Tech Cos. Tout Ad Advances

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New York— With video-on-demand advertising still residing largely in its potential stage, technology providers continue to refine their products to help cable operators convert the platform’s promise into more significant revenue streams.

At a panel discussion here May 21 titled “True Stories: Early Indicators from the Real World,” part of the “On Target: The Future of TV Advertising” event from TheScreenPlays Conference series, executives from four technology providers pitched their approaches for building better on-demand advertising mousetraps.

“Today, there has not really been a well-demonstrated ability to monetize that vast majority of free content, even though content providers are spending over $1 billion a year in creating programming for VOD,” said Terri Swartz, SeaChange International’s director of advanced advertising. “And the free segment is the fastest growing segment of VOD.”

Swartz related the story of how Lawrence, Kan.-based Sunflower Broadband became the first distributor to offer dynamic ad insertion in VOD.

Sunflower last year deployed SeaChange’s Ad Pulse VOD — a technology facilitating last-minute ad insertion when a customer orders an on-demand 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 on-demand content.

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

Ian Maclean, vice president of etc.tv, said the Montreal-based 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 marketers with specific performance metrics. Most recently, the company inked a pact with Sony Pictures enabling long-form movie trailers.

Michael Kubin, executive vice president of Invidi Technologies Corp., called the Princeton, N.J.-based company’s approach “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.

Gary Savoy, solutions partner at BusinessEdge Solutions, described the East Brunswick, N.J., company’s technology as “three-screen integrated architecture,” which translates to urging service providers and carriers to target viewers across Internet, mobile and traditional television.

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