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November 18, 2009

Cox VOD Ad Trial Uses Overlay Marking

Cox Media and NBC Universal announced a trial in the Cox Phoenix market to test dynamic ad insertion in on demand views of The Office and Monk. (For the original announcement, click here).

The Phoenix trial follows testing in Cox' Wichita, KS, system earlier this year where the company tested dynamic ad insertion with Cox-owned Travel Channel on demand content.

In Wichita, Cox did very simple ad insertion using the video server to test back-to-back splicing of soft files, said Terri Swartz, director of advertising technology at Cox Media. In Arizona, Cox is using SCTE 35 for overlay marking, which makes the trial much more complicated.

"Insertion marking versus overlay marking is a (complexity) factor of about a jillion," said Swartz, who explained that overlay marking looks similar to linear ad insertion where the content arrives with ads embedded. The ads are marked at the beginning and ends. The service provider receives a cue tone telling it when and where to overlay the ads.

Swartz described an overall VOD program as being composed of sequentially marked segments of the show and ads. "When we hit those marks, we know what to do; overlay what's embedded," she said.

Although there are lots of technical issues in overlay marking related to timing and synchronization, the Kansas trial was the first step

"First you have to prove you can splice with a VOD system and then overlay," said Swartz. "They're in progression."

-Linda Hardesty







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