The IVEP Association is readying an ambitious new smart video platform for web and TV
Transactions will be recorded onto blockchain, and tokens are intended to incentivize publishers and boost consumer loyalty.
A Canada-based non-profit association has the ambitious goal of launching a new kind of interactive video across several platforms, boosting its transactional transparency and financial viability with blockchain and tokens.
As a step toward that goal, the Interactive Video and Experience Protocol (IVEP) Association announced this week it has acquired a startup called ScreenJumper. This potentially expands the interactive capabilities of the open source format — but, first, let’s look at what IVEP is about.
The IVEP Association, founded last year and based in both Toronto and Montreal, is an offshoot of the for-profit, Toronto-based DubDub, which creates shoppable content for video.
DubDub originated the technology that the IVEP Association is now developing and proselytizing, which enables the creation and deployment of “smart objects” in a layer on top of web-based video, as well as on top of some kinds of TV programs. You can see IVEP smart objects here over an embedded video for the classic horror film, “The Blair Witch Project,” on the website of a publisher currently working with IVEP, Shared.com.
Through an Interactive Content Editor (ICE), a marketer can create and deploy these smart objects on top of video. The smart objects are programmable via a rules engine, and can be edited in real-time while the video is in play. The objects enable such functionality as shopping, chat, polling, donations or search.
“We’re building the HTTP protocol of video engagement,” IVEP founder and CEO Fred Dionne told me. A key objective, he added, is allowing publishers to have a turnkey solution outside the massive walled gardens of Facebook and Google that enables video monetization without resorting to experience-diminishing pre-roll or mid-roll ads.
In addition to overlays of smart objects in website-embedded video, the technology is designed for overlays on programs in selected smart TVs. Dionne said that some Samsung and LG smart TVs, and Comcast’s Xfinity, can support IVEP smart objects because they allow IP-based web overlays.
As an example of use cases, Dionne suggested that a viewer might be watching a music competition show like The Voice on a web site or on a compatible TV set. Overlays of smart objects could allow the viewer to vote, but they might change their functionality and appearance once the viewer has voted.
Or a father of two kids might be watching a video ad for Ford trucks. If the website has demographic data on this viewer, or the compatible TV is addressable, the overlaid graphics could show an animation of kids getting into a truck because IVEP knows something about the viewer. A click on the animation could lead to a form for requesting more info. A different viewer, with different demographics, would see a different overlaid animation.
And the tech can be used with web-embedded podcasts or radio shows, if they are played back from web pages. The smart objects appear on the web page at the appropriate points in the program.
Overlays on top of video have been available since Apple’s Quicktime and other formats first introduced them years ago. But, IVEP VP of Business Development Yves Daoust told me, IVEP’s smart objects can be updated in real time, can be deployed on various platforms, and are utilizing blockchain protocols for transparency, smart contracts and tokens.
The Ethereum blockchain protocol is employed by IVEP to record all transactions and make them available to participants. Because Ethereum’s transactional processing speed is slow, IVEP uses a batch engine that captures the transactions-to-be-recorded and feeds them to Ethereum at a speed it can handle.
The deployment of video streams and layers of smart objects will be available as a public database, but all engagement data will be private. And Ethereum-based smart contracts will be used to trigger the placement of smart objects and other actions, lowering the need for human management.
IVEP also intends to employ Ethereum-derived utility tokens, called Dubtokens. These can be purchased by content creators or publishers, and utilized for content payments in a way that is designed to discourage copyright infringement. Tokens can also be issued by publishers to consumers, as a way to encourage loyalty.
That finally brings us to the ScreenJumper purchase. Daoust founded ScreenJumper, which utilizes the inaudible-to-humans audio signal in TV soundtracks used by Nielsen for viewer tracking.
The signal allows a ScreenJumper-enabled app to know what part of which TV program a viewer is watching. This can trigger content on a phone, tablet or laptop that is exactly synchronized with the TV material.
The ScreenJumper tech is now owned by the IVEP Association, and ScreenJumper will cease to exist as a brand. It could become one more tool in IVEP’s toolbox, helping to create a platform where video is annotated by rules-based, targeted overlaid material, and is lockstep-coordinated with related material shown at the same time on other devices.
The IVEP project is in various stages of release. The ICE editor is scheduled for release in Q2, the IVEP platform is in beta for one publisher (Shared.com) and will be entering a formal beta period in about 90 days, the blockchain ledger capability is operational and tokenization is not yet fully functional. A full launch is planned for June.
IVEP’s funding, Daost said, comes from contributions by members of the public, and an ICO is planned for April to raise contributions in exchange for tokens.