BlackArrow, Ericsson Forge Multiscreen Advanced Ad Pact

Ericsson and BlackArrow have struck up a partnership that will enable Ericsson to deliver dynamic, targeted advertising across its IPTV product portfolio, including Mediaroom, the middleware platform it acquired from Microsoft in September.

For BlackArrow, an advanced ad company that has cut its teeth in the North American cable market, the agreement should help the San Jose-based vendor expand its business overseas and accelerate its pursuit of the IPTV service provider market.

Ericsson has history with advanced advertising, but a deeper multiscreen platform that could reach TVs as well as mobile devices had been missing from the company’s portfolio, which is why it opted to hook up with BlackArrow, explained Andrew Rowe, the head of multiscreen TV solutions, Americas, at Ericsson.

The deal with BlackArrow, a supplier of audience analytics and campaign management systems,  comes about two months after Ericsson closed its acquisition of Microsoft’s Mediaroom business, which includes IPTV systems and software that power video services in about 13 million homes and 24 million set-tops. Ericsson estimates that purchase, when combined with its existing IPTV business, gives it a combined market share of more than 25%. The Mediaroom deal brought to Ericsson marquee Mediaroom customers such as AT&T U-verse, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, TELUS Optik TV and Swisscom.

The companies said the integration between their systems has been completed, and they have already worked together to enable a yet-unnamed “Tier 1” pay-TV service provider in North America to deploy dynamic ad insertion capabilities for VOD.

BlackArrow president Nick Troiano said is company is connecting with Ericsson as operators look to build “holistic advanced advertising ecosystems” that can handle the convergence of targeted and addressable advertising across a wide array of screens. “Advanced advertising is a must-have now,” he said.

While BlackArrow fills a technology gap for Ericsson, the arrangement with Ericsson should help BlackArrow pursue new international markets and chase down business with IPTV service providers. “Ericsson’s presence across the globe is a huge advantage to us,” he said. “IPTV…hasn’t been a market we’ve been focused on.”

Troiano estimates that BlackArrow’s advanced ad products are deployed with operators serving about 32 million homes, and expects that total to  reach beyond 40 million in 2014. Ericsson, he said, will be part of that expansion. Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Rogers Communications are among BlackArrow’s announced customers.

Ericsson also represents the latest vendor connection for BlackArrow. In May, as part of its strategy to splice ads into live IP video streams, BlackArrow announced a pre-integrated ecosystem that ties in encoders, transcoders, packagers and encryption elements from four other vendors – Elemental Technologies, Envivio, RGB Networks and SeaWell Networks.