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Connected Homes September 2014 Viewpoints

Technology Analyst: Kyle M. Whitman

Adaptive Political Advertising

Why is this topic significant?

In advance of an upcoming national election, major political parties in the United States are leveraging adaptive-advertising platforms on satellite pay-TV services to deliver targeted political advertisements to individual households. Political parties are leveraging big-data technologies to determine which ads to display to specific households and, in some cases, to determine the timing of ad display.

Description

In advance of a US congressional election in November 2014, both major US political parties have announced that they will be using an adaptive-advertising platform that can deliver targeted political advertisements to Dish Network and DirecTV satellite-television subscribers. Dish and DirecTV codeveloped the platform, which allows for dynamic insertion of television commercials on a per-household level. The system uploads an inventory of commercials to subscriber households' DVR units. Certain television programs that the satellite networks transmit contain markers that trigger playback of a commercial stored on the DVR. The system allows ad buyers to specify which commercials will play back to specific households, as well as to determine the circumstances of playback (for example, playing back different commercials during different shows or at different times of day). The dynamic-ad-playback system also functions regardless of whether the household views a program during broadcast or views a DVR recording of that program; in the latter case, the ad buyer may elect to display a different advertisement than the one that would have appeared during broadcast.

Both major US political parties have vast databases that contain extensive information about potential voters, and both parties have partnered with big-data firms and other specialists to create data-driven ad-targeting strategies for maximizing the benefit of their engagement with the Dish/DirecTV adaptive-advertising platform.

Implications

US political parties have historically been extremely savvy television advertisers, adept at crafting messages to resonate with specific classes of potential voters. Accordingly, reason exists to believe that the political parties may be able to create a broad enough inventory of effective advertisements to deliver to specific households that an adaptive-advertising campaign might pay off. Moreover, the data-driven targeting approaches that will underlie ad selection have demonstrated at least some success in the past; Barack Obama's successful 2012 US presidential campaign, for example, used big data for targeting scripted political messages via live telephone operators on a per-household basis. Nevertheless, households may well end up finding targeted political TV ads to be annoying or intrusive.

Impacts/Disruptions

Reportedly, both major US political parties view their engagement with the Dish/DirecTV adaptive-advertising platform as an experiment, with the ideal outcome being a significant improvement in the efficiency of TV-ad spending (which is typically the largest expense in US political campaigns). Dish and DirecTV claim that their platform reaches more than 20 million households, which would make it the largest deployed pay-TV adaptive-advertising platform to date. Assuming that the political parties engage with the platform on a large scale and that the engagement is successful, then television advertisers may begin taking much more of an interest in adaptive advertising.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: Medium

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: 5 Years

Opportunitites in the following industry areas:

Advertising, television programming, content production, data analytics, broadband connectivity

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas:

Sony Share Play

Why is this topic significant?

Sony has announced Share Play, a new feature for its PlayStation 4 game consoles that will allow individuals who have purchased a copy of a video game to invite broadband-connected friends to play that game together remotely, even if those friends have not purchased or installed a copy of that game on their own consoles. Share Play appears to use cloud-based rendering technology from Gaikai to stream a version of the purchaser's game to his or her friends and to synchronize that streamed version with the local copy that is running on the purchaser's system.

Description

As part of its upcoming system update for the PlayStation 4 game console, Sony has announced a new feature—Share Play—that will allow individuals who own a copy of a video game to "share" that game remotely with other PlayStation 4 owners over the internet. Only the person who is sharing the game needs to own and install a copy of the game (from either a physical disc or a digital download); other players who join in do not need to own the game or have a local copy installed on their systems. Instead, those players connect to a remote server that uses cloud-based rendering technology from Gaikai to stream a copy of the game to their consoles. (For a discussion of cloud-based game rendering, Gaikai, and Gaikai's integration with the PlayStation 4, see the April 2009, December 2012/January 2013, and March 2013 Viewpoints.) The Gaikai service synchronizes the game play of the streamed instances of the game with that of the instance that runs locally on the purchaser's PlayStation 4 console.

Players can use the Share Play feature to emulate a local cooperative gaming experience (which gamers refer to colloquially as "couch co-op") with distant friends. Such multiplayer experiences fell out of fashion in the past decade in favor of dedicated remote multiplayer, but they have enjoyed resurgent popularity recently.

Implications

Notably, Sony has not highlighted the link between Share Play and Gaikai's technology in the initial press releases about Share Play; instead, the company has been silent about the technology in use to enable the experience. Representatives from Sony and Gaikai had discussed a feature identical to Share Play in 2013, however. Sony's decision not to highlight this fact could signify a strategic decision to integrate Gaikai's brand into that of PlayStation more fully than before.

Impacts/Disruptions

Share Play has some important usability limitations. Except for a minority of users with unusually good broadband connections and physical proximity to a cloud-rendering cluster, cloud-based rendering still does not deliver performance equivalent to local rendering. The extreme latency sensitivity inherent in virtual-reality (VR) gaming precludes the use of cloud rendering entirely, making Share Play unsuitable for future VR-based games. And Sony limits Share Play sessions to 60 minutes at a time (although players can create a new session when the current one expires). Together, the usability limitations on Share Play may limit widespread adoption.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: Low

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: 5 Years

Opportunitites in the following industry areas:

Broadband connectivity, local-area networks, cloud computing, graphics rendering, online gaming

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas: