Cable Operators

Translation Please: The ADM, The ADS And The Hub

7/11/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

Last time, we looked at the pros and cons of technological independence, as it relates to innovation.

“Independence,” in this sense, means “open and interoperable,” as opposed to “proprietary” and “monolithic.” It usually involves writing standards that break a thing into its component parts, which all know how to talk to each other.

In the cable past, the quest for tech independence stemmed from operators feeling too beholden to one or two big, entrenched suppliers. Billing systems and set-top conditional access/encryption systems are two well-known examples.

A more recent example of premeditated technological independence is the Petri dish of activity around the SCTE 130 standards, which define how advanced advertising components communicate.

Three new terms are among the current events of SCTE 130: “ADM-centric,” “ADS-centric,” and “hub-based.” The centricity varies, perhaps not surprisingly, depending on whether you’re talking to a supplier of ADM gear, or ADS gear.

Lingo shorthand: “ADM” stands for “Ad Delivery Manager.” Its work is to listen or watch for an ad break (again, on linear or on-demand), then ask what ad to put in, then execute its playout.

The thing it asks is the ADS, which stands for Ad Decision Service. Its job is to ask a “campaign manager” what ad to air — the traffic and billing system, in traditional parlance — and report that out to the ADM. That’s “ADS-centric.”

But because the information sources used to find the right ad to air come from other parts of the spec, the makers of ADM systems think they could parlay what ad should be aired, and play it out. That’s “ADM-centric.”

Those centricities begat the “hub” concept. Hubs talk to an assortment of ADMs (because there could be individual ADMs for linear, on-demand and other flavors of avails). Likewise, they talk to an assortment of ADSes. Their work is to arbitrate the necessary information between them all. Companies like Arris and Cisco are working on them.

Right now, SCTE 130 is a hullaballoo of “interops” and partnerships. Ultimately, though, operators will pick the boundary lines between components they need.


Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at www.translation-please.com.

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