SeaChange, MSOs Eye Ad Technology


SeaChange International Inc., already entrenched in the digital ad-insertion market, is now intent upon expanding orders for digital-into-digital insertion technology.

And although that and other future forms of advertising — like addressable, interactive and video-on-demand spots — won't become significant revenue streams for cable operators for years, SeaChange is also calling MSO attention to its technology for those applications.

Cab topic: 'TSI'

The ability to insert ads digitally into digital-tier streams — a.k.a. Digital Program Insertion or, as SeaChange dubs, it "Transport Streams Insertion" (TSI) — was scheduled to be a main topic at the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau's Sales Conference in Chicago on Sunday May 18.

So far, operators or interconnects in 20 top markets have deployed that equipment, including Adlink in Los Angeles, where vice president Rick Oster said, "It's in the infancy stage."

SeaChange will promote the availability of "smaller, lighter, cheaper" digital-streams technology at its CAB event booth, said vice president and general manager of broadband systems James Kelso.

The vendor will also talk up its Digital Transcoder software for third-quarter availability, although it's already being used by Time Warner Cable in Houston and San Antonio, Texas.

That software, an enhancement of the company's existing analog-insertion platforms, allows operators to reformat commercials, programs and movies for digital channels, as well as for VOD and HDTV.

MSOs continue to experiment with addressable, ITV and VOD advertising, as well as with digital-streams insertion, although they're tightlipped about any results.

"There's testing going on that I can't go into," said Comcast Ad Sales senior vice president Hank Oster. (AT&T Broadband had been testing addressable ads with clients like Kraft Foods and Ford Motor Co. for years before the Comcast acquisition.)


Kelso said that four major ad agencies and at least one automaker are heavily into addressable advertising, some of which will break "soon." He declined further comment.

Cox Communications Inc. has been testing VOD advertising in San Diego and intends to roll that out elsewhere, but vice president of ad sales Billy Farina didn't offer a timetable.

"That's not meaningful at this point in terms of dollars, but it is in learning the ability of a new product," said Farina.

Cox vice president of operations and engineering Guy McCormick said the MSO would be conducting tests pertaining to ITV advertising "later this year" and addressable advertising possibly this fall.

Asked if SeaChange might play a role in Cox's VOD plans, Kelso said only that his company is working with the MSO on VOD in hotels.