Video ad technology provider BlackArrow has announced Virgin Media as its first European customer, signaling a broader international expansion starting in 2015. BlackArrow will be powering dynamic ad insertion on Virgin's VOD TV platform and its Virgin Anywhere multi-screen service. Virgin, which was acquired by Liberty Global last year for approximately $16 billion, has deployed its digital TV service to 5.3 million screens in the UK.
As Nick Troiano, BlackArrow's president, explained to me, under the deal, BlackArrow will enable Virgin to build privacy-compliant household viewing profiles across various screens. The profiles can then be shared with TV networks Virgin carries, which can in turn be married with 3rd-party data sets in order to drive customized, addressable advertising. This is comparable to what BlackArrow has already done with U.S. operators like Comcast and Time Warner Cable to enhance their own ad sales.
Enhanced advertising capitalizes on traditional TV sales metrics along with frequency capping, real-time performance metrics and advanced audience segmentation.
The deal's broader goal is to better monetize viewers' shifting content consumption. According to a recent Virgin study, 43% of viewers are now watching primarily recorded or on-demand TV and 34% are using second screens while doing so. Nick noted that for BlackArrow, which has traditionally been focused on TV-based VOD ad deployments, the Virgin deal underscores how BlackArrow can unify ad experiences across digital devices as well. This too, will be a key focus of expansion in 2015.