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Q&A: Mikael Dahlgren, Agama Technologies

Mikael Dahlgren, CEO of Agama Technologies, talks about recent key developments in streaming, the importance of targeted advertising and how to assure it and what service providers need to put in place to ensure optimal service quality and meet or exceed customer expectations.

What are the key developments that you see taking place in the OTT streaming arena?
OTT services are growing and, in many cases, now complementing existing pay TV services. As the number of subscribers to these OTT platforms grows, customer expectations for service quality and user experience rise too.

The OTT business is quickly evolving to take advantage of the new possibilities that the technology enables. Sports content on OTT platforms, for example, is driving consumption of premium content on the big screen. Technologies such as adaptive bitrate streaming are being used in all forms of video delivery to enable service flexibility and coverage. TV Everywhere extensions and virtual cable rollouts are two examples of this.

In this fast-moving environment, we believe agility will be a key differentiator. To evolve and enhance the customer experience, while remaining cost-effective, solutions must provide transparency and the right insights to support the service provider in both day-to-day and strategic decision making.

In the OTT world, the customer experience is getting more unique – each unicast session is sent from the network edge and consumed on any of a multitude of different apps and devices. This makes it critical to use every single subscriber interaction to understand how the service is used and how it performs.

This, of course, will generate huge volumes of raw data – on the scale of petabytes. To create relevant and actionable insights, the right metrics and the right analytics must be used for each use case. Managing video latency, targeted advertising and optimising encoding, for instance, all need different analytics approaches.

Targeted advertising is becoming more and more important. What can Agama do to assure that the ad insertion works correctly?
Agama has been active in the ad insertion domain for years. We see that targeted advertising is increasingly seen as an important additional revenue stream, not only for broadcasters, but also for telcos and cable operators in cooperation with content owners.

For ads to be correctly played to subscribers, ad insertion requires time critical signaling. Errors on the frame level can cause both visual artefacts and lost ad impressions, causing loss of revenue and leading to poor customer experience. The Agama ad insertion assurance offering has the monitoring, validation and visibility needed to assure ad insert services for both multicast and OTT, and to ensure an excellent customer experience.

What do service providers need to put in place in order to assure optimal service quality and meet or exceed customer expectations?
Customer centricity has been a hot topic for years, and for good reason: understanding customer experience and customer behaviour forms the basis for building and evolving offerings that excel and exceed customer expectations.

Creating successful video services requires compelling content, an optimised user experience, efficient customer service and, of course, a competitive price. To succeed in all of these dimensions, solutions and processes need to work across silos and teams.

With the solutions and processes in place to provide real-time insights across the complete service-delivery chain, from head-end to subscriber, service providers have the foundations to provide excellent services in a cost-effective way.

At Agama, we believe that to assure service quality and to really understand how the customer is experiencing and using the service, the best approach is a unified end-to-end assurance solution that covers the entire service delivery in real-time with in-depth KPIs and metrics, from encoding and packaging, through CDNs and the ISP, to STBs, apps and devices. This provides superior results compared to fragmented and siloed analytics systems based on limited metrics.

Visit the Agama team at IBC, stand 5.B72, to see a demo of their monitoring, analytics and visualization solution and to discuss joint projects.

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