AWS for M&E Blog

Drive personalized ad experiences with Harmonic VOS360 SaaS on AWS

This blog is co-authored by Tong Yu Senior Director, Harmonic.

Gone are the days of a one-size-fits-all viewer experience. Viewers expect personalized experiences that fit their unique tastes and preferences. As the stakes to maintain audiences continue to rise, industries are embracing innovative technologies such as Harmonic VOS360 Ad SaaS, which was recently showcased on the AWS stand during the 2023 International Broadcasting Convention (IBC).

One way to achieve hyper-personalized viewing experiences is through targeted ads. Harmonic’s VOS360 Ad SaaS platform is a game-changing toolset designed to provide advanced content monetization through personalized ad experiences. The VOS360 Ad SaaS allows best-in-class targeted ad delivery to millions of concurrent viewers for live sports streaming and a host of streaming applications, including linear, video-on-demand (VOD), free ad-supported TV (FAST), internet protocol TV (IPTV), and low-latency live streaming.

Understanding the power of personalization

The ability to keep subscribers is a fundamental metric of success. Personalization emerges as a powerful tool to achieve this goal, offering viewers content that aligns with their interests and preferences.

When you focus on personalization, you notice:

  1. An increase in viewer engagement and satisfaction. By providing personalized and targeted ad experiences, VOS360 Ad SaaS increases viewer engagement and satisfaction, resulting in higher retention rates and reduced churn. That means viewers receive relevant ads that they actually want to see.
  2. More advertisers, and increased value of ad space. With dynamic ad insertion, publishers optimize their ad inventory and serve relevant ads to individual viewers. This ad delivery and monetization efficiency enhances the revenue potential for content creators and streaming platforms.

Personalization is handled in a variety of ways. Using advanced technologies like VOS360 Ad SaaS, a server-side ad insertion (SSAI) solution, provides dynamic insertion of advertisements into video content streamed using common protocols like HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) and DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP). This created video content that is seamless with virtually identical video quality and audio volume.

The engine of personalization: A quick view of SSAI with VOS360 Ad SaaS

SSAI works by manipulating the manifest file (which contains metadata about video segments) on the fly before content is delivered to the viewer. Specifically, VOS360 Ad leverages manifest manipulation as a method to stitch or insert ads into a manifest file. The manifest file provides the video player with instructions on which video segments to request and in which order to play them back. By manipulating the manifest and inserting new entries corresponding to ad segments, VOS360 Ad stitches ads seamlessly into the main video content.

As the manifest file is being generated or requested, the VOS360 Ad SSAI platform inserts ads in the appropriate places within the manifest playlist. When the player parses the manifest, it requests both the main video segments and the ad segments inserted into the stream. This provides a seamless, TV-like ad experience, with video ads appearing mid-stream as desired. The ad insertion happens dynamically, without needing to preprocess the video files. Thus, VOS360 Ad provides personalized ad targeting at the individual level, scaling to millions of users at this targeting granularity.

Server-side ad insertion with VOS360 Ad SaaS provides:  

Seamless integration and scalability: By modifying the manifest for each viewer, VOS360 Ad ensures that it has dynamically stitched the right personalized ads into the content stream, based on the viewer’s profile and preferences. This process is highly scalable and accommodates a multitude of viewers simultaneously, making it ideal for large-scale advertising campaigns and popular content that attracts a massive audience.

Unified ad experience across platforms: Advertisers use VOS360 Ad to ensure a consistent and unified ad experience for viewers across various platforms and devices. The technology works seamlessly across different streaming platforms, ensuring viewers receive personalized and relevant ads regardless of whether they’re watching on a smart TV, mobile device, or laptop. This unified experience helps strengthen the brand messaging and creates a cohesive advertising campaign.

Improved ad viewability and engagement: By eliminating ad blockers’ ability to detect or prevent ad playback, SSAI and Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) ensure that ads are viewable and reach their intended audience effectively. This improved ad viewability and personalized experiences enhances viewer engagement. Engaged viewers have an increased probability of interacting with the ads, resulting in improved click-through rates, conversions, and overall campaign success.

Efficient ad monetization: For publishers, SSAI and DAI technologies streamline the process of ad monetization. DAI empowers publishers to optimize their ad inventory and serve relevant ads to individual viewers, increasing the value of their ad space and attracting more advertisers. This ad delivery and monetization efficiency enhances the revenue potential for content creators and streaming platforms.

Monetization without service interruption: VOS360 Ad incorporates innovative commercial break formats like dynamic brand insertion and squeeze-back/double-boxing that enhance viewer engagement. These alternate formats create new ad inventory and increase monetization for relevant content without service interruption.

Now that we understand the technology and how personalization affects viewer engagement and retention, let’s shift our focus to the transformative combination of AWS and Harmonic’s VOS360 SaaS.

AWS with Harmonic VOS360 SaaS for personalized experiences

Harmonic VOS360 SaaS built on AWS elevates scalability and reliability, and provides a robust infrastructure to support current and future demands.

VOS360 leverages the global infrastructure of Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide geo-redundancy and ensure highly reliable service uptime. VOS360 achieves geographic redundancy by implementing its services across multiple AWS regions worldwide. For instance, ad insertion servers, origin storage, databases, and other components are provisioned across AWS regions, such as the US East (Northern Virginia), US West (Oregon), and more. This creates redundancy. If one region experiences a failure, traffic is routed to another active region.

VOS360 also uses AWS tools like Amazon Route 53 and Amazon CloudFront to implement geo-balancing, distributing user traffic across servers in the nearest AWS Region. This provides lower latency content delivery tailored to each user’s location.

This geo-balanced architecture leverages the massive global footprint of AWS to deliver reliable, low-latency ad insertion and video streaming. By harnessing AWS regions, VOS360 ensures uninterrupted service uptime while tailoring the content delivery location to each user’s geography.

VOS360 Ad supports geo-redundancy.

VOS360 Ad supports geo-redundancy.

Here are more AWS offerings that integrate with VOS360 SaaS:

  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) provides the scalable compute capacity required to handle video processing and ad stitching workloads. Auto scaling allows the management of computing resources based on usage patterns. Multiple EC2 instance types are leveraged to optimize cost and performance.
  • Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) provides a fully managed Kubernetes service that simplifies running containerized applications at scale. VOS360 leverages EKS to deploy microservices and API endpoints for ad decisions and other functions.
  • Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is a scalable object storage service to store and retrieve media assets and files needed for ad insertion workflows. This includes video content files and ad creatives.
  • Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) automatically distributes incoming viewer traffic across multiple EC2 instances. This prevents overloading any single instance. Elastic Load Balancing allows VOS360 to gracefully handle traffic spikes and provides automated failover across availability zones for high availability.
  • AWS CloudTrail captures API calls made by VOS360 and logs them for auditing and debugging. This provides visibility into activity for security and operational purposes.
  • Amazon CloudWatch collects real-time metrics and logs from VOS360 instances and services. Amazon CloudWatch aggregates real-time metrics and logs from VOS360 instances and services, allowing for comprehensive monitoring of critical performance indicators, resource utilization patterns, application logs, and more.
  • For customers running on premises ad decision servers or distribution, AWS Direct Connect provides dedicated network connectivity between VOS360. This achieves consistent high throughput and low latency.

By leveraging these AWS services, VOS360 SaaS offers customers enterprise-grade scalability, reliability, and innovation pace. Harmonic uses the Well-Architected framework as guidelines for security and operational excellence.

A tailored approach for personalized experiences

As we discovered, personalization is more than just a buzzword, it’s the cornerstone of success to retain subscribers. With a combined solution like Harmonic’s VOS360 SaaS and AWS, the benefits go beyond individual viewers to publishers and content creators. VOS Ad ensures a seamless viewing experience, solving the challenges posed by ad-blocking software and delivering content that captivates audiences. Plus, AWS infrastructure powers the VOS360 platforms’ scalability and resilience. The result? Increased ad viewability, viewer engagement, and improved monetization efficiency.

To learn even more about personalization and advanced ad monetization, check out Harmonic’s VOS360 Ad SaaS solution.

Kevin Yao

Kevin Yao

Kevin Yao is a veteran technology inventor and leader with over 20 years experience who is shaping the future of media at AWS by leading teams focused on direct-to-consumer media and partnering with major companies to innovate. He has passion for inventing cutting-edge solutions, earning 40+ patents and delivering seamless digital media experiences worldwide.