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Dynamic TV Ads To Get Free Kick

This Technology, a small developer of dynamic ad-insertion software, is releasing a free piece of translation software in the hopes of greasing the skids for programmers and MSOs to deliver targeted ads in video-on-demand and linear TV.

The problem New York-based This Technology is trying to solve: 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.

The SpotLink software, which 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 vendors' systems. On the Internet side, SpotLink works with any system conforming to the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Video Advertising Serving Template standard.

"The dynamic-advertising insertion market 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 manager -- "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 software."

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 and campaign-management systems such as those from OpenTV, Ericsson or BlackArrow through an ad-management server.

In 2009, This Technology licensed its MetaMore software to CableLabs, which has used the code as a reference implementation to demonstrate interoperability between systems that use the consortium's VOD Metadata 1.1 and 2.0 specifications.

This Technology is providing more info on SpotLink at www.thistech-hearts-cable.com.