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BlackArrow Jumps in Cable’s Canoe

Formalizing a working relationship that goes back about two years, Canoe, the MSO-backed advanced advertising firm, will announce today that it has licensed BlackArrow’s advertising campaign management system as part of a strategy to help Canoe’s national cable network partners accelerate their ability to insert ads dynamically into VOD content.

Financial terms of the multi-year deal weren’t disclosed, but the accord centers on BlackArrow Affiliate, a platform for programmers that manages dynamic ad insertion (DAI) in set-top-delivered VOD services.

The licensing deal aims to extend the Canoe DAI ecosystem to more national programmers and speed up deployments of VOD ad insertion. By way of the licensing agreement, Canoe and BlackArrow “are aligning our roadmaps so we can scale the marketplace…and connecting the ecosystem even quicker and streamline processes,” Canoe head of sales and marketing Chris Pizzurro said.

The BlackArrow Affiliate product is designed to sync up DAI elements such as advertising maps, advertising loads, inventory rights and targeting parameters between Canoe’s MSO and programming partners. While that technology connection aims to help both sides deploy more rapidly and bring “immediate stability” to Canoe’s DAI platform, Pizzurro stressed that the licensing deal with BlackArrow does not preclude other cable operators and programmers from utilizing campaign management systems from other vendors.

“There are minimum features and functionalities they need to meet, but we don’t dictate a specific technology or vendor,” Pizzurro said.

“We’re both heavily motivated to make this marketplace work,” added BlackArrow president Nick Troiano.

Canoe, backed by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems, Bright House and Charter Communications, supports DAI in about 28 million U.S. homes covering 26 of the top 30 designated market areas (DMAs), including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston. Those are largely coming way of deployments with Comcast and TWC, which also happen to be using BlackArrow’s campaign manager for DAI.

Canoe’s other MSO partners have not announced any specific DAI deployment plans, but Pizzurro said he “fully expects” Canoe’s cable operator footprint to expand this year.

BlackArrow’s platform, meanwhile, covers 30 million homes served by TWC, Comcast, Rogers Communications and still-unnamed partners. Troiano said he expects the vendor to expand that to more than 40 million homes by sometime in 2014. The vendor is also developing a system that can dynamically splice ads into live, linear TV feeds.

Canoe’s national programming partners are also expanding. Pizzurro said more than 45 networks are either running DAI campaigns on the Canoe platform now, or will be by the end of this week. Several NBU Universal cable properties, including FearNET, Bravo, Syfy, and USA Network, are on that list. Fox Networks is also certified for Comcast’s DAI platform, a Comcast spokesman confirmed.  

This list of Canoe network partners also references several other programming partners, including several channels from the Scripps Networks stable: Food Network, Great American Country, Cooking Channel, and DIY Network.  

Canoe’s DAI system is starting to achieve some size and scale about 15 months after the J.V. was significantly downsized, shut down its interactive TV efforts, and became exclusively focused on VOD advertising.

Canoe is keeping the heading of its bow fixed on set-top VOD, and is not looking to veer off into the world of TV Everywhere advertising – at least not yet.

“There are no new products to talk about at this point, but we are listening to our customers and examining this  [TV Everywhere] space and how we might be able to help them,” PIzzurro said.