There doesn’t appear to be much surprise that Canoe Ventures is changing its focus mid-stream, shelving its interactive-TV ad business to concentrate on video on demand (VOD) ads. As a result, it’s closing its New York City office and laying off 120 employees.

Canoe will keep some 30 employees (mostly on the engineering level), with Denver-based CTO Joel Hassell serving as the new CEO. The rest of the Canoe senior management team is leaving, including CEO Kathy Timko, chief product officer Arthur Orduna, CMO Vicki Lins and CFO Neil Schaffer.

In his blog, Hassell noted the following:

“To make on-demand ad inventory as valuable as traditional broadcast (linear) or online inventory, the industry needs a standard, ubiquitous way to steward and monetize on-demand advertising. Canoe is committed to making this happen. Our new focus will be on giving programmers the ability to dynamically insert advertising into on-demand TV in a common way nationwide, by expanding our current technical platform and operations to facilitate advertising between many programmers and distributors.

“As we establish our on-demand business, we’ll make it easy for national programmers to work with us, and easy for our MSO partners to deliver relevant and timely ads. Once we establish the market for dynamic ad insertion within cable’s VOD platform, our vision is to offer more robust reporting and data insights, introduce addressable dynamic ad insertion, and support dynamic ad insertion across a wide array of devices both inside and outside the home.”

For some, Canoe was the textbook example of overpromising. Remember the giddiness surrounding Canoe at the 2008 Cable Show as cable prepared for a world full of interactive ad dollars? One source said Canoe never met budget, with advertisers reluctant (at least on a national scale) to pay out the extra money for iTV ads (MSOs will continue to sell iTV ad opportunities on their own).

“It’s just the end analysis of what the marketplace wanted most — monetizing VOD,” a Canoe spokesperson said, noting that the VOD focus eventually will support TV Everywhere. 

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