New Tools Streamline Ad Delivery
Telestream, DG Systems send spots directly to station servers
By Ken Kerschbaumer -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/13/2005 7:00:00 PM
Television spots used to be delivered to stations in one of two ways. They were either sent as an electronic file via satellite or physically mailed on a videotape.
Now DG Systems and Telestream have joined forces to streamline ad delivery. Starting this week, TV spots can be electronically delivered directly onto play-to-air video servers at broadcast and cable facilities.
DG Systems delivers more than 4.5 million TV spots digitally to 3,100 destinations—including TV and radio broadcasters, cable networks, and cable operators—on behalf of its 5,000 ad-agency clients.
“This automates a very labor-intensive process,” explains Telestream CEO Dan Castles. “There is no tape, no handling. And,” he adds, “it's easy to justify the expense: There is a proven return on investment.”
The new workflow starts at the DG Spotbox video server, a device that receives the incoming commercial at a TV facility. Telestream's Traffic Manager takes the commercial, converts it into whichever video format a station needs, then sends it, and any related metadata, to its play-to-air server.
The DG Spotbox is free, but the Telestream Traffic Manager costs $45,000 for software, hardware, installation and training. The system streamlines operations, consolidating media and metadata into a single traffic-monitoring application. It also creates viewing opportunities. Once a spot arrives, sales and traffic personnel can verify the quality.
Last week, three Fox-owned stations—WNYW New York, WWOR New York and WUTB Baltimore—became the first stations to install the new equipment.
“We're hoping it will provide seamless integration of third-party servers, like the DG Spotbox, into core servers used at our facilities,” says Al Shjarback, WNYW VP, operations and engineering. Although he says it's too early to predict savings, he does believe it will improve video and audio quality.
The joint deployment of Spotbox and Traffic Manager makes getting a TV spot on air fast and efficient. Station personnel typically dub electronically delivered spots onto tape, then re-ingest them onto the play-to-air server. Each time a spot is dubbed, the quality takes a slight hit. But having spots in a file format maintains the original image quality of the commercial. Also, spot ID information typically needed to be manually entered into the system. “Now we can pick up metadata from DG Systems, information like who is the client, duration, and any other details about the spot,” says Castles.
Scott Ginsberg, chairman and CEO of DG Systems, says his agency clients also benefit from the new system. They, too, want their images pristine, and they want spots to be received properly, which the Traffic Manager system verifies. If a spot is not sent correctly, it is resent, assuring the agency that its client will be happy with the final on-air product.
“There are competing networks,” says Ginsberg, alluding to Fast Channel, which also delivers spots, via the Internet, for more than 5,000 advertisers to more than 3,000 destinations. “But ours is the most technically advanced when you take into account the digital delivery options, the transparency and the storage capacity.”
While Telestream's emphasis is on making it easy to move TV spots in a station, Castles says the system can also be used for other things. Traffic Manager can pull a promo off an Avid editor and handle it like a spot. This kind of value-added feature, he believes, gives his next-generation delivery system its competitive edge. “Once a TV station drinks the Kool-Aid, they'll automate,” he says.
But Ginsberg says DG Systems has only begun to innovate. The company is now working on a digital order-entry and -management system that will create new workflows for advertisers and stations.
“They'll be able to look into our system, see where a spot is and even capture it,” Ginsberg says. “The agency will know if a station has played a spot or if there are any network issues. It makes the delivery process that much more transparent.”
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