Cable Operators

Atlas Aims To Lift Ad Business

9/01/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

With yet another technology partner secured, digital marketing technology provider Atlas is well on its way to bringing some law and order to the video-on-demand advertising frontier.

The company is developing Atlas on Demand, an advertising management system that allows agencies to place spots on multiple on-demand services and track their effectiveness. It recently added a key plank to that project when it secured an integration deal with VOD systems supplier Concurrent Computer Corp.

Integration Deals

Atlas has similar integration deals with on-demand vendors C-COR Inc., SeaChange International Inc. and Tandberg Television, and by adding Concurrent — along with that company's data collection subsidiary Everstream — it now can reach into the four largest content server and system suppliers systems to place ads and collect crucial data.

With that, it will create the largest system for measuring and monitoring VOD ad campaigns to date, said Atlas senior vice president and general manager Scott Ferris.

Adding Concurrent creates a critical mass for on-demand technology platforms, “and that's what agencies care about — they care about not having to do a lot of heavy lifting in having to deal with Comcast [Corp.] versus Cox [Communications Inc.] versus Charter [Communications Inc.] versus Time Warner [Cable],” Ferris said. “They are all selling it in a different way; and for the agency, their head explodes trying to deal with the myriad methodologies and ways of doing business.”

It's not exactly new territory for Atlas. Outside of the on-demand world, Atlas has developed software for almost 1,000 media agencies, which use it to plan, buy and track media buys. Most of those transactions have been for Web-based advertising, but now it is moving into other realms, including VOD.

For advertisers and agents, Atlas on Demand allows them to see data on how many consumers are watching their ads so they can best position spots. For programmers, the system offers a way to extend their ad management systems from linear to on demand, and arrange ad availabilities.

In effect, it rebuilds for VOD the advertising relationships already at work in linear TV, Ferris noted.

“It gives that direct feedback loop to the agency and it is taking the technology barriers away from the buyers of the media to transact with the sellers,” Ferris said. “We think this unlocks the value of on-demand advertising, and we're getting incredible interest from the buying side of the community. And we are getting great interest from the selling side of the community — both networks and operators.”

Another big issue for advertisers has been the inability to update ads for VOD. To that end, it is creating a first version of a dynamic ad insertion system that will allow advertisers to swap out commercials connected to programming on demand and measure how often viewers watch an ad versus fast-forward through it.

Atlas will also work to sell industry players on the idea of dynamic ad insertion across a wide group of operators and programmers.

“It's in the very early stages of building this infrastructure, but we do see a lot of alignment and a lot of momentum,” Ferris said. “And we want to go and prove the case.”

Telco Targets

Once that is accomplished, the next step will be to reach out to other video providers, including telcos such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., as well as emerging Web TV service providers.

Indeed, advertisers are looking for ways to better harness on-demand programming.

But to do so they need the data to be able to adjust their strategies, according to Jupiter Research analyst Todd Chanko. The fact that Atlas has already developed such systems in the Internet advertising world also helps, he added.

“I think that Atlas' idea is sound. I think advertisers are clearly looking for more accountability,” Chanko said.

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