Behind the Screens: Meet Lead Architect Ben Perry

09.26.2022 Frances Mooney5 min

Welcome back to ‘Behind the Screens,’ a monthly blog series in which we introduce members of our Cox Media team.

This month, I was joined by Ben Perry, Lead Architect for Cox Media’s Product & Technology team. He shared how he is partnering with Cox Communications (Cox Media’s parent company) to solve for local ad insertion availability with evolving television technologies.

Thanks for joining me, Ben. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and how long you’ve been in Cox Media?

I’m Ben Perry. I’m fairly new to Cox Media specifically—around one year—but I’ve been with Cox Communications for 20 years as of November.

I originally started in Cox Communications as a contractor in 2001 when I was 22 years old. Back then, I wrote the first test cases for Video on Demand (VOD) and then proceeded throughout my career to focus primarily on VOD projects.

A couple of fun facts about me: I married my high school sweetheart. I met her in 1997 and we have two kids, a 10-year-old-son Braeden and my 4 -year-old daughter Zoe

We’re glad to have you on board with us! Can you give me an overview of your role and what you’re doing for Cox Media now?

You may have discussed it in your interview with my teammate Jibril Esa, but we (Cox Media) recently started an internal development team. I went from being a systems engineer to a solutions architect, an opportunity I was thrilled to jump into. This Cox Media team still works in close partnership with the teams at Cox Communications, so overall the transition has been smooth.

Out of the projects I’m working on, my primary focus has been IPTV DAI: Internet Protocol TV Digital Ad Insertion.

Yes, I’ve heard that you’re plugging heavily into the IPTV project on the technology side. Can you give our readers a little more context about what IPTV is?

IPTV stands for Internet Protocol TV. Essentially, we are delivering linear TV over Internet Protocol networks, which is an update to the way the industry’s existing technology has been able to deliver linear TV.

Specifically, we are working on IPTV Digital Ad Insertion or DAI. The industry is transitioning from the legacy QAM video delivery platform (the format by which cable television is transmitted) to an all-IP video delivery platform. One major benefit of this is that it frees up a lot of bandwidth to use products like high-speed Internet more effectively.

The purpose of the IPTV DAI project I’m working on is to make sure that the user experience for households with IPTV and those using the QAM delivery platform is uniform.

As it is right now, a household with both a QAM and an IP platform could see two different advertisements play at the same time, one on the QAM and another on the IP. This could be confusing for our Cox Media customers as local advertisers who may see their ad messages on one screen, but not the other.

This project will address this issue and restore advertising inventory for local ad insertion

So, what are the tools and systems that we are developing to accommodate IPTV?

Together with the teams at Cox Communications, we’ve built several tools, including dashboards that are used to monitor schedules and create alerts as files are being delivered. We’ve also built a monitoring tool for tracking IPTV beacons, which are notifications we receive when a viewer has seen an ad we placed. This is an insight we have with IPTV that we didn’t have on QAM. We’ve also built an app that monitors IPTV for signals in the stream that tells us when we’re able to place ads, and it will let us know if there’s a problem with the network or the stream that’s missing ad opportunities, so we can act on it quickly.

On all of the above, our partnership with the Cox Communications development team cannot be understated. I’m lucky to be working with many of my former teammates on that side of the house, and they have been instrumental in helping us meet our goals.

That’s a lot of moving parts! How are they going to be used to support our business?

The nature of our ad insertion and trafficking ecosystem is very time sensitive. Our ad schedules are generally published each evening for the following error date, and the verification files for the previous day start getting processed shortly after midnight. Many of the tools that I just mentioned really focus on ensuring timely delivery of our schedules, ad content, and verification files.

Once we deliver the ad schedules to the Cox Communications team, they audit schedules, look for any missing content and immediately request that content back from our teams at Cox Media. So, really, most of these tools are focused on ensuring that we stick to the schedules and timelines we have.

I bet! So, how will IPTV set up Cox Media for the future from your perspective?

The IPTV project allows us to retain our ever-growing IPTV subscriber counts in our inventory for existing local advertising clients as we rapidly focus on moving more homes to IPTV, which will allow for bandwidth reclamation and allow us to better utilize it for other products like high-speed internet.

Looking further into the future, we are building an infrastructure that we can leverage as we continue to evolve our technology and solutions to better serve our customer base and report on campaign performance.

Here’s my last question for you: if there was one thing you would want our clients to know, what would it be?

I would say that both the Cox Media and Cox Communications development teams are very excited to open the path to local advertising through IPTV and are looking forward to adding the addressability component in the near future.

Thanks so much for talking with me, Ben! We hope you enjoyed our conversation about how we’re staying future-focused and maximizing ad availability for our local advertisers.

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About the Author

Frances Mooney

Frances Mooney is the Sr. Marketing Communications Specialist for Cox Media Oklahoma and has been with the organization for 2 years. Frances is passionate about finding ways to enhance the customer experience, and equip sales and support teams with the tools and resources they need to best serve our clients. She’s always looking for new and unique ways to create excitement around products, programming and initiatives. Outside of work, Frances spends her time caring for her garden and (many) houseplants, taking on DIY projects, hiking, and learning about conservation and sustainability.

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