Cable Operators

Vendors Get Dynamic

1/16/2005 7:00 PM Eastern

Video-on-demand software suppliers are getting into the on-demand advertising space.

The vendors have been working with cable companies to produce software that allows for dynamic insertion of spots into VOD programs, in the same manner as linear digital channels.

N2 Broadband Inc. has completed lab work on its AdPoint Campaign Manager and AdPoint Media Manager systems, with plans for four lab trials with MSOs — including Comcast Corp.’s ad unit, Comcast Spotlight — early this year.

OUT IN SPRING

The hope is that the software will be ready for actual deployment before the end of the second quarter, said N2 vice president of content and advertising markets Raj Amin.

And Everstream Inc., which provides VOD software allowing MSOs to gather statistics in a number of key metrics, has an advertising-software module as part of its product suite.

Amin said N2’s work has centered on creating an open standard for metadata that can work in tandem with current specifications. The current metadata spec has several open “fields,” in which MSOs can enter information to dynamically insert ads.

N2 is working on a more-specific specification to address VOD advertising, so it’s not just an “add-on” feature to current software.

The new software would allow an advertiser to run a 30-second ad inside a VOD program, plus link to a longer-form programming piece.

N2 has been active in advertising-development circles in an effort bridge the gap between cable’s newer technology and Madison Avenue.

N2’s AdPoint marks content in a new way, Amin said. “The metadata gets wrapped into content,” he said.

Currently, cue tones for 30-second ads must be inserted into the programming, but ad-unit sizes vary. By eliminating cue tones and using metadata that rides on the content, programmers and operators have greater flexibility as to the length of ads used, and where they’re placed.

Once a consumer asks for a piece of VOD content, the ad-software system will check to see if a spot is scheduled for that program. The content will have “avail” markings in it from the metadata, Amin said.

“We can grab that content, process the request and call out to the ad management service and get the ads for that content,” he said.

PICKUP AT EVERSTREAM

Everstream has offered a VOD solution product for a number of years, but has only seen interest pick up in the past year, said president and CEO Stephen McHale.

The vendor offers a patented addressable-advertising software program that includes a campaign-management system, he said. “We can provide another level of targeting.”

For example, General Motors Corp. might want to reach homes with a certain level of income. Based on demographic information, MSOs could use Everstream’s software to send content only to those nodes GM desires.

Concurrent Computer Corp., which has a small ownership interest in Everstream, has licensed its software and both companies are making pitches to cable operators and advertisers.

McHale said ad solutions have evolved slowly because VOD performance metrics weren’t in place.

Everstream has addressed that issue, he said, paving the way for progress on the ad front.

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