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Dynamic Ads Get Free Kick

Cable programmers already have
servers for their websites that make thousands
of daily decisions about which ads to
throw in front of Internet users.

And they’re not eager to set up separate systems
that basically do the same thing for dynamically
popping ads into linear television or
video-on-demand assets delivered to multiple
cable operators.

A free piece of translation software from This
Technology, a small developer of dynamic adinsertion
software, could potentially help content
owners out of this pickle.

The SpotLink software, which New York-based
This Technology is making freely available
starting this week under an open-source
license, connects broadband ad servers with
any compliant MSO system regardless of the
campaign management system the operator is
using. That could let programmers and their cable
affiliates splice targeted ads, based on different
criteria including viewer demographics,
into VOD and live TV.

The software supports the Society of Cable
Telecommunications Engineers’ SCTE
130 spec, which defines the way ad-insertion
commands are communicated among different
systems. On the
Internet side,
SpotLink works
with any system
conforming to the
Interactive Advertising
Video Advertising
Serving Template

“The dynamic-advertising insertion
has been pretty
slow to take off,”
This Technology CEO Jeff Sherwin said. “Now,
if you have an online ad server, suddenly you
have an SCTE 130-compliant server as well.”

Sherwin half-jokingly referred to SpotLink
as “our Valentine’s Day present to the industry.”

But his company isn’t exactly motivated by
altruism. Sherwin acknowledged that the hope
is that SpotLink will drive sales of This Technology’s
SpotBuilder placement opportunity information
service server and MetaMore content
information service server. The firm also is offering
consulting services to customize SpotLink and integrate it with existing ad servers.

Being able to communicate with an SCTE 130-based campaign management system — via an operator's ad manage — "is what was standing in the way of the general need for our core products," Sherwin said.

Canoe Ventures — the advertising technology
and services company formed by the six
biggest MSOs — is among the customers for
SpotBuilder. That software manages policies
for advanced advertising “avails” by letting inventory
owners control the type and quantity
of ad units to make available for any scenario.

SpotLink addresses part of the problem
for why dynamic ad insertion isn’t getting
traction, Current Analysis analyst Yoav
Schreiber said, but it’s unclear “how ready
the cable environment is to embrace open-source

The Java-based SpotLink server runs on
the Apache open-source software. On the
cable side, the software can talk to SCTE
130-enabled video servers or campaign-management systems
such as those from OpenTV, Ericsson
or BlackArrow through an ad-management server.