting approach, such as wanting to reach viewers within a particular zip code. 

However, ad sellers at local TV stations should try to segment their audience in a more specific way. For instance, they could identify viewers who are in the market for a pickup truck. 

 

Seek Different Ways to Get Viewers' Geographic Location and Geolocation

Shears says that local TV stations have several options when it comes to getting their viewers’ geographic location and geolocation data. 

Sometimes, they can use authenticated opportunities to gather first-party data. Maybe they have an app that people need to sign-in to use, or maybe they can run a sweepstakes online which viewers have to give their email addresses or names and physical addresses to enter. 

Local TV stations can partner with data companies to get that data too. 

“The stations should focus on those companies that offer insight into first, the home where the TV actually is,” Shears says. “And look at some forms of device graphs to measure effectiveness. Did the person that saw the ad go to car showroom, as an example?”

Additionally, Shears notes that the ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard will create data opportunities for local TV stations. 

“It will provide different data points,” Shears says. “Now, that's probably a year or two away, but what it does is it allows you to leverage IP addresses, and from IP addresses you can kind of back in to your audience. Obviously, it would be anonymized, but you can figure out their location and census-level information, typically about who would be in that household, et cetera. That will help you build out your data profile.”

 

Get Specific Data About Viewers

How can local broadcasters get very specific information about viewers, like who is the market for a pickup truck? 

“Some of it is behavioral,” Shears explains. “You can kind of figure out what shows they’re watching. If you're a local broadcaster, you're probably hyper-focused on news. You can get some insights in terms of what stories are really resonating with people—are there things throughout the daytime block that they're really focused on?” 

From there, he says a local broadcaster can partner with a data company that does “look-alike modeling,” which is also a common technique in online advertising. That means the data company will find audiences that look like one another. It would look at the characteristics of a specific segment, and then go find audiences that are similar. 

To trace that information back to particular viewers, local broadcasters can partner further with MVPDs, which have the viewership data that happens on their set-top boxes. From there, the MVPDs could pinpoint viewers in an anonymous, privacy-compliant way. 

Shears also points to Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology, which is quickly hitting mainstream. Smart TVs, he says, rely a lot on ACR data. Since they’re connected to the internet, they operate from an IP address. 

“From the IP address, data safe havens can be used to pull attributes from that specific household,” he explains. “Really, the companies can apply census-level information. On top of that, smart TVs and ACR technology can capture genres of shows, engagement scores, and so forth. Because of that, these data sets could be quite comprehensive, covering both behavioral and demographic.” 

Local broadcasters can also turn to Nielsen, which packages up “vast amounts of data,” including census-level information on who is watching particular programming. Nielsen also has data on things such as “overnight ratings for quick insights.” 

Ultimately, Shears believes that there are so many data sets and vendors available that local broadcasters should not focus on one option.


With SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance, you can monitor your feeds for regulatory compliance and advertising proof of performance. Our solution includes closed captioning verification, loudness monitoring, audio watermark detection, and more. SnapStream also offers tools for searching TVsharing TV clips to Twitter, Facebook, and more; and sharing clips of live events to social media in real-time. 

Closed Captioning on TV in the United States: 101

September 11 2019 by Tina Nazerian

closed-captioning-logo-closed-captioning-compliance

                                                                                                                           

Key Takeaways

In the United States, viewers can decide to turn on closed captions while watching TV. Closed captions: 

1) can appear in two different forms

2) are created differently depending on the type of programming 

3) fall under the FCC in the United States 

 


 

Have you ever seen text on your TV while watching the news or your favorite show? What you saw were probably closed captions. 

In the United States, closed captions refer to the transcription of a program’s audio that a viewer can choose to turn on.

Closed Captions vs. Subtitles in the United States 

In the United States, closed captions and subtitles look similar, but a major difference between them is their purpose. Whereas closed captions are typically used by viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing, subtitles are typically used by viewers who don't understand a video's original language, and need it translated via on-screen text. In some parts of the world, the term "subtitles" is used to refer to both use cases. 

 

 

Types of Closed Captioning on TV

surfing

An example of pop-on captions. 

 

 

Bloomberg-1

An example of roll-up captions. 

Closed captions can appear in two different forms. Live broadcasts will typically have roll-up captions, while pre-recorded broadcasts will typically have pop-on captions. 

When the second line in a roll-up caption format begins, the first line shifts up to make space for that second line. The next text always appears in the same location, while the older text always moves up. With pop-on captions, however, entire blocks of text show up all at once. 

Additionally, there are two standards of closed captions for broadcast television. EIA-608 captions (also known as CEA-608 captions and Line 21 captions) “were the old standard for closed captioning of analog television,” writes Emily Griffin for 3Play Media, whereas EIA-708 captions (also known as CEA-708 captions) are “the new standard for closed captioning of digital television.” 708 captions are usually what you’ll see in over-the-air broadcasts today. 

608 captions allow for 2 bytes of data per frame of video, often called “byte pairs.” Sometimes those bytes are letters. With 608 captions, caption writers have customization options, including the ability to change the text’s foreground and background color. 708 captions, however, have ten times the bitrate of 608 captions. That makes 708 captions more customizable than 608 captions. For example, 708 captions support eight different fonts, as well as many more foreground and background colors and opacity values. 

Feature 708 608
Background Colors 64 8
Foreground Colors 64 8
Edge Colors 64 0
Font Choice  Yes (8 fonts)  No (whatever TV renders) 
Font Can Be Underlined Yes  Yes
Font Can Be Italicized  Yes  Yes
Font Size Option  Yes (3 font sizes)  No (just 1 font size) 

 

How TV Captions are Made

According to the Media Access Group at WGBH, an organization that has led the way for captioning and described media, captions are made differently depending on the type of programming. 

The Media Access Group at WGBH explains that for pre-produced programs like drama series, trained caption writers, “using special captioning software, transcribe the audio portion of a program into a computer, inserting codes that determine when and where each caption will appear on the TV screen.” 

After the captions have been properly “timed and placed,” the data is “then recorded, or encoded, onto a copy of the master videotape.” Afterwards, a “decoder attached to or built into a television receiver can render the captions visible.” Because these captions are created in advance, they can come close to being completely accurate. 

The process is different for live programs. As the Media Access Group at WGBH notes, “captions created for live broadcast are not timed or positioned and rarely convey information other than the spoken dialogue. The data is encoded into the broadcast signal continuously as the program airs.” 

Live captions will typically have a time delay between 5 - 10 seconds. The delay isn’t constant, and can vary even within a particular program.

There are four different ways of captioning live programming: 

  1. stenographic captioning
  2. manual live display 
  3. electronic newsroom
  4. hybrid system

 

image3

The color choices seen in Adobe Premiere Pro while creating 608 captions. 

 

image5

The color choices seen in Adobe Premiere Pro while making 708 captions. 

Legal Requirements for Broadcasters 

Under the FCC’s rules, in the United States, both distributors (TV stations as well as cable and satellite providers) and program producers are responsible for closed captioning compliance, explains communications lawyer Scott Flick

“For this reason, most distributors expect their program producers to provide them with a certification that the producer has followed the FCC’s best practices for captioning, which protects the distributor from fines if the captioning is deficient—unless the distributor knew that the producer’s certification was false,” Flick adds. 

The FCC states that closed captions on TV should be accurate, synchronous, complete, and properly placed. The FCC explains that it understands that there are “greater hurdles involved with captioning live and near-live programming,” and as such, distinguishes between pre-recorded, live, and near-live programming in its rules. 

However, the FCC offers some self-implementing exemptions from the closed captioning rules. For example, one self-implementing exemption is for instructional programming that is “locally produced by public television stations for use in grades K-12 and post secondary schools.” The FCC also has “economically burdensome” exemptions.

Viewers can directly report closed captioning issues to their video programming distributor, or file their complaints with the FCC, who will then send it to the video programming distributor. 

Once the video programming distributor has gotten the complaint, it must respond within 30 days. If a video programming distributor wasn’t compliant, or can’t prove that it was compliant, it could face fines. 

Flick notes that the FCC doesn’t have a “base fine” for captioning violations—it deems each episode of a program with defective captions to be a separate violation. 

“As a result, even a modest ‘per episode’ fine can add up quickly once multiplied by the number of programs that were not properly captioned.” 


With SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance, you can monitor your feeds for regulatory compliance and advertising proof of performance. Our solution includes closed captioning verification, loudness monitoring, audio watermark detection, and more. SnapStream also offers tools for searching TVsharing TV clips to Twitter, Facebook, and more; and sharing clips of live events to social media in real-time. 

How MVPDs Should Prepare for a Future of Addressable TV Ads (Part 1 of 3)

September 10 2019 by Tina Nazerian

SnapStream Series: The Future of Broadcast Monitoring & Compliance 

This is the first blog post of a three-part series on a future of addressable TV ads 

 james-shears-photo                                                                                   

 

Key Takeaways

Broadcast TV advertising is becoming addressable, meaning new opportunities for MVPDs to grow their revenues. To prepare for this future, ad sellers at MVPDs should: 

1) assemble data from their in-house databases and also partner with third-party data companies  

2) consider their viewers' geolocations 

3) collaborate with advertisers to hone in on the audiences they want to reach

 


 

Broadcast TV advertising is becoming addressable, meaning advertisers can better segment and target prospective customers. 

James Shears is the Vice President of Advanced Advertising at Extreme Reach, a creative asset management platform that helps ads get to the screens they need to be. He was previously at Dish Network, where he started the world’s first impression-by-impression platform for linear addressable TV

“TV typically has a finite amount of inventory,” Shears explains. But addressable environments “create additional opportunities for revenue.” 

According to Shears, TV is moving towards an IP-delivered future. And when everything becomes IP-delivered, whether or not viewers are watching programming on set-top boxes, content owners and advertisers will have to think about addressable advertisements, and about personalizing ads as well. 

He explained that most of the addressable ads viewers see today are still the same ads they would see if they were watching linear TV. 

“You’re delivered a product that you’re probably in the market for, but it doesn’t mean that the ad is catered to you specifically.” 

Advertisers need to ask themselves how they can make their ads more dynamic and personalized to drive engagement. They need to create the appropriate experience for prospective customers, and get an appropriate ad in front of them. 

“If you’re running addressable and you’re running the same copies that you would typically, it’s really going to fall flat,” Shears says.  

Of course, it’s not just advertisers who have to prepare for a future of addressable advertising on TV—broadcasters obviously have to as well. Here are Shears’ tips on how ad sellers at Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) such as Verizon, Comcast, and DirecTV, can navigate addressable advertising. 


Dive into the Data

One benefit MVPDs have? Because they’re sending bills, they have a good amount of information on their subscriber base, including names and addresses. 

“Addressable is really run by the data,” Shears says. 

He says MVPDs need to spend time sifting through what that data actually means. By partnering with a data company (such as Experian, LiveRamp, Neustar, Epsilon, and Acxiom), an MVPD would get a more high-level view of who exactly makes up its customer-base. 

“In most instances, these data companies provide two functions,” he explains. “First, they are database management companies, so they house CRM lists for brands. Second, they act as a safe haven for matching purposes. In that scenario, the MVPD would pass their subscriber file to the safe haven, who would then match that list with other census-level information to create a truer picture of who lives in the household.”

MVPDs should create census-level information around households for off-the-shelf segments, such as age, gender, presence of children, household income, and education level. They could then determine if those segments are appropriate for advertisers. 

Shears also thinks that MVPDs should get more customized with their data offerings—they “should be working with their advertisers to help them come up with interesting segmentation around the brands’ first party data” such as “heavy users of a particular product.” 

MVPDs might also have opportunities to leverage viewership data. For example, perhaps a particular segment of an audience consistently watches a certain program or genre. 

 

Consider Viewers’ Geolocation

A crucial piece of data MVPDs have on their subscribers is their geolocation. Because they know the physical home addresses of their consumers, they can create targeting segments around those locations. 

For example, maybe a subscriber lives within a two-mile radius of a McDonald’s and a Burger King. 

“That probably means they're more apt to be responsive” to ads for both of those fast food chains. 

Additionally, since MVPDs have their viewers’ home addresses, they can “back into” the IP addresses of those homes. 

“Once they have that, they could essentially create a device graph of all the devices in the home that are pinging the home IP address,” Shears notes. “That information is valuable both from a targeting perspective and also a measurement/attribution perspective.”

 

Dig Into The Exact Audience Advertisers Want To Reach

Ad sellers at MVPDs can brainstorm what some of the most popular targeting segments are (for example, maybe it’s those in the market for a car, or those with children), but Shears stresses the importance of having conversations with their advertisers to determine what it is that they’re looking for. 

If a brand is an auto manufacturer, for example, the client will probably want to reach consumers in the market for a car. If a brand is a restaurant, it would probably be more interested in geolocation targeting. 

“You need to think about ways that you can address people in the appropriate way, so you can target at the appropriate level,” Shears says. 

The first question MVPDs should ask advertisers is what metric they’re trying to measure.

Then, Shears says, MVPDs need to learn about advertisers’ consumers. They should ask advertisers questions that are “more defined than the traditional age/gender type of targeting that is done in linear television today.” Two examples of questions MVPDs could ask advertisers are “‘What does a client of the brand typically look like?’” and “Who are the typical heavy users of the product?’” 

Once ad sellers at MVPDs find out what an advertiser wants, they can help them measure and sculpt out their KPIs. Then, they can drive responses for the advertiser.

Ultimately, Shears explains, MVPDs have to make addressable “super easy” for advertisers to try out. He says that a first-time advertiser is probably seeking to target more off-the-shelf segments, such as household income, presence of children, and education level. That advertiser will generate brand awareness and increase sales. 

“To really benefit from addressable, though, they’ll want to come back and customize segments rather than use off-the-shelf segments.” 


With SnapStream's broadcast monitoring and compliance product, you will be able to monitor your feeds for regulatory compliance and advertising proof of performance. SnapStream includes as-run log integration, loudness compliance, and more. You can also use SnapStream to search, clip, and share live and recorded TV. 

How 3 Broadcast Industry Professionals Would Evaluate Their Next Broadcast Monitoring and Compliance Solution

August 29 2019 by Tina Nazerian

newshutterstock_146581445                                                                                                                                                             sirtravelalot/Shutterstock

A great broadcast monitoring and compliance product is the difference between being prepared with evidence or scrambling when a customer files a loudness complaint with the FCC, an advertising client alleges that an ad didn’t run properly, a viewer claims that captions didn’t run properly, and more. 

It’s crucial to properly evaluate any broadcast monitoring and compliance system prior to making a purchasing decision. SnapStream asked a few anonymous industry professionals—a studio broadcast engineer at a local television station group, a maintenance engineering director at a cable company, and a field operations director at a Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (MVPD)—how they would evaluate their next broadcast monitoring and compliance solution. Here’s a selection of the questions they told us they would ask. 

 

Maintenance Engineering Director, Cable Company 

Question they’d ask: “Which current mandated compliance monitoring features does the product support?”

Our take: A baseline piece of information to determine is which of the things required by law in your country the product will log and monitor. 

For example, in the United States, all video programming distributors need to close caption their TV programs. They also have to follow the CALM Act, which states that the audio of TV commercials can’t be over a certain amount louder than the TV program they’re accompanying. 

Any broadcast monitoring and compliance product that you’re considering should equip you to meet your country’s regulatory requirements. 

Question they’d ask: “Which business required monitoring features does the product support?” 

Our take: In addition to regulatory compliance, broadcasters have to deal with business required monitoring. Take Nielsen Audio Watermarks—they are an integral part of Nielsen ratings, which give broadcasters important information about the audience size and composition. If your organization embeds Nielsen Audio Watermarks, for instance, make sure that the system has a detection method in place to alert you when the watermarks aren’t present. 

Additionally, you might need to use your broadcast monitoring and compliance system for advertising proof of performance. Showing your advertisers exactly how their ad ran—and that the beginning and end of the ad didn’t clip—can help you sell more ads. 

Question they’d ask: “Is the product capable of meeting future needs/functionality in a SMPTE 2110, Dolby Atmos, 4K, and streaming (D2C) world?”

Our take: As the broadcast monitoring and compliance space goes through technological changes, it’s important that any product you’re evaluating has a team behind it that’s constantly staying on top of new developments and iterating. In the broadcast monitoring and compliance world, this means having a path to SMPTE 2110 support (SDI over IP workflows with uncompressed and compressed video), Dolby's latest standard for audio (Dolby Atmos), 4K video, and IP ingest and monitoring for OTT channel monitoring. 

If standards and business needs change, you want your system to change too.

 

Studio Broadcast Engineer, Local Television Station Group

Question they’d ask: “What kind of configurability does the product have and does it support your custom workflows?"

Our take: Maybe in addition to recording everything, you want to record at a lower bitrate to save storage, or create and share clips of your recordings. Or integrate to your cloud storage provider like Amazon S3 or your online video player (OVP) like Brightcove or Ooyala.

A system that has the right configuration options and custom workflows can help you save time.

Question they’d ask: “How long is this system going to go before I need to reboot it?”

Our take: Asking about a system’s long-term stability  is important. Whether you’re tracking your feeds for loudness compliance, ad verification, air checks, or something else, it’s crucial that the system you’re using has high availability—ideally, it can run for weeks and months continuously.

If the system requires frequent reboots, your logs will be incomplete, not to mention the extra hassle involved in administration and maintenance.

 

Field Operations Director, Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (MVPD)

Question they’d ask: “How does this product allow me to be as proactive as possible to alert me of any issues, rather than being reactive?”

Our take: If there is an interruption on your feeds, you want to get a notification as soon as possible. The moment you get that alert, you can start fixing the problem. 

A system that doesn’t give you alerts means you might not find out when you get a black frame video, pixelation, or loss of closed captions or Nielsen Audio Watermarks. 

Question they’d ask: “Should we move forward with your product, how do you convince me that we will receive adequate technical support, being that we’re a 24x7 operation?”

Our take: During a crisis, you might require the product’s support team. 

A support team should quickly respond to your initial support request, and have the technical expertise and willingness to do whatever it takes to solve your problem. And if they’re available around-the-clock, it means that whenever something goes wrong, you won’t be left to figure it out on your own.


With SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance, you can monitor your feeds for regulatory compliance and advertising proof of performance. Our solution includes closed captioning verification, loudness monitoring, audio watermark detection, and more. SnapStream also offers tools for searching TVsharing TV clips to Twitter, Facebook, and more; and sharing clips of live events to social media in real-time. 

What’s New in SnapStream 9.3

August 21 2019 by Tina Nazerian

SnapStream 9.3 brings you clipping across recordings, new task notifications, 3x playback in the web player, and more than 75 bug fixes and improvements. You can see these new features in action by watching our on-demand webinar. Here’s what we’ve added and improved: 

9.3-blog-header-1 

A few of the highlights:

  • Clipping Across Recordings 
  • New Task Notifications 
  • 3x Playback

Clipping Across Recordings

clipping-across-recordings-screenshot new(1)-1 

SnapStream 9.3 lets you clip across recordings without missing a frame. Did your show start early or late? No need to worry. As long as you’re recording a feed continuously, you’ll get a merged timeline in the player. 

To get started, load the recordings you want in the player and clip across them. The result? A seamless clip from point to point.

 

New Task Notifications 

new-tasks-screenshot (1)

The revamped notification system in SnapStream 9.3 lets you minimize, dismiss, or even retrieve tasks later. You can control how much of your screen notifications cover. 

To minimize a notification, click the “-” bar on the top-right pane.

 

3x Playback

3x-playback-screenshot

Save even more time watching clips with 3x playback in SnapStream 9.3. 

Every single frame will play at 3x the speed. And the pitch corrected audio means you won’t hear chipmunk voices. 

To play a clip at 3x the speed, go to the playback speed settings in the player and select “3x.”

 

More

SnapStream 9.3 has over 75 other bug fixes and improvements, like improved HLS recording. Please read the full release notes

 

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Make the Most of Posting Constraints in College Athletics: Tips from LSU Athletics’ Todd Politz

July 22 2019 by Tina Nazerian

It’s not enough to post a video clip directing fans to a livestream


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If you're part of the digital media team for the athletics department at a college or university, it’s likely that you’re working with restrictions—your conference probably has an agreement with a television rights holder (such as ESPN) that limits how many videos can go on social media feeds while a game is live. And if you work in pro sports, you know that some leagues have their own posting rules. 

Todd Politz regularly navigates those types of restrictions. As the director of digital media at Louisiana State University Athletics, he oversees best practices for all of the social media accounts for the school's 21 varsity teams. 

For each of those sports, there are one or two individuals who actually make the social media posts, as well as multiple others (such as photographers, videographers, and secondary communications assistants who are clipping from SnapStream) who contribute to content during a live event.

Throughout his 20 years at LSU Athletics, Politz has seen social media change how fans engage with their favorite college sports teams. He’s also mastered how to smartly work within the social media restrictions LSU Athletics faces as part of the Southeastern Conference’s agreement with ESPN so he can create genuine connections between fans and the LSU Tigers and Lady Tigers

Here are his top tips on how you can do the same for your college or university’s athletics department to drive your fandom.

 

Use Video Clips to Drive Fans to the Livestream

A Twitter post with a video clip of an LSU Baseball game and a link to the livestream.

Specifically, ESPN dictates that the Southeastern Conference schools in its agreement can only post 10 videos and GIFs per live game for each sport, with the exception of football and men’s basketball, for which schools can’t put any videos or GIFs directly to their social media accounts during the live event window. 

Politz notes that he and his team do their best to promote ESPN’s livestreams of their events. Typically, they’ll include a link to the livestream on WatchESPN (or the platform the game is being played on) when they post to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. 

And although some sports at LSU can’t be streamed live, Politz says “there are certain allowances ESPN makes to let us use clips from a game that is going on as part of our social media strategy.” 

Politz often uses SnapStream to clip parts of a live game and put those clips on different social platforms to drive fans “to either the livestream or the fact that an event is going on.”

 

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A look at the social media universe of LSU Athletics.

 

Be Selective About the Clips You Post

A video clip LSU Baseball posted on its Twitter account during a a game. 

Politz notes the importance of being selective about the clips you post. Just because you can post 10 videos per live game for some sports doesn’t mean you should. He brings up LSU baseball as an example. 

“It’s rare that we will have 10 really strong moments in a game,” he explains. “Of course, we’re trying to not dilute our feed with every strikeout.” 

He and his team look for moments that they think fans will appreciate, such as home runs, touchdowns, and other game-changing plays that put an LSU Athletics team in the lead. 

 

Be the First to Get your Game Clip out There

LSU was the first to post this video clip (ahead of other organizations). 

Politz says that he and his team can put out a clip of a memorable moment within 45, 60 seconds of it happening and engage fans. 

“By the time they're finished cheering and enjoying it with their friends, we can have it where they can relive it on social media.” 

However, he stresses that getting the clip out quickly isn’t enough. You have to be the first to post the clip. Timeliness matters. 

“If you get your video out there first, you’re probably going to have the best opportunity for it to go viral,” he says.

 

Use GIFs to Turn Small Moments into Big Ones

An example of a GIF on LSU Football's Twitter account.

Capturing and posting the “little things” that happen during a game can be extremely impactful. 

“You can have a small moment that we create a GIF out of that is very ordinary,” Politz says. “However, it ends up having a big impact.” 

He brings up a hypothetical example. If LSU’s baseball players stack hats on top of one of their teammates in the dugout, it would be great to create a GIF out of that moment. 

“They stack 30 hats on top of each other, and you make a very quick GIF out of that to talk about baseball traditions or superstitions or things like that and use it not necessarily right after it happens, but later on, to talk about [it] being…. time to rally,” Politz says. “You can use something like that to re-engage what was a great moment from a previous rally into today's game.”

And sometimes, certain moments that happen in a game can go on to define a narrative amongst fans, like the “rally possum” baseball game LSU played against the University of Arkansas in 2016. LSU was losing when suddenly, a baby possum ran onto the field. After LSU facilities staff captured the possum, LSU ended up winning the game. In fact, they won 12 out of their next 14 games.

“It’s still referenced when our team is behind,” Politz notes. 

He says he and his team use SnapStream to create GIFs as much as they use it to create video clips. One benefit of GIFs? 

“You can hold onto those moments that will be instantly recognizable to your fanbase, but you can use them two, three years later, and they still resonate.” 


At SnapStream, we make video social, whether it's from TV or an in-stadium feed. We're what LSU Athletics and other college athletics and pro sports teams use to grow their fandoms by instantly capturing, creating, and sharing high-quality video clips, GIFs, and images to a variety of social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

3 Ways the Arizona Coyotes Celebrate and Grow Their Fandom

July 11 2019 by Tina Nazerian

Marissa O’Connor, director of social media strategy at the Arizona Coyotes, has tips on how you can do the same for your team 


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If you are part of the marketing or communications department of a sports team, chances are you’re busy growing your team’s fandom (fans’ enthusiasm about your team)—and you know that social media plays a growing and critical role in doing so.

However, social media “never sleeps,” says Marissa O’Connor, director of social media strategy at the Arizona Coyotes, and some brands fall into the trap of “trying to do too much.”

O’Connor has several tips on how sports teams can use social media in a smart, strategic way to build their fandoms. 

 

Know Your Audience 

An Instagram post showcasing some Arizona Coyotes players doing community service.

Some brands try to create social media posts or comments around a national event, trending topic, or popular meme. But O’Connor says that brands can’t “take advantage of every topical conversation.” Not everything will resonate with a team’s particular brand or fanbase. 

She says that to narrow down what content to focus on, the sports team’s social media strategists should start by examining whether they have a “brand bible” or a mission statement they can circle back to. 

Next, they should consider who they’re talking to. Ultimately, a team’s social media posts should please fans, whether they are fans of the team or one of the players in particular, or the sport in general. 

“You’re not trying to please the entire internet,” she says. 

A huge part of the Coyotes’ brand is giving back to the community, she explains. When she and her coworkers are making their content calendar, they keep that in mind. If their players will be doing a community service project, or if the team will be donating money to a cause, they add it to their content plan for the week. 

“Remind yourself and your team of your mission and what you're really trying to do,” she says.

 

Tailor Your Message Based on the Social Media Channel 

A video the Arizona Coyotes social media team made with SnapStream and then posted on Twitter.

Different social media accounts have different audiences. O’Connor stresses that it’s important to put each audience first and tailor your content appropriately. In the case of the Coyotes, their Facebook audience is the oldest, while their Instagram audience is very young. 

So on Instagram, she says she and her team “might have a little bit more fun” and “use more emojis and be more engaging.” 

As for Twitter, she says the followers there are “hardcore hockey fans” who “truly can’t get enough of the Coyotes.” She doesn’t think there’s such a thing as “giving them too much information or talking to them too much.” 

She also notes that it can be beneficial to use analytics to see which players people want to see posts about. “We cater to what [fans] want, not necessarily what our marketing team wants, or what our ticket sales team wants.” 

 

Don’t Forget about Customer Service

An example of the Arizona Coyotes' social media team answering a fan's question on Twitter. 

O’Connor believes that customer service is an underrated part of social media for companies. 

“We live in a world where people want instant gratification,” she says. “If someone is driving to the game and wants to know what time doors open, or where they can find a gluten-free beer, or how much parking costs, [they] want to know that information quickly.” 

Offering good customer service through social media platforms can help a brand grow its fandom, because fans will see that the organization really cares about them. 

An Arizona Coyotes game experience, she says, is much more than just what happens from “whistle to whistle.” 

“The second you get to our parking lot, that's part of your game day experience and if there's anything that we can [do] to make that better, we want to do so,” she explains. “People have never had more options for how they spend their entertainment dollars, and we don't want to take for granted the ones that choose to spend theirs with us.”


At SnapStream, we make video social, whether it's from TV or an in-stadium feed. We're what the Arizona Coyotes and other sports teams use to grow their fandoms by instantly capturing, creating, and sharing high-quality video clips, GIFs, and images to a variety of social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Impactful Live-Tweeting Strategies We Saw From the First Round of the Democratic Debates

June 27 2019 by Tina Nazerian

2020 Democratic Candidates Debate - Night No. 1 - 09_02_34 PM                                                                                                                                                          Photo Credit: SnapStream 

The race for the 2020 presidential election is well underway. Ten candidates took the stage in Miami on Wednesday night for the first round of the Democratic debates. While the candidates wrangled their thoughts and policy positions, news outlets were hard at work capturing every interesting comment and meme-able reaction. Here are some impactful live-tweeting strategies the SnapStream team saw some of our media customers use Wednesday night. 

 

Let One Reporter Take Over Your Twitter Account

BuzzFeed News streamlined its live-tweeting of the first round of Democratic Debates by letting reporter Ryan Brooks, who covers the Democrats, take over its Twitter account. Brooks quickly delivered some great content to the 1.3 million Twitter accounts that follow BuzzFeed News. 

 

 

Capture and Caption Funny Moments

When Beto O’Rourke started speaking Spanish to answer his first question, many people noticed Cory Booker’s reaction. The Daily Show instantly grabbed the perfect image of the moment, added a hilarious caption, and put it on Twitter. The post has been liked more than 60,000 times, and retweeted more than 11,000 times. 

 

 


Enhance Your Video Clips with Analysis

Politico also tweeted about O’Rourke speaking Spanish for part of his first response. But rather than focusing on Booker’s reaction, the organization took a different approach. It tweeted out a video clip of the moment, and added quotes from two of its staff members above the video. Politico’s Twitter followers not only got to immediately watch the scene on their devices, but they also got to read two very different takes on it. The video has gotten over 35,000 views. 

 

Tonight, 10 other Democratic candidates will have their turn. Which live-tweeting strategies will your team use? 


SnapStream makes TV social. Our technology lets users instantly capture, create, and share quality video clips, GIFs, and images to a variety of social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. 

Loudness Compliance and the CALM Act: What You Need to Know

June 17 2019 by Tina Nazerian

calm act - loudness compliance - sound-waves-and-human-ear-1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Pixsooz/Shutterstock

While watching TV, have you ever heard the volume increase when your show jumped to a commercial break?

The volume increase could have been the result of systems that hadn’t normalized the content based on the loudness.

Citing industry officials, the Los Angeles Times reported that due to the switch to digital TV in the United States in 2009, “the higher fidelity sound made the commercials seem even louder.” In 2006, the ITU-R had created a loudness algorithm (referred to as BS.1770-#, which nowadays has five variants) to help make sure commercials were not blaringly louder than the programs they were accompanying.

That algorithm makes “Loudness Units relative to Full Scale” (LUFS), also known as “Loudness, K-weighted, relative to Full Scale” (LKFS). LKFS is technically an amplitude level, but it’s not just the measure of an electrical signal. It’s an attempt to measure how humans perceive the loudness of broadcast audio.

graph

This graph represents the filter applied to the raw audio input so it can be adjusted to compensate for how humans perceive the loudness of different frequencies. K-weighting is part of the equation used to determine the LKFS value. It has two parts— the first is weighting different frequencies based on how loud they’re perceived. The second is modeled after the “acoustic effect” of the human head.

Here’s an analogy to help you understand LKFS: audio level is to LKFS what temperature is to wind chill temperature (or heat index). Humans don’t perceive low frequencies as sounding as loud as they actually are, but they perceive high pitched sounds to be louder than they actually are. That’s why high pitched sounds have a higher K-weighting.  

The loudness algorithm the ITU-R created was not implemented in the United States until a few years later. In 2010, Congress passed the CALM Act. The law came into effect on December 13, 2012. It stipulates that in relation to the TV programs they are accompanying, all commercials must have their average loudness adjusted to be within a fairly narrow range of a fixed target. The law only applies to television programming—it does not apply to radio or internet programming. 

Key Facts about the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act

  • Congress passed the CALM Act in 2010 to regulate the audio levels of TV commercials in relation to the TV programs they're accompanying. 
  • California Congresswoman Anna Eshoo authored the CALM Act. Part of her inspiration? The LA Times reports that she was "blasted by blaring ads on TV during a family holiday gathering." 
  • For loudness compliance, the CALM Act references a document called ATSC A/85 RP. 

For compliance, the law points broadcasters, cable operators, satellite TV providers, and other multichannel video programming distributors to the ATSC A/85 RP.

A/85 RP stipulates the use of ITU-R BS.1770-1 in the United States. It also recommends the adoption of a fixed target loudness of -24 LKFS. Annex I.7 of the ATSC A/85 RP states that there should be a fixed target loudness of -24 LKFS, + or - 2 dB.

A/85 RP also notes requirements other than loudness, one example being dialnorm. Dialnorm means “dialogue normalization.” Dialnorm specifies the average dialogue level for audio in absolute terms. Say you’re going from your main program to a commercial. The main program features soft-spoken people, whereas the commercial features loud people. On playback, the consumer receiver would automatically modulate the low dialogue up, and the loud dialogue down.

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A visual representation of how dialnorm works with a consumer cable box.

Luckily, as Dave Moulton wrote in TV Technology, if you’re using dialnorm, “you don’t need to worry very much about LKFS, because properly implemented dialnorm will pretty much take care of it for you.”

It’s important to stay on the right side of the CALM Act. If viewers complain to the FCC about your organization’s loudness level, and the FCC notices a pattern of complaints, it will start an inquiry or investigation for your organization. If there is an investigation, you’ll have to spend time proving that your equipment, and how you’ve maintained it, is in line with the law. If you don’t show actual or ongoing compliance in response to the inquiry or investigation, you may have to pay a fine.

Having a record of exactly what your programming sounded like when it aired will save you hassle and frustration. You will quickly be able to gather evidence and respond to viewer complaints.


Loudness compliance is easy with SnapStream Monitoring & Compliance. We provide TV stations, networks, and other broadcasters solutions for logging and monitoring loudness. 

SnapStream is:
  • how The Daily Show finds TV clips for their show
  • how organizations clip TV to Twitter and Facebook
  • how broadcasters can monitor their feeds for regulatory compliance
  • and more
 

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