Technology

On-Demand Ads Finally Ready for Their Close-Up

Dynamic VOD ad insertion could be in 40 million homes by 2013 11/12/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Canoe Ventures Quietly Reboots

Since Canoe Ventures signifi cantly downsized its operations this year, the organization—backed by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks—has been playing a quiet but major role in the deployment of dynamic ad insertion technologies. “We have a singular focus on VOD dynamic ad insertion,” says Joel Hassell, CEO of Canoe, which went live with its VOD dynamic insertion platform in June.

While the group has announced only one network partner, FearNet, much progress has been made. Comcast has certified more than 30 programmers that the MSO expects will work with Canoe to launch dynamic VOD ad insertion in late 2012 and 2013, says Matt Strauss, senior VP of digital and emerging platforms for Comcast Cable.

Canoe’s work is important both for expanding the reach of DAI platforms and simplifying the process. Canoe is providing “one-stop shopping for programmers so they can offer national dynamic ad insertion across multiple MSOs” without having to figure out how to interface with the different infrastructures of Comcast, Time Warner Cable and others, Hassell says.

Canoe has also built a platform that could eventually be used for ad delivery to multiple devices on both VOD and TV Everywhere offerings. “The platform is designed to support any number of devices, be it the TV or tablets,” Hassell adds. —GW

 We've heard nearly a decade of talk about the promise of
dynamic ad insertion (DAI) in video-on-demand content. And those efforts, it
seems, are finally making notable progress.

"Nearly 30 million U.S. homes are now enabled for dynamic
advertising" in Comcast and Time Warner Cable systems, says Nick Troiano,
president of BlackArrow, which supplies dynamic VOD insertion technologies to
Comcast, TWC and others. Troiano expects the total to hit 35 million to 40
million in 2013.

The developments are important because viewers are
increasingly migrating to ondemand viewing. Comcast, which will have DAI
systems deployed in "90% to 100%" of its footprint by year-end, now serves up
some 400 million on-demand video streams a month on its traditional VOD
platform, which is regularly used by 75% of its subscribers, notes Matt
Strauss, senior VP of digital and emerging platforms for Comcast Cable.

But until recently, monetizing the VOD platform was
difficult given the complexity of inserting new ads into VOD content. However,
DAI technologies overcame that problem by quickly changing the ads embedded in
VOD content, which makes the VOD platform much more attractive to movie
studios, retailers and other sponsors with time-sensitive messages.

"Dynamic ad insertion is where our clients want to go and
where we want to go," says Peter Blacker, executive VP of digital media and
emerging business, Telemundo Media. The Hispanic broadcaster is planning to
deploy a DAI system by year-end to help capitalize on growing usage of VOD that
made it the "No. 1 U.S. Hispanic VOD provider," Blacker adds.

To further expand those efforts, operators are also looking
at systems that would integrate the VOD and TV Everywhere platforms so that
advertisers could easily carry out cross-platform campaigns for live TV, VOD,
mobile and online. Vendors including Adobe, Avail-TVN, Elemental and SeaChange
have developed or are developing technologies for those efforts.

"The ultimate objective is to unify dynamic ad insertion
across platforms so that we can monetize these audiences and platforms in a way
we haven't been able to do in the past," Strauss says.

Addressable ad technologies that can serve ads targeted to
specific demographic groups are another major focus. Cablevision has deployed
addressable advertising systems throughout its footprint, and Dish Network has
done more than 35 addressable campaigns across its footprint of about 8 million
subscribers with addressable set-top boxes.

That has produced a significant amount of interest from
advertisers because it allows them to both target their messages and have
better control over campaigns, says Warren Schlichting, senior VP of Dish Media
Sales.

Schlichting notes that the industry must work together on
standards-based technologies so that advertisers can run campaigns across
multiple operators. "Eight million homes is great, but we want to get to 20
million, 40 million, 60 million homes as soon as we can," Schlichting says.
"That is when the industry really starts to change."

Vendors are focusing on several key areas to further develop
dynamic ad insertion and addressable advertising systems, both for live and
on-demand programming.

Jim Riley, Avail-TVN's chief revenue officer, notes that
they are already seeing increased demand for their technologies that help
programmers prepare programming for VOD dynamic ad insertion.

"Many major networks are asking us to do incremental work to
prepare assets for dynamic ad insertion," he says.

To help streamline that process, the company launched the
Advanced Advertising Insertion and Marking service (AAIM) last year, and this
year added a number of features to that tool. These include support for
mid-roll ads and placement opportunity authoring and management capabilities,
which allow placement and business rules to be made available through a POIS
interface using SCTE-130 standards.

Better reporting, measurement and data management will also
be crucial, Riley and others note.

Troiano at BlackArrow notes that they launched a Subscriber
Information Service tool this year that is designed to help operators provide
addressable ads across multiple platforms. "It is a data product that is
focusing on helping pay TV operators leverage subscriber data for
addressability that provides integrated or consistent data across all the
platforms, be it VOD, online or interactive," he says.

BlackArrow has also added ability to dynamically insert ads
into live streams.

This move to put targeted ads into live streams of content
for multiple platforms is another major focus of technological development.

Keith Wymbs, VP marketing at Elemental notes that
multiplatform delivery has been a major focus of their work and that they
demonstrated solutions supporting the Event Signaling and Management (ESAM)
dynamic ad insertion standard at the September 2012 CableLabs Linear and IP Ad
Interoperability event.

At the event, Elemental showed its products with a linear
broadcast architecture and "in workflows designed to support dynamic ad
insertion for new media," Wymbs says.

The use of standards is particularly important in
simplifying the process of deploying these systems. "In general, when you have
standards, you have fewer questions about how operators and programmers can
monetize the content," he notes.

Others agree. SeaChange International has adopted a
standards-based approach to its advanced advertising solutions, which include
Infusion Spot and Infusion Ad Pulse, which are capable of handling live and
on-demand content delivered to multiple platforms, notes Aseem Bakshi, general
manager of advertising at SeaChange International.

Bakshi sees a four-stage development in multiplatform
advertising. It starts with developing the systems for retransmitting TV content
to other platforms and then progresses to the point where new ads can be
inserted into the content. "This is where we are today," he says.

The next step, he believes, will be targeted and addressable
ads that could use "traditional marketing demographics," or "user behavior
analysis." A final step would be multiplatform-coordinated ads-delivering
advertising to a mobile phone or tablet-that would enhance a linear TV ad.

Bakshi also sees the market moving away from the use of
multiple formats that have made it so complex and costly to deliver content to
multiple devices. One encouraging development is the growing reach of Apple's
HLS, which is making widespread progress. "The format wars," he says, are
coming to an end, with Android 4.0 supporting Apple's HLS.

A number of major business issues, however, are still under
discussion. Currently, the traditional split of advertising between operators
and programmers for cable programming seems to be moving to VOD and other
platforms. But this could change over time, with different splits being agreed
upon for content after the initial six-day window.

"A lot of the technical and workflow issues are pretty much
handled," says Riley. "It's really now a matter of the networks and the
operators sorting through what the business relationships are going to be."

E-mail comments to gpwin@oregoncoast.com
and follow him on Twitter: @GeorgeWinslow

Canoe Ventures Quietly Reboots

Since Canoe Ventures signifi cantly downsized its operations this year, the organization—backed by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks—has been playing a quiet but major role in the deployment of dynamic ad insertion technologies. “We have a singular focus on VOD dynamic ad insertion,” says Joel Hassell, CEO of Canoe, which went live with its VOD dynamic insertion platform in June.

While the group has announced only one network partner, FearNet, much progress has been made. Comcast has certified more than 30 programmers that the MSO expects will work with Canoe to launch dynamic VOD ad insertion in late 2012 and 2013, says Matt Strauss, senior VP of digital and emerging platforms for Comcast Cable.

Canoe’s work is important both for expanding the reach of DAI platforms and simplifying the process. Canoe is providing “one-stop shopping for programmers so they can offer national dynamic ad insertion across multiple MSOs” without having to figure out how to interface with the different infrastructures of Comcast, Time Warner Cable and others, Hassell says.

Canoe has also built a platform that could eventually be used for ad delivery to multiple devices on both VOD and TV Everywhere offerings. “The platform is designed to support any number of devices, be it the TV or tablets,” Hassell adds. —GW

 

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