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Mediacom Trips In Web Ad Test

Mediacom Communications last
month injected ads for its phone service into
some subscribers’ Web browsers — an event
that looks to have been a
mistake, no matter how
you slice it.

Last month, the operator
inadvertently inserted
the ads as part of a test of inbrowser
notification technology
from San Antonio,
Texas-based PerfTech, according
to a source familiar
with the project. Mediacom
has declined to comment.

Mediacom’s Web ad injection
was reported on Feb. 28 by DSLReports,
after that site’s members posted images of the
ads inserted into the otherwise ad-free homepages
of Google and Apple.

However, the Mediacom ad was simply a test
of the PerfTech system, not part of a plan by the
MSO to deliver ads to Web surfers, according to
the source with knowledge of the trial. The test
was suspended after the cable company realized
the error: “They were testing it to see if it
worked,” the source said.

Mediacom is investigating
the tool for potential
future uses, such as alerting
subscribers of late payments
or to notify them
that they’re approaching
monthly bandwidth-consumption
limits if the operator
adopts usage-based
billing, the source added.

PerfTech spokeswoman
Kathy Donzis, while declining
to comment on Mediacom’s test, said
in a statement: “Our platform lets an ISP send
a message without restricting subscribers’ access
to the Internet in any way, and is time-sensitive
and reliable. … PerfTech is categorically
not in the downstream at all; the requested
Web content streams directly from the source
server to the subscriber’s screen; it is not even
possible for PerfTech to touch, alter, modify or
even observe any downstream content.”

Since PerfTech was founded in 2001, the
company’s Internet-service provider customers
have delivered hundreds of millions of
messages, with opt-out rates generally below
9%, according to Donzis.

Cable operators using the system include
WideOpenWest, Oregon’s BendBroadband and
Ohio’s Buckeye CableSystem, according to the
vendor’s website.