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Verizon Media Introduces New Publishing, Advertising Features

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Verizon Media today announced a handful of upgrades to its platform, all aimed at helping content owners expand their reach and maximize their revenues.

On the programming side, the company has introduced Channel Scheduling, which allows content owners to combine VOD, live feed, and live event assets into a single workflow to create a live linear experience. "It's really about virtual linear channel creation," says Darren Lepke, head of video product management for Verizon Media. "It's a graphical user interface where you can drag and drop assets into a timeline, add some ad breaks, and adjust the schedule. So you don't have to manually create [a schedule] using a broadcast playout system."

Also new is the platform's Output Syndication feature (pictured above), which lets content owners publish streams to the major social platforms—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch. "Customers are asking us to help reach all of these platforms—television, OTT, and social media—in one workflow. We don't want to do it three times," Lepke says. "You enter your social media credentials once, check a box, and now you're publishing your live stream or live channel out to all of these social media destinations." 

The new feature is in response to the changing role OTT is taking on within larger media companies. "OTT used to be this kind of fun side project, but we're past the early phase. OTT is the business," Lepke says. "It's combined with their television business, and social media is an important part of their promotion and marketing strategy, and sometimes their licensing strategy. The collapsing of silos between a broadcast group, a media group and a social media group is now making its way into video production workflows and video streaming workflows." Future enhancements will include increased personalization. 

For live events, Verizon Media has enhanced its ingest, encoding, and CDN capabilities to deliver live content in 4K HDR, which it did for this year's Super Bowl with Fox, reaching the 10 million concurrent user mark. Most notably, the company now has a WebRTC-based real-time streaming feature, currently in beta, that enables live streaming with sub-second latency. It was first tested publicly at Super Bowl LIV, with an in-stadium trivia experience delivered over 5G.

Finally, on the advertising side, the company is announcing Smartplay Prebid, a server-side feature that it says will bring more transparency and level the playing field in the programmatic ad marketplace. "Until now there has been a generally accepted order of operations in filling ad supply that has not always maximized the value of a publisher's inventory," said general manager Ariff Sidi in a press release. "Prebid addresses that by calling out to demand partners in an open and transparent fashion, maximizing value and providing transparency in the bidding process." 

Lepke says Verizon created Prebid in response to the "perception in the industry" that platforms like Google and FreeWheel put a thumb on the scale in favor of inventory that is on their own exchange, but might be at a lower CPM. "I'm not accusing Google of making this happen, and I haven't seen it myself," Lepke says. "But there's a perception that it's happening. So prior to calling out to Google or FreeWheel or SpotX, you make a call to the Prebid server, and a private server goes out on the open marketplace and finds the best available ad."

The company has also made improvements to its Ad Data to identify errors, timeouts, and tracking issues, and to Ad Analytics to allow publishers to identify trends in ad performance and segment data by areas including environment, device, and demand partner.

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