Optical/IP Networks

Unicorn Opens Up Real-Time Analytics

Data and analytics have become increasingly important parts of any service provider, content owner, or advertiser's strategy, but with content coming from more outlets than ever before, the picture might still be hazy.

That's where Unicorn Media Inc. comes into play. This month the company opened up its analytics platform to anyone that wants to tap its Web API for real-time feedback on consumer viewing habits. Publishers, and potentially pay TV providers, can integrate Unicorn's UMedia Analytics real-time data warehouse into a video workflow to track viewers' content consumption.

"The big deal is the ability we give people to, not just track virtually everything about the customer, content, geography, and behavior, but the ability to make that very visual in the way we deliver the information," says Unicorn chief strategy officer David Rice.

Analytics is a market that has become crowded with vendors keen on sharing what they know. (See Oracle Unveils Data Model, Analyst: Data Analytics Needs Some TLC, and Openet Manages Subscriber Data.) To win business from the inside, Unicorn is counting on its newfound willingness to integrate into other platforms.

In the past, Unicorn Media has offered an end-to-end TV platform, including a player and a content management system, but Rice says that not all companies, especially the larger ones, need the full suite.

Now, if it's IP-based, browser-based, or running on a mobile operating system, Unicorn can track it. The company's patent-pending technology draws on a beaconing system that pings collection centers around the globe when a content owner requests information.

Rice says it's a way for content owners to see how much play their content is getting and then make an adjustment on the fly if needed. This is data that's typically not available for hours or even days, he asserts.

For example, if Unicorn observes that there's a ton of streaming going on in Europe, but no revenue generated from the ads being served with the streaming content, the content provider or operator could decide whether to get its sales team involved to try to improve the ads or to just cut off all streaming to Europe.

Unicorn has seen the most traction with the studios, Rice says, but IPTV providers and potentially even cable companies could benefit from the analysis as well. The ability to dynamically insert ads into video-on-demand programming is something the cable MSOs are exploring today, but they are also grappling with their response to online video and over-the-top competitors. (See Canoe Experiments With VoD Ads, Comcast Gets Dynamic With VoD Ads and Charter Tests Dynamic VOD Ads.)

Rice says that for any OTT content, including the cable MSOs' TV Everywhere push, Unicorn's analytics could be pivotal in helping them validate their audience and data delivery.

"The system that we've created with analytics especially allows providers to say, 'I've got a connected TV customer, browser-based customer, mobile phone customer, game customer, and a set-top box specific to Internet TV -- different environments I have to reach,' Our analytics gives them one view into all that traffic to compare and contrast how one does against another."

Since Unicorn announced it would open up its platform last week, it has continued to add compatibility with other hardware vendors and content providers, including Roku Inc. and TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO)'s connected STBs.

Based on the initial analytics Unicorn has gathered since opening up its platform, Rice contends content providers are focusing on mobile phone viewing, with Android growing in significance, as well as on Internet-connected STBs.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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