AQuantive Starts On-Demand TV Ad Unit

NEW YORK AQuantive said it would expand on its Atlas ad-serving unit with a new division catering to the emerging market for video-on-demand advertising, banking on Internet ad technologies and methods spreading to other media.

Atlas On Demand aims to extend Internet ad-serving principles to dynamically insert ads into VOD programming. AQauntive hopes the service will address the complexities of the fragmented technology market for VOD advertising, allowing ad agencies to do media planning, buying and tracking from a single platform for campaigns running on multiple cable operators.

AQuantive said Scott Ferris, a former US West executive, would head the new unit, which will operate in its digital marketing technologies segment. It has also brought on Jay Schiller, a 15-year cable and telecom industry veteran, as vice president of business development.

Cable operators like Comcast are upgrading subscribers to add VOD features. According to Forrester Research, VOD subscribers will grow from 19 million in 2004 to 46 million in 2010. Operators are introducing ad-supported VOD programs, yet Forrester estimates just $15 million has been spent on VOD advertising so far.

Ferris said ad-supported VOD would increase, driven by consumer adoption of time-shifted media, allowing aQuantive to play a role in the development of TV’s future ad model by making it easily targeted, optimized and reported—like the Internet. “The dam is ready to break,” he said.

Ferris said Atlas On Demand is still about six months away from running campaigns for agencies. Eventually, Ferris predicted agencies and marketers would be able to create, measure and track their Internet, TV, wireless and other campaigns from a single platform.

Michael Bologna, director of emerging communications at WPP Group’s Mediaedge:cia, said Atlas On Demand has promised to make it easier for agencies to run VOD campaigns by giving them a management platform similar to the online world. “It’s a new application to a lot of us,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out the best model here and the way we can best utilize this for our brands.