Once again demonstrating the rapidly blurring lines between online video and TV on-demand, ad tech provider BlackArrow has announced that it will be powering dynamic ad insertion (DAI) in on demand content viewed on connected and mobile devices by Time Warner Cable subscribers. BlackArrow has already supporting DAI for TWC in traditional set-top box VOD and linear streams over IP.
BlackArrow's president, Nick Troiano, told me that the company unifies TWC's ad insertion work flow and reporting/analytics across all of its viewing platforms (note the exception is BlackArrow doesn't handle ad insertion on set-top box linear viewing). As a result, TWC and TV networks it distributes can use household-level data culled from cross-platform usage to better target specific audience segments wherever they choose to watch.
TWC's rollout will first target iOS and Android mobile devices, and then desktop, Samsung Smart TVs, Xbox and Roku. The TWC deal mirrors BlackArrow's first international deal, with Virgin Media, announced last December, in which the company will support both TV VOD and multi-screen ad insertion. Nick said other pay-TV operators are already singed up to use BlackArrow's technology for connected and mobile device ad insertion, with announcements pending.
Nick sees all of this as helping expedite advertising convergence and efficiencies. It also moves BlackArrow more into direct competition with ad insertion and decisioning providers like Adobe Primetime and FreeWheel, both of which are also BlackArrow partners, as well as This Technology. Just to convolute things a little further, Comcast of course acquired FreeWheel last year, but it is also an investor in BlackArrow via its Comcast Ventures arm.
Stepping back, the BlackArrow-TWC announcement further underscores how blurry the video ad tech business has become. Historically there was a pretty bright line between companies that supported ad insertion on traditional linear TV and those that did so for online streams (both on-demand and live). But as mobile and connected devices, along with a plethora of TV Everywhere content enable both linear and on-demand viewing beyond the living room, these two worlds are colliding.
For both content providers and advertisers, the ultimate goals are seamless workflows and buying efficiencies, with fully optimized measurement and targeting. The benefit to the viewer is more relevant ads. All of this is still a work in progress, but somewhere down the road it will be the norm.