Activate, RCS, Engage Align to Offer Live Web Radio Ad Insertion

Webcasting technology company Activate this week took the wraps off of deals with offline radio technology company RCS and CMGI ad network, server and technology company Engage, revealing a system that integrates Web ads into streaming content from offline radio stations.

The system combines RCS’s broadcast automation, streaming media Webcasting, and Engage’s ad serving technologies to insert Internet-only ads into over-the-air advertising breaks, with targeting, optimization and impression-based reporting capabilities.

“Dynamic live ad insertion allows broadcasters and advertisers to fulfill the promise of one-to-one marketing,” said Activate founder and chief executive officer Jeff Schrock.

The companies are planning to market the system, which uses Microsoft‘s Windows Media rich-media platform, to offline radio stations, many of which use Activate for online streaming.

“Stations want a more compelling and profitable Web site, but they simply don’t have the time, attention, or contacts to orchestrate it to complete the picture,” says RCS president Philippe Generali. “We entered the ad insertion business knowing we could provide the critical vehicle broadcasters need.”

RCS’s technology “coupled with these services from Activate and Engage, makes this a reality at last.”

RCS’s in-studio system identifies an upcoming live commercial break and prepares Windows Media Player to insert an ad into the live, simultaneous Web broadcast. The Web audio spot is served in a pre-buffered format from Engage AdManager, which uses profiling in determining which ad to send.

“This comprehensive, dynamic live ad insertion solution represents a significant e-commerce opportunity for streamed content providers,” said Kevin Unangst, group product manager for the digital media division of Microsoft, which assisted in the system’s development.

“Engage’s ability to provide the most robust targeting and advertising management solutions for live audio applications creates a new opportunity for marketers to connect with consumers and deliver them an impression that moves beyond the banner,” says David Isenberg, Engage’s vice president of advanced media development.

“With our combined solution, marketers now have the ability to combine the impact of radio advertising with the response and measurement capabilities on the Internet.”

Though the companies are banking that Web radio’s popularity will continue as a popular content delivery medium, Schrock is optimistic.

“I believe that as broadband access and other technologies become more widely available, interest in Internet radio will rise, as will the medium’s penetration among all demographics,” he said.

The deal continues Engage’s efforts to boost its profile in offline and cross-media advertising. Earlier this month, the company acquired Mediabridge, which makes software for businesses to manage ad buys and campaigns across on- and offline media.

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