Turner Optimizes Ad Placement With ‘Spot Scheduler Solver’

Insisting that current ad scheduling software solutions aren’t getting the job done, Turner Broadcasting has invented its own approach.

“The process of scheduling linear media advertisement spots into commercial breaks tends to be tedious, prone to errors, and incomplete. While some software products are available to receive an advertiser’s order for the placement of spots into commercial breaks, these products either simply try to fill empty holes that exist within already scheduled commercial breaks on a first come, first placed basis, or do not address all requirements associated with the commercials,” Turner states in a patent application published on Thursday. “As a result, the software products currently available typically fail to honor all the constraints and requirements for each of the spots. In some instances, even after software products have been initially used, a majority of the spot placements has to be performed manually, leading to the errors and incomplete placements described above.”

Turner, which owns TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network and CNN, said its “spot scheduler solver” would assign commercials into “inventory buckets” and use a “prioritization scheme” when conflicts arise.

Adreea Popescu, former operations research manager at Turner Broadcasting, is named as lead inventor on the patent application, titled, “Method And System For Scheduling Commercial Advertisement.” Popescu is now senior manager of decision sciences at Atlanta-based Videa LLC.

Abstract: A method and system for scheduling commercial advertisement are described in which a data processing system having the spot scheduler solver may be operable to receive an advertiser’s order to pace advertisement or commercial spots into one or more commercial television breaks. The order may comprise various constraints and requirements corresponding to the spots. The spots may be assigned to inventory buckets within the commercial breaks based on the constraints and requirements. When a conflict arises, a prioritization scheme may be performed to complete the assignment of spots not assigned and to generate a commercial break schedule. The prioritization scheme may be based on spot arrival lead time or on maximizing the sum of the rates corresponding to the spots. The data processing system may maximize the spread of the spots over the commercial break schedule. The commercial break schedule may be adjusted when additional orders are received.

Patent Application

Claims:

1-30. (canceled)

  1. A method, comprising: in a data processing system comprising one or more processors that are operable to process data: receiving an advertiser’s order to place one or more spots into one or more commercial breaks, wherein the advertiser’s order comprises airing constraints and placement requirements corresponding to the one or more spots, and each of the one or more commercial breaks comprises a plurality of inventory buckets; assigning each of the one or more spots to at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets that are within each of the one or more commercial breaks based on the airing constraints and placement requirements; assigning, when at least one of the one or more spots are not assigned to the at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets that are within each of the one or more commercial breaks, the at least one of the one or more spots that are not assigned based on a prioritization scheme, wherein spots are prioritized based on arrival lead time, all spots for a particular order are given same priority, and priorities are chosen such that a sum of all priorities post a certain arrival time is less than a priority on any spot prior to the certain arrival time; and generating a commercial break schedule based on the completed assignment of the one or more spots that are not assigned.
  1. The method according to claim 31, comprising maximizing spread of days in which the one or more spots occur over the duration of the commercial break schedule.
  1. The method according to claim 31, comprising maximizing a sum of rates corresponding to the one or more spots that are not assigned.
  1. The method according to claim 31, wherein the airing constraints corresponding to each of the one or more spots comprise one or more of network constraints, selling title constraints, inventory type constraints, allowable date and time constraints, and advertiser conflict constraints.
  1. The method of claim 31, wherein the placement requirements corresponding to each of the one or more spots comprise one or more of associative constraints, position constraints, time separation constraints, franchise and/or title exclusion constraints, and spot pinning constraints.
  1. The method according to claim 35, wherein the associative constraints define the positioning of any two or more spots relative to each other within the same one of the at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets or in adjacent inventory buckets.
  1. The method according to claim 35, wherein the position constraints define the positioning of any one spot in one of the at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets and/or in a commercial break.
  1. The method according to claim 31, comprising: receiving an additional advertiser’s order to place one or more additional spots into the one or more commercial breaks, wherein the additional advertiser’s order comprises constraints and placement requirements corresponding to the one or more additional spots; and assigning each of the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots to at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets within the one or more commercial breaks based on the corresponding constraints and placement requirements.
  1. The method according to claim 38, comprising, assigning the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots that is not assigned, when at least one of the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots is not assigned, to complete the assignment of the at least one of the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots is not assigned.
  1. The method according to claim 39, comprising modifying the generated commercial break schedule based on the completed assignment of the at least one of the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots is not assigned.
  1. An apparatus, comprising: a data processing system comprising one or more hardware processors that are operable to process data, that at least one hardware processor being operable to: receive an advertiser’s order to place one or more spots into one or more commercial breaks, wherein the advertiser’s order comprises airing constraints and placement requirements corresponding to the one or more spots, and each of the one or more commercial breaks comprises a plurality of inventory buckets; assign each of the one or more spots to at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets that are within each of the one or more commercial breaks based on the airing constraints and placement requirements; assign, when at least one of the one or more spots are not assigned to the at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets that are within each of the one or more commercial breaks, the at least one of the one or more spots that are not assigned based on a prioritization scheme, wherein spots are prioritized based on arrival lead time, all spots for a particular order are given same priority, and priorities are chosen such that a sum of all priorities post a certain arrival time is less than a priority on any spot prior to the certain arrival time; and generate a commercial break schedule based on the completed assignment of the one or more spots that are not assigned.
  1. The apparatus according to claim 41, wherein the at least one hardware processor is operable to maximize spread of days in which the one or more spots occur over the duration of the commercial break schedule.
  1. The apparatus according to claim 41, wherein the at least one hardware processor is operable to maximize a sum of rates corresponding to the one or more spots that are not assigned.
  1. The apparatus according to claim 41, wherein the airing constraints corresponding to each of the one or more spots comprise one or more of network constraints, selling title constraints, inventory type constraints, allowable date and time constraints, and advertiser conflict constraints.
  1. The apparatus of claim 41, wherein the placement requirements corresponding to each of the one or more spots comprise one or more of associative constraints, position constraints, time separation constraints, franchise and/or title exclusion constraints, and spot pinning constraints.
  1. The apparatus of claim 45, wherein the associative constraints define the positioning of any two or more spots relative to each other within the same one of the at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets or in adjacent inventory buckets.
  1. The apparatus of claim 45, wherein the position constraints define the positioning of any one spot in one of the at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets and/or in a commercial break.
  1. The apparatus according to claim 41, wherein the at least one hardware processor is operable to: receive an additional advertiser’s order to place one or more additional spots into the one or more commercial breaks, wherein the additional advertiser’s order comprises constraints and placement requirements corresponding to the one or more additional spots; and assign each of the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots to at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets within the one or more commercial breaks based on the corresponding constraints and placement requirements.
  1. The apparatus according to claim 48, comprising, assigning the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots that is not assigned, when at least one of the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots is not assigned, to complete the assignment of the at least one of the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots is not assigned.
  1. The apparatus according to claim 49, wherein the at least one hardware processor is operable to modify the generated commercial break schedule based on the completed assignment of the at least one of the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots is not assigned.
  1. A non-transitory computer-readable medium having stored thereon, a computer program having at least one code section for processing data in a data processing system, the at least one code section being executable by a computer to cause the computer to perform steps comprising: receiving an advertiser’s order to place one or more spots into one or more commercial breaks, wherein the advertiser’s order comprises airing constraints and placement requirements corresponding to the one or more spots, and each of the one or more commercial breaks comprises a plurality of inventory buckets; assigning each of the one or more spots to at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets that are within each of the one or more commercial breaks based on the airing constraints and placement requirements; assigning, when at least one of the one or more spots are not assigned to the at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets that are within each of the one or more commercial breaks, the at least one of the one or more spots that are not assigned based on a prioritization scheme, wherein spots are prioritized based on arrival lead time, all spots for a particular order are given same priority, and priorities are chosen such that a sum of all priorities post a certain arrival time is less than a priority on any spot prior to the certain arrival time; and generating a commercial break schedule based on the completed assignment of the one or more spots that are not assigned.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium to claim 51, wherein the at least one code section comprises code for maximizing spread of days in which the one or more spots occur over the duration of the commercial break schedule.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium according to claim 51, wherein the at least one code section comprises code for maximizing a sum of rates corresponding to the one or more spots that are not assigned.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium according to claim 51, wherein the airing constraints corresponding to each of the one or more spots comprise one or more of network constraints, selling title constraints, inventory type constraints, allowable date and time constraints, and advertiser conflict constraints.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 51, wherein the placement requirements corresponding to each of the one or more spots comprise one or more of associative constraints, position constraints, time separation constraints, franchise and/or title exclusion constraints, and spot pinning constraints.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium according to claim 55, wherein the associative constraints define the positioning of any two or more spots relative to each other within the same one of the at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets or in adjacent inventory buckets.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium according to claim 55, wherein the position constraints define the positioning of any one spot in one of the at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets and/or in a commercial break.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium according to claim 51, wherein the at least one code section comprises code for: receiving an additional advertiser’s order to place one or more additional spots into the one or more commercial breaks, wherein the additional advertiser’s order comprises constraints and placement requirements corresponding to the one or more additional spots; and assigning each of the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots to at least one of the plurality of inventory buckets within the one or more commercial breaks based on the corresponding constraints and placement requirements.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium according to claim 58, wherein the at least one code section comprises code for assigning the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots that is not assigned, when at least one of the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots is not assigned, to complete the assignment of the at least one of the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots is not assigned.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium according to claim 59, wherein the at least one code section comprises code for modifying the generated commercial break schedule based on the completed assignment of the at least one of the one or more spots and the one or more additional spots is not assigned.