Advertising services

Cross MediaWorks Acquires BlackArrow

The media consolidation wave is now washing over the dynamic ad insertion (DAI) market.

Less than a week after DAI specialist This Technology LLC was scooped up by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), competitor BlackArrow Inc. is now being acquired by independent media services firm Cross MediaWorks . (See also Comcast Scoops Up 'This Technology'.)

The two companies have not released any financial details on the deal, but The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the transaction is being valued between $90 million and $120 million, including cash and stock. BlackArrow CEO Nick Troiano will take over as CEO of the new merged entity, while Cross MediaWorks CTO Stephanie Mitchko-Beale -- formerly of Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) -- will expand into a joint CTO/COO role across the company's multiple divisions.

BlackArrow is well established in the DAI space with major customers that include Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI), Bright House Networks , Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) and Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) However, while BlackArrow has successfully implemented dynamic ad insertion solutions across both set-tops and IP-based mobile devices for these companies, it hasn't made the leap from on-demand video to DAI across live, linear TV. (See TWC Taps BlackArrow for Multiscreen Ads.)

That's where the acquisition by Cross MediaWorks comes into play. Cadent Network, a subsidiary of Cross MediaWorks, offers a linear TV ad network. By combining Cadent's linear profile with BlackArrow's on-demand DAI business, Cross MediaWorks will now be able to offer a one-stop shop for advertisers on virtually all television platforms.

Cross MediaWorks also has a third part to its business; The Cross Agency (TCA), a full-service marketing firm.

"We think of the Cross Media companies -- BlackArrow, Cadent and TCA -- as three legs of a next-generation media services firm that includes creative, monetization and technology," says Troiano, "and it’s the underlying technology that unifies the platforms of data being used across all."

Want to know more about the pay-TV business? Check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.

Solving the cross-platform advertising challenge is top of mind for media companies today. After traditional TV ratings began plummeting last year, there is renewed interest (and investment) in tracking and measuring viewership no matter when, where or how it takes place. Cross MediaWorks doesn't believe it can be a panacea for TV's measurement dilemma, but Troiano does think it can help by offering a unified view of cross-platform ad delivery.

"Measurement is only as good as the technology that produces the information," says Troiano, "and from BlackArrow's perspective, what we've always done... we unify all of that reporting and measurement in a single consistent way across all the platforms that we touch."

BlackArrow will continue to operate as an independent unit under the umbrella of Cross MediaWorks, but the company says it will also collaborate with Cadent and TCA to optimize ad capabilities for customers.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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