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IBC 2010: The Monetization of Social Media

Social media, as we’ve talked about on SP360, is no longer just something fun or trendy but rather has hit the mainstream. Now, companies are able to look to the medium not just for promotional purposes but also to establish a much longer term, loyalty-focused relationship with their customers. In such a relationship, there are some unique monetization opportunities for providers and content producers alike. Scott Brown, who directs marketing for our Cisco Media Solutions Group and is an all-around cool guy to boot, was on a panel of thought leaders in the industry talking about “monetizing social” and shares some of the highlights and main takeaways from the conversation with new media leaders of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Universal Music, BBC Worldwide, and more.

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IBC 2010: IP Video Groundswell – What’s Next?

Given the flurry of recent announcements on video content services, industry analysts and pundits have been busy assessing or commenting on the likely implications and outcomes.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about where broadband service providers will likely be pursuing new related revenue opportunities. We believe that the upside market potential for forward-looking SPs is perhaps limited only by our own imagination. Here’s my perspective:

Apparently, we’ve collectively reached a point where an IP video strategy is considered a given. The focus has shifted to where to place appropriate emphasis towards that strategic direction. For example, we are now seeing some service providers leveraging their medianet assets to enable an increasing array of wholesale content delivery network (CDN) services.

We envision that broadband service providers will be working more closely with content providers. They now share a common cause – preparing for the evolving video consumption habits of mainstream consumers. Moreover, it appears that we’re already moving beyond the early-adopter stage of digital video consumption, via TV screens within the family room, towards anywhere, anytime delivery of video services to many devices.

How can service providers leverage their networks to engage new customers and thereby capture market share? First, let’s keep in mind that video quality of service (QoS) is an important attribute for a superior quality of experience that consumers will truly appreciate and value. Content delivery networks out there are already helping media providers to deliver content to consumers, but with an “over the top” delivery at the end that offers no guarantees of quality of service. Now, service providers are uniquely positioned to offer content providers such delivery services though their networks, with an assured quality of experience, all the way to viewers.

Armed with a solid service delivery foundation, retail IP video providers can then freely explore distinctive value-add service benefits. If providers have access to similar video content selections, then perhaps they must choose to innovate in other areas. Services such as multi-screen delivery, and targeted advertising, certainly come to mind.

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IBC 2010: Network Infrastructure – The Backbone for Connected Video Devices

As IBC gets into full swing around the twin themes of connected devices and IP video-galore, a note from the quieter (but just as promising) infrastructure sidelines…

The proliferation of intelligent devices at the end points of the network is dramatic. No doubt. This period we’re in now – fledgling tablets, smarter smart phones, and all sizes of screens blanketed by a wired or wireless Internet connection – it’s a major milestone in the timeline that is the rise of IP.

However, let’s not forget the role of the network. Those intelligent devices need to connect to one another over something – and just because the end points are smart doesn’t mean the middle can relax.

Consider: Our most recent Visual Networking Index (VNI), which predicts bandwidth usage, anticipates a four-fold increase in global Internet traffic by 2014, to 767 Exabytes. That’s about 10x all the traffic that moved over IP networks in 2008. No sign of slowdown. In fact, just the opposite!

With that kind of growth happening over a relatively short span, it’s important to pay an equal amount of attention to infrastructure. The plant. The network. In short, infrastructure matters. It’s always time to pay attention to the middle, in addition to the end points.

And with that as a jumping-off point, two items of interest that we’re hoping don’t get overlooked in the IBC excitement:

  1. We just became the first manufacturer to submit every component within an end-to-end Carrier Ethernet system to the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), and were validated to meet both MEF 9 and MEF 14 requirements by test lab Iometrix. It’s behind-the-scenes news, yes, but it’s the kind of achievement that lays the foundation for the trust that comes with successfully interoperating products.
  2. We’re grateful and glad to spread the word about Spanish networking  provider Abertis Telecom, which is prepping its plant into an IP NGN (next generation network) capable of carrying contribution-grade video, video production signals, carrier Ethernet, and high-end content distribution to its customers of terrestrial, satellite and fiber transport.

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IBC 2010: Leading the Pack in “Contribution-Grade” IP Video

There was a time when broadcasters had doubts about whether IP could support major live events. Today, the biggest sporting events and live broadcasts in the world are delivered via IP. And Cisco, an early pioneer in IP contribution, is playing a central role in bringing high-profile media events to global audiences.

When we talk about media and broadcast solutions, we often see the phrase “contribution-grade.” But what does that mean exactly? It means that IP media technologies are now widely used to transport the highest quality video feeds in the demanding, high-pressure and high-visibility broadcast environments.

Examples of this are all around us. Today, Cisco announced that it has deepened its relationship with Level 3. Cisco is providing the Cisco Digital Content Manager Gateway to provide video encoding services including the delivery of uncompressed as well as JPEG 2000 compressed HD video feeds over Level 3’s new Vyvx VenueNet+ contribution network infrastructure. This upgrade to Level 3’s Emmy Award-winning Vyvx VenueNet transmission service will provide even higher quality HD and SD video encoding, as well as other IP-enabled services in all 31 major professional football venues in time for the 2010 football season.

February 2010 turned out to be an important month in the annals of IP video contribution, as Cisco also worked with Level 3 Communications to provide uncompressed content delivery for Super Bowl XLIV – helping deliver broadcast-grade media to an estimated 1 billion viewers worldwide.

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IBC 2010: See You in Amsterdam!

Cisco at IBC 2010It’s that time again when many of us gather our passport, pack the big bag, and head off to the annual IBC exhibition and conference, in Amsterdam (September 9-14.) This year, I’d love to take a count of how many attendees arrive with more than a laptop for getting broadband, and everything that can ride on it — because portability seems the over-riding trend of the summer of 2010.

Consider: Since the Consumer Electronics Show, in January (seems so long ago already), the global marketplace exploded with smart phones, tablets, and devices that come plumbed with a high-speed Internet connection. Video on the go is becoming as normal as voice services on the go were, two decades ago.

We’re one of many exhibiting at this year’s IBC, of course, but we’ve been hard at work on technologies that we hope will give you reason to stop by and see us in Hall 1. Stand D.71. At Cisco, our life’s mission is to help service providers to fulfill their customers’ desires for convenience and choice, in communications and entertainment. Part of that is gear, of course, and we have plenty of that (see below.)

Another big focus, and necessity, is the continued creation of an IP eco-system (to use an over-used term) of companies and techniques and technologies. The construction of an all-IP, or even mostly-IP world will require all of us, working together – even though in many cases we also compete with one another. Being a participant in the IP eco-system means being open, figuratively and literally, to a marketplace committed to connected devices, fueled by network intelligence, in a way that just works for consumers.

Here’s what’s on tap from your friends Cisco, at this year’s IBC:

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