Since June, Comcast has been inserting ads into its VOD programming in its approximately 500,000-sub Jacksonville, FL, system. The MSO is using BlackArrow’s Advanced Advertising System.
Initially, the advertisements will just be programmer’s ads for PBS KIDS Sprout and FEARnet. But if everything goes well, BlackArrow’s technology will be used for revenue-generating local and national ad buys.
BlackArrow’s President Nick Troiano said one of the stumbling blocks in VOD advertising has been timing. The advertiser has been required to buy inventory 45-90 days in advance. The BlackArrow system allows ads to be inserted dynamically.
“There is a whole slew of workflows that are necessary,” said Troiano. “We provide technology that shortens those lead times.”
One way BlackArrow shortens those times is by selling its product to programmers as well as operators, so there aren’t delays caused by synching separate ad softwares.
“The reality is you need ad insertion that has integrated with every headend, every back office, every video pump, so we can control and manage the playout,” said Troiano. Network topology is not the same in Philly, as in Boston. Ad insertion needs to be able to integrate and support across each market and aggregate.”
That jibes with Canoe’s conclusion that the cable environment is technically complicated for advanced advertising. Canoe pulled back on some optimistic time frames for addressable advertising in June. (For more, click here).
For VOD, BlackArrow’s product is comprised of a sales suite and a decision suite. The sales suite is a campaign management system used by the programmer to build a campaign. The decision suite is software customized for a cable company’s network, which identifies inventory that a programmer can sell against.
Four-year-old BlackArrow is privately held and backed by Cisco Systems, Comcast Interactive Capital and Intel Capital, among others.