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Black Arrow Targets Shifted Ads

Oct 31, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Add Black Arrow to the list of companies seeking a berth in the management of time-shifted advertising. This latest participant, born out of the next-generation advertising think tank known in television ad circles as DiMA Group, became the commercial extension of DiMA last year and is backed by venture firms Polaris Ventures, Mayfield and Intel.

Black Arrow has been developing a set of software tools for nonlinear ad management with the goal of a market test in the second quarter of next year, President and CEO Denny Wilkinson said. The company is still very much in the development stage and has said little publicly of its research and development. But now, as the CEO prepares to enter the conference speaking circuit next month at ad:tech in New York, he’s begun to talk to the players Black Arrow hopes to align for that all-important first test: cable operators, programmers and advertisers.

Black Arrow is fine-tuning software that will handle the traffic, billing, verification, reporting and monitoring of ads that live in the nonlinear world-ads that are served up in a time-shifted manner. Mr. Wilkinson likens Black Arrow to the Internet world’s Double Click, which handles ad management for most Internet ad buys.

“We have a set of tools to help manage advertising in an on-demand world-a suite of software tools to help manage the planning, buying and execution of television advertising in an on-demand world,” he said. “There are traffic systems that do that for linear. We are going to do that for nonlinear.”

In the TV space, Black Arrow is most akin to Atlas On Demand from Aquantive. But Atlas is ahead of the game because it has sewn up deals with VOD server makers SeaChange and C-Cor to build its technology into their equipment. Atlas plans next year to introduce its measurement tools that will help with media planning, buying and trafficking of VOD ads.

But what Black Arrow will do that’s different, Mr. Wilkinson said, is measure viewing and monitor whether ads were viewed during use of digital video recorders, when content and ads aren’t viewed live and are instead stored for possible later viewing.

Black Arrow is also different from companies such as Invidi and Visible World, whose products enable addressable advertising, which means ads can be swapped in and out of commercial pods to target specific households and neighborhoods, for instance. But those ads still reside in linear content. Black Arrow’s job will be to manage ads in nonlinear content.