Comcast has issued no formal announcement, but the MSO appears to be expanding its dynamic video-on-demand (VOD) advertising capability beyond an initial trial and across its larger footprint. In October, Comcast and advanced advertising technology company BlackArrow said they were trialing dynamic VOD advertising in Comcast’s Jacksonville, FL, system.
That was six months ago. Momentum looks to be building.

“Use of the word ‘trial’ in the cable industry is new to me,” said Troiano. “I’d say it’s a deal, rolling across Comcast markets as we speak.”

The idea of combining VOD with targeted ads has been around for many years along with high expectations. “VOD Ads Ready To Take Off”—that was a MediaPostNews headline from August 30, 2002. Eight years later, that headline may fit today’s realities. The timing of the Comcast initiative, at any rate, looks fortuitous.

As it rolls out dynamic VOD advertising capability, Comcast has also joined with seven other operators and a group of movie studios to launch a $30 million marketing campaign,promoting VOD. The three-month ad campaign, developed in conjunction with the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM), is titled “The Video Store Just Moved In.”

At a time when more folks are watching online video, the CTAM campaign hopes to show consumers that VOD is more convenient than going out to a video store and more comfortable than watching streaming video at a computer.

Participants in the marketing campaign include Armstrong, Bend Broadband, Bright House Networks, Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Cox Communications, Insight Communications and Time Warner Cable, along with studio partners:  20th Century Fox, Focus Features, Lionsgate, Rogue, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Summit Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

The marketing push should give operators a boost in their pay-per-view revenue. And dynamic VOD advertising holds the promise of increased ad revenues as well.

Apart from Comcast, other operators are working on dynamic VOD advertising.In the first three months of 2010, Bresnan Communications conducted a dynamic VOD advertising trial in its Montana markets of Billings, Bozeman, Helena and Missoula. The operator integrated products from ARRIS, Avail-TVN and BlackArrow.

In the past, VOD programming could only accommodate static VOD ads that were baked into an asset. The advertiser had to provide the ad 45-90 days in advance of its play to give the programmer time to embed the ad asset into the program.

“Now, at Comcast and Bresnan, we have a clean asset,” said Troiano. The TV show is sent independent of creative assets and the ads are inserted at time of play.

“It’s akin to how things work on the Internet,” he said.

-Linda Hardesty

For the rest of this story, be sure to read CT’s upcoming May print issue.

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