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Innovid Eyes Ad Tech Gains

Mari Silbey

What happens when the interactive TV and ad agency worlds collide? That's the question that Innovid, an ad technology company, is trying to answer as it seeks to build on its relationships in both worlds.

Innovid, which announced a partnership with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, has now been selected as a preferred partner by VivaKi , a subsidiary company of the multinational advertising and public relations firm Publicis Groupe. Innovid's solutions include ad development tools, an ad decision engine, and ad serving technology. The partnership with Cisco means that Innovid will soon be able to offer agency customers -- including VivaKi -- a way to target interactive ads to consumers on second-screen devices based on the content they're viewing on their main-screen television.

The quest to deliver advanced TV advertising never dies. Despite well over a decade of stutter steps, the combination of television's audience reach and the revenue potential of commercials that don't just bark at viewers but actually engage them means that the industry will never stop trying to make interactive and addressable TV advertising work.

Until now, technical and logistical challenges have largely kept advanced advertising efforts from being successful. But several factors are changing the industry landscape today. One is the integration of Internet-connected second-screen devices into the TV watching experience. Another is the development of technology that will increasingly give service providers the ability to know in real time what consumers are watching.

In Innovid's case, CEO Zvika Netter says his company is plugging its technology into a product that Cisco will launch later this year for collecting and analyzing TV viewing information. Netter says that Innovid's solution will take Cisco's real-time data and use relevant keywords to determine what ads to run on a viewer's second-screen device.

While plenty of other companies promote similar technology, part of Innovid's strength is that its solution is already getting heavily embedded with ad agency customers, including the global Goliath that is now Publicis Groupe after last year's merger with Omnicom. Those relationships mean that Innovid has the potential to accelerate adoption rates once Cisco rolls out its new product. (Cisco was not ready to discuss its specific product plans for this article, but a company representative did point to a blog post on its advanced advertising partners, and Cisco showed off some of its multiscreen capabilities at CES last month. See NBC Jumps on Cisco's Cloud.)

Even as the industry pushes forward with advertising on tablets, PCs, and smartphones, there are also efforts underway to target the main television screen with interactive ads directly. Netter told Light Reading that, "Ideally, and I think within a year or two, we'll be able to deliver directly into set-top boxes." But he also noted that however television evolves, i.e. whether companies are dealing with legacy set-tops or IPTV, ”What's important for us is to be there, ahead of the curve, as this change happens."

The Innovid platform is agnostic, and the company will continue working closely with agency and technology partners to build and target immersive ads to consumers wherever they are.

In addition to its new deal with Innovid, Cisco is also partnering with BlackArrow Inc. for dynamic ad insertion as it seeks to address shifts in TV ad delivery. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has also teamed up with BlackArrow, Invidi Technologies Corp. , and This Technology LLC at various times for targeted advertising trials and deployments. Most recently, Comcast signed a multi-year deal with This Technology for targeting ad delivery to IP devices in both linear and on-demand programming. (See Comcast Preps Ad Targeting Trial and MSOs Eye Ads for Multiscreen .)

Also on the interactive ad front, ActiveVideo is working with TV technology company BrightLine to offer advertisers a way to deliver web-like ads to TV screens by rendering them as video streams. With the help of that partnership, cosmetic company L'Oreal is already delivering interactive, app-like ads to Roku Inc. streaming media boxes, and it could extend its campaign to traditional set-tops as well. (See ActiveVideo Unveils Ad Distribution System .)

Putting all of the advertising pieces together, one thing is clear. The partnerships that will make next-generation advertising happen are forming now. Agencies, ad technology specialists, and TV tech vendors recognize that they all need each other to make the TV ad revolution happen. None of these companies can make advanced advertising successful on its own.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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User Rank: Blogger
2/18/2014 | 9:59:28 PM
Re: What comes next?
Which reminds me. We'll be staging a breakfast forum on advanced ad technologyt at the Cable Show on Tuesday April 29. Check our live events listings for details.  
User Rank: Blogger
2/5/2014 | 6:36:25 PM
What comes next?
It will be interesting to see what happens once the Cisco-Innovid partnership takes off. This year is shaping up to be a big one for advanced ad technology. Lots of deals in the works and tests taking place. Hope it all finally leads somewhere.  
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