ACTV Inks Deals with SeaChange, Microsoft, Qpass

Interactive TV ad technology firm Digital ADCO gained some sizable ground this week, broadening its offerings and reach by solidifying deals with a cable programming heavyweight, a powerful new player in the enhanced TV space, and an e-commerce firm.

On Tuesday, Digital ADCO, an advertising-focused subsidiary of interactive TV company ACTV, said it would integrate its interactive TV advertising service with SeaChange International’s ad insertion system.

The deal significantly expands the reach of the Digital ADCO’s ad technology. Maynard, Mass.-based SeaChange makes digital ad and programming insertion technology for cable channels, and handles about 85 percent of the U.S.’s local cable television advertising.

SeaChange will configure its products to accept ads from Digital ADCO’s SpotOn system — which allows for targeted, interactive TV advertising via set-top-box addressing. The deal will enable SeaChange’s cable network clients to take advantage of ACTV’s advertising capabilities without replacing their existing systems.

“SeaChange is clearly one of the industry leaders in ad insertion systems,” said Digital ADCO interim chief executive officer Kevin Liga. “We believe the combination of SpotOn with SeaChange’s existing capabilities will affect a dramatic change in the TV advertising marketplace.”

The Spot System’s interface enables operators to control geographically specified ad and program schedules. Coupled with SpotOn, cable operators using SeaChange’s technology will be able to deliver interactive TV ads to individual users, targeted via user preferences. Similarly to online ad firms, which typically track user preferences and target advertisements by using cookies, SpotOn targets ads using addressable set-top cable boxes.

“We firmly believe in enabling our customers to extend their ad sales programs with new capabilities and the SpotOn interactive ad service certainly promotes one of the most promising opportunities,” said James Kelso, vice president of advertising systems for SeaChange.

Earlier this week, ACTV inked a similar deal with Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft that will integrate ACTV’s interactive TV programming — and Digital ADCO’s SpotOn ad services — with the software giant’s highly-touted, up-and-coming interactive TV platform.

Microsoft said it has secured commitments from network operators around the globe to use Microsoft TV client and server software to enable enhanced TV services to millions of consumers.

“It is clear that Microsoft will be a major force in our industry and we expect this will be the beginning of a long-term relationship,” said ACTV executive vice president Dave Alworth. “Our platform-agnostic software technologies will play a significant role in delivering interactive television products that not only provide valuable and innovative new television experiences for consumers, but important, revenue-driving services for operators, content providers, advertisers and others in our industry.”

SpotOn received another boost this week when Digital ADCO struck a deal with Qpass. SpotOn now will include the Seattle-based firm’s e-commerce transaction services, capabilities that the companies say will allow advertisers to create “see-and-buy” interactive TV ads.

Incorporating Qpass’ Connected Commerce Platform and eWallet transaction services with SpotOn will enable Digital ADCO’s cable and TV network customers to set up a secure, interactive TV e-commerce transaction system. That system can also include targeted, personalized couponing using current-generation digital set-top boxes.

“At Qpass, we’re committed to enabling next-generation commerce on the interactive TV platform. ACTV’s SpotOn service offers a powerful, end-to-end system for delivering compelling and valuable advertising content in a digital world,” said Qpass CEO and co-founder Chase Franklin. “The synergy between the two is obvious.”

The pair’s combined systems “will make it as easy as possible for digital subscribers to buy goods and services directly from the ads they see on their TV,” Franklin said.

“Together, we are helping to move traditional TV advertising into the digital age, and are offering viewers an exciting, easy and secure way to shop and interact as they play an active role in this TV advertising revolution,” Liga said.

Qpass’s technology also means that interactive TV subscribers won’t need to re-enter their personal or credit card information for each transaction. The system securely stores subscriber data and payment-related information, delivers the relevant information directly into the merchant’s order processing system, and provides a digital receipt for future review by the subscriber.

Subscribers also will be able to access their personal information, account activity, and customer service options through their cable set-top box or the Internet, said the companies.

Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

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