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
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.”