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Dalet: the art of data

Dalet is using data to create better experiences for viewers – and helping viewers create better experiences for themselves

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We all know media companies are gathering lots of data about their audiences. This can induce some anxiety in viewers, especially when they realise content providers sometimes know more about their behaviour than they know themselves. But the final goal of audience data collection is – or if it isn’t, you should really rethink your business priorities – to provide better, more useful services and, as a result, to increase revenue. 

But using content and audience data is as much an art as a science. “Too much data is of little use if you don’t know what to do with it,” says Dalet’s Bea Alonso, director of product marketing. “What is important is how to structure that data so a user can find content easily.”

Contextual metadata is one key element that can help make a huge data library practically useful. Dalet’s Galaxy news framework, for example, offers suggestions for additional content, archived articles, and video and image material in real time, based on what a journalist is writing. 

For example, ‘scientists say the Florida hurricane was fuelled by rising ocean temperatures’ might bring up articles on climate science, images of hurricane devastation in the American south-east, and video of oceanographers presenting data to government. This could be used to inform the piece being written, or provide supplementary content to run alongside it or on other parts of the channel. 

Once the story is published, the Dalet Social Media Framework can also receive audience data – like social media or commentary – on each story published, which can be used by editorial content teams to decide how to develop more content. Media Cortex is Dalet’s AI framework. It can index content using a wide variety of AI-driven parameters, including facial recognition and sentiment, object recognition and speech to text. But this massive pool of information can be used in many applications for reaching viewers in new ways.

Inform, Expression and Mancave

Zone.tv is a digital-first content service that uses audience data and artificial intelligence to create highly customised linear TV channels. The Toronto-based Zone.tv Studio suite enables video service providers to use their content libraries to create individual, theme-driven linear channels.

Zone·ify is Zone.tv’s SVoD content offering, which currently consists of 6000 hours of content and 50,000 titles. These can be viewed on 12 themed channels – Styler, Playground, Hangout, Motors and Mancave, to name a few, and on custom channels, which can be tailored to each subscriber’s preferences.

Dalet’s Ooyala Flex Media Platform is used for ingesting, transcoding and distributing Zone.tv content with OoyalaMOVE, and the company is driving customisation with the use of enhanced metadata with OoyalaMAM.

Partnering with Ooyala and Microsoft, Zone.tv put together a solution to manage the wealth of content coming in from multiple providers, in a variety of forms, with and without metadata.

Ooyala Flex Media Platform coordinates workflows with Microsoft’s Video Indexer, one of Microsoft’s tools from its Cognitive Services Suite. Video Indexer brings back data from video on a frame-by-frame basis.

“Our subscribers don’t want to be passive
video consumers. They want to have a role in shaping the content”

Every one of Zone.tv’s assets is ingested using OoyalaMOVE, regardless of where the asset is distributed, the device it will be played on, or whether it is bound for one of Zone.tv’s dynamic channels or SVoD service.

Ooyala Flex Media Platform has been able to scale, to create flexible workflows, and to adapt them to an array of content suppliers and to other partners in the Zone.tv ecosystem. OoyalaMAM models and enhances
each video’s metadata as it arrives from content providers and then adds additional metadata from Microsoft’s Video Indexer.

The metadata is then fed to Zone.tv for further enhancement and validation, before being delivered out to the end user. Zone.tv now claims to be the largest provider of thematic subscription VoD services in North America, with more than 28 SVoD channels.

Viewers take control

Audiences don’t need to be passively served by data anymore. They increasingly have direct access to the data and become active users of their own data as well.

Australia’s EnhanceTV is a non-profit subscription-based service that’s available to universities and institutions. It allows users to search an archive of any Australian TV material for use in lectures or research. The platform was built using Dalet’s Ooyala Flex Media Platform and enables clipping, annotating and sharing of the content among other lecturers, students and researchers.

In this case, the subscribers are using the data to enhance and build on the existing content database. Dalet developed a secure B2C API, OoyalaPUBLISH, where a large amount of copyrighted content could be safely exposed to a large group of subscribers. 

“It was an interesting case for us,” says Alonso. “The customer said, ‘Our subscribers are a vibrant community of lecturers and students who don’t want to be passive video consumers. They want to have a role in shaping the content that we’re using in schools and universities’. And the way to do that is by curating video and recommendations for other subscribers. There are a specific set of subscribers here from a specific community, and they trust the curation from other people within that community more than the provider who is serving up the content.”

Ultimately, she concludes: “The ability to access all this data starts to shift the power towards the end user.”

This article is from the October 2019 issue of FEED magazine

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