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ESPN360.com Plugs Interactive Online Ads

ESPN is introducing a new system to dynamically insert interactive video ads into the live sporting events carried on its broadband-sports network, ESPN360.com.

The proprietary technology, developed with the Disney Interactive Media Group, signals commercial breaks in the game and cues the appropriate advertisement. ESPN360.com will debut the dynamic-insertion technology with College Basketball's Championship Week, March 6-15, with live streams of at least 124 college basketball conference tournament games.

An advertiser's dynamic, clickable ad can be accompanied by a Web display ad that will be coordinated with the commercial in the game window.

"We're not manually placing ads in live games anymore, which is how it had been done," said Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN customer marketing and sales. While many advertisers are queued up for the new ad-insertion system, "we're just starting to get into the interactive piece" as far as executing those campaigns.
In the coming months, ESPN said, it will expand the available inventory for dynamic ad insertion to include the entire lineup on ESPN360.com.

ESPN360.com, which airs more than 3,000 live global sports events annually, is distributed through Internet service providers that pay fees to offer it at no cost to their broadband subscribers. The service is available to almost 25 million users through 45 ISPs nationwide, including AT&T, Verizon Communications, RCN, Insight Communications and Mediacom Communications.