CableLabs Releases Free Tools For Testing Dynamic VOD Ads

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CableLabs -- hoping to spur the industry's adoption of dynamic video-on-demand advertising -- has released tools under a free open-source license for testing standards-based VOD ad-insertion equipment.

The R&D consortium's Document Profile Architecture (DPA) toolset is designed to let vendors and developers test implementations based on the SCTE-130 set of specifications. SCTE-130 define techniques for the delivery of interactive and targeted ads in cable VOD systems and other on-demand environments.

Essentially, the DPA Toolset lets developers emulate multiplatform architectures for delivering ads across an array of distribution channels, including VOD streams, Web pages and interactive program guides.

"By opening access to the DPA Toolset to vendors, developers and the public at large, CableLabs is offering a speed-to-market resource that will accelerate the availability of technologies supporting advancements in electronic advertisement delivery, including the dynamic insertion of commercials into viewer-requested VOD streams," Don Dulchinos, CableLabs senior vice president of advertising and interactive services, said in a statement.

CableLabs debuted the DPA Toolset at an advanced-advertising systems interoperability event in July 2011.

Dynamic VOD advertising provides marketers much greater flexibility and targeting than traditional VOD, in which the ads must be hard-coded in with an asset. It still isn't a mainstream capability offered by the cable industry, although operators including Cablevision Systems and Comcast have deployed dynamic VOD ad systems widely.

Meanwhile, Canoe Ventures, the advanced-adverting company owned by the six largest U.S. cable operators, is gearing up to test a dynamic VOD advertising service that will span multiple operators.

CableLabs believes the release of the DPA Toolset can help move things along. The toolset has two basic functions: It lets developers create a set of profiles and provides a tool to exercise those profiles across any mixture of real and emulated devices. The profiles are exercised in a software emulator that can represent any SCTE-130 service at the message level.

BlackArrow, a startup whose investors include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cisco Systems, Motorola Mobility and NDS, weighed in with support for the DPA Toolset.

"The DPA Toolset offers our development team a ready resource for testing and verifying the interactions of complex technologies within a real-world emulation environment," said Chris Hock, BlackArrow's senior vice president of product. "Our participation in the advanced advertising event held at CableLabs this summer enabled us to use the DPA Toolset in a laboratory environment to verify key interoperable aspects of our technical development."

Resources for the DPA Toolset are now publicly available at http://dpatools.cablelabs.com.

CableLabs noted that although the DPA Toolset is initially directed at implementing and testing SCTE-130 messaging, it could be used for any Web services messaging environment.

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