Amazon Expands Its Influence On Video Infrastructure, Releases Publisher Workflow Tools

Amazon wants to own a greater chunk of the video supply chain.

Its cloud division, Amazon Web Services, released a suite of video tools called AWS Elemental Media Services on Monday, designed to help live and on-demand video content providers manage workflow.

It is available only as a managed service for now.

“We’re trying to make the video pipeline as perfect as possible and to allow anyone to integrate with it,” said Keith Wymbs, CMO of AWS Elemental.

Several publishers, including the sports OTT service FuboTV, broadcast network Fox Sports Australia and Amazon’s own Prime Video, are beta testing the solution.

Other beta partners include video content and services companies M2A Media, Cinepolis, BT, Pac-12 Networks, Nine and Imagica.

AWS Elemental Media Services originated from Amazon’s 2015 acquisition of Elemental, which created software that helped power the video infrastructure for OTT applications such as CNNGo, HBO Go and the BBC’s iPlayer.

Amazon has since rolled Elemental’s key capabilities into five products: MediaTailor, which enables dynamic ad insertion and targeting; MediaLive, which helps publishers manage live video delivery; MediaConvert, which transcodes and compresses videos into digestible file sizes; MediaPackage, which improves playback cross-screen; and MediaStore, which delivers media from storage.

Elemental also enables server-side ad insertion, an increasingly popular tactic that stitches ads and content together to prevent ad blocking and improve playback.

While Amazon has steadily built software for video content creators, publishers and distributors – including Amazon Video Direct to grab YouTube influencer dollars – AWS Elemental Media Services pushes Amazon into new territory: managing back-end video workflows, an area crowded by point solutions from Google, Adobe, Microsoft and startups like Brightcove and JW Player.

“It’s natural and smart for Amazon to target its Elemental offering into key margin creation areas around video streaming, OTT, video ad delivery and targeting, particularly those areas that are data- and process-intensive,” said Dave Morgan, CEO of the video ad platform Simulmedia. “There is no reason for them to leave this market to incumbents and Google’s new streaming TV offerings.”

FuboTV, which uses Comcast’s FreeWheel as its supply-side platform for ad decisioning, sees AWS Elemental as complementary, despite overlaps in capabilities like server-side stitching.

AWS Elemental is not a video ad server. So’s Google DoubleClick for Publishers and FreeWheel could hypothetically handle ad decisioning while AWS Elemental accelerates ad delivery.

FuboTV, for instance, will use Amazon’s service in conjunction with FreeWheel to insert and deliver dynamically targeted ads to viewers in its linear live stream.

“The decisions on which ads are served are managed by those third-party systems and ads are stored on ad servers and we would pull from those systems,” said AWS Elemental’s Wymbs. “This solution allows for the translation of those ads into a very seamless experience for the user by matching the ad to the core content.”

AWS Elemental Media Services also doesn’t compete with video players, Wymbs added.

Instead, it optimizes video ads by ingesting video metadata from a client’s video player, personalizes the video ad and then ensures it’s delivered and monetized against the right video content, like Amazon Prime Video is testing in Thursday Night NFL Football live streams.

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