Tech Companies Tout On-Demand Advertising Advances

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New York -- At a panel discussion here titled True Stories: Early Indicators from the Real World, executives from technology providers pitched their individual business models for refining video-on-demand advertising.

The speakers were Terri Swartz, SeaChange International’s director of advanced advertising; Ian Maclean, vice president of Canada-based etc.tv, the On Demand Advertising Network; Michael Kubin, executive vice president of Invidi; and Gary Savoy, solutions partner at BusinessEdge Solutions.

Swartz told the story of Lawrence, Kan.-based Sunflower Broadband, the first operator to offer dynamic ad insertion in VOD.

The cable operator in 2006 deployed SeaChange’s Ad Pulse VOD -- a technology enabling last-minute ad insertion when a customer orders a VOD stream. Swartz said the experiment had been successful to date with local programming such as music, sports, home improvement, cooking and news, and the operator is now looking toward ad insertion into nationally originated VOD content.

Other available ad-insertion technologies include ads produced into VOD content and ad “stitching,” which is done at the VOD site. Swartz added that many cable operators and content providers weren’t on the same page yet when it came to recognizing advertisers’ need for better VOD ad insertion.

Maclean said his company’s pay-per-view model had been deployed in about 675,000 households so far. The technology gives customers the ability to access long-form product information linked to short-form ads, while also providing advertisers with specific performance metrics. Maclean said etc.tv is now working with General Motors, Ford Motor, Molson, Unilever, Royal Canadian Mint and, most recently (in a deal enabling long-form movie trailers) Sony Pictures, among others.

Kubin billed the Invidi approach as “the only addressable targeted-TV system.” Available via digital set-tops from Scientific Atlanta and Motorola, the Advatar technology allows companies to target viewers by gender, geography, ethnicity and age and income brackets.

Savoy described BusinessEdge’s technology as “three-screen integrated architecture,” which translates to urging service providers and carriers to target across Internet, mobile and traditional television.

“My team has the ability to work with carriers to do better evaluation, to do better road-mapping and also to meet with advertisers to really be able to pick the successful three-screen integrated process,” Savoy said.

The discussion, at the Marriott East Side Hotel here, was one in an all-day event, On Target: The Future of TV Advertising, part of The ScreenPlays Conference Series hosted by ScreenPlays Magazine.

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