Posted on: May 31, 2017

Microsoft Azure Media Services has been around for awhile now, and people love it. The extensible cloud-based platform makes it possible for developers to construct fully scalable media management/delivery applications. The program is based on REST APIs which allow users to securely upload, store, encode, and package multimedia content for delivery via on-demand and/or live streaming. Another part of Media Services is Azure Media Player. This media player is the actual medium through which clients and end users can access the content you’ve created. Recent upgrades to Azure Media Player have allowed Microsoft users to step up their game and start monetizing their digital videos – amongst other things – and we’re really excited about it.

Video Ads for Azure Media Player 

It was revealed at the National Association of Broadcaster’s (NAB) Show in Vegas earlier this year that Microsoft would be releasing Azure Media Player version 2, which would support video advertisements, and the update is here now! So, how does it work? According to Saili Raje, one of Microsoft Azure Media Services’ program managers, any videos played through Azure Media Player can support the “insertion of linear advertisements for pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll…” In other words, you now have the freedom to incorporate ads into your videos at the beginning, middle, or end of your custom content in order to monetize your work. The ads are both grabbed and interposed into videos via the VAST (Video Ad Serving Template) standard.

If you’re interested in monetizing your videos with advertisements, you’ll need to update to version 2.1 (at minimum) of Azure Media Player. From here, you can check out Microsoft’s reworked price and billing plans for its media encoding services. Because they’ve switched things up by shifting away from a per-gigabytes-used pricing system to a model that determines cost by output minutes, typical use could result in significant savings (as much as half!).

Other Cool Changes 

In addition to everything else, Microsoft has made the smart move of adding auto-scaling functionality which empowers customers to keep an eye on their streaming task loads and to adjust their Azure cloud resource on an as-needed basis. You’ll even notice the addition of DTS-HD surround sound to your options in Premium Encoder. As you continue to play around with the updated version of Azure Media Services, you’ll discover that it’s a lot simpler to blur faces as you go via the Media Face Redactor. This is ideal for protecting the identities of customers or other individuals who may appear in your footage but do not wish to have their faces appear in your content.

One thing we were very interested in is that Azure Media Service’s streaming solution has now picked up Common Media Application Format (CMAF) support. This is significant because it has the power to greatly improve video consumption on mobile devices. Azure Media Service users will be able to expand their reach in a way that allows for storage and transmission/sharing of streaming content through a single, encrypted multimedia presentation. The media can then be presented to nearly infinite devices.

Those who are interested in what’s next will be excited about the private preview of Azure Media Video Annotator. The annotator will have the ability to ID objects like homes, cars, and videos. Ultimately, this will make it possible to offer deep search capabilities to customers within applications so that video content can be fetched based on very specific criteria.

While Azure Media Services may not be anything new, Microsoft is constantly working to keep its technology fresh and updated. The latest versions of Media Services and Azure Media Player allow for exciting new possibilities. Learn more about Azure Media Services by reaching out to the pros at Uncommon Solutions today.