24/7 Media Nabs iTV Deals, Beefs Up Broadband Package

Online ad network 24/7 Media Thursday inked deals with SeaChange International and Pace Micro Technologies to boost its capabilities to serve ads to interactive TV.

The New York-based firm, which is facing something of a cash crisis at the moment, apparently seems determined to continue its foray into emerging media areas, since iTV, of course, is still in its infancy.

But that fact, and the firm’s financial woes, seemingly haven’t dissuaded 24/7 Media’s broadband and professional services unit — which the firm received when it acquired IMAKE Software & Services Inc. — from integrating its products with Maynard, Mass.-based SeaChange’s system (which serves video-on-demand) and U.K.-based Pace’s set-top box.

The ad company is banking that by partnering with iTV content enablers and distribution partners, it will be able to offer increased ad opportunities for television and iTV content producers. The firm’s e.merge product suite already enables centralized management and distribution of media assets (like movies) through broadband Internet connections; real-time billing; and the ability to add commercial slots in front or back of video-on-demand streams. Now, those services will be available through iTV.

“With the acquisition of IMAKE by 24/7 Media earlier this year, 24/7 Media inherited an eight-year heritage in interactive TV, and we’re excited about these two partnerships which open up new opportunities for distributors of digital entertainment,” said 24/7 Media’s Mark Schaszberger, who heads the unit. “The overall power of e.merge joined with SeaChange’s exceptional media serving capabilities and Pace’s world-renowned set top boxes will provide unprecedented one-stop shopping for the digital delivery market.”

The move comes as 24/7 Media recently finished integrating its ad serving technology, 24/7 Connect, into e.merge — potentially enabling advertisers to send targeted TV spots to viewers.

Strategic partnership activity in the iTV space has been brisk, with most of the major online ad networks now in bed with firms like Pace and SeaChange, and also partnering with iTV content providers — including television/video production outfits like New York-based Cylo.

Several iTV firms, like New York’s Digital ADCO (a unit of direct marketing giant ADVO), are also partnering with content, technology and cable systems to expand the reach of their iTV platforms.

In addition to entering into an increasingly complex arena, 24/7 Media’s e.merge already competes with the digital asset management firms (which store and control digital media like video, photos and copy) used by many ad agencies and media firms — companies like eMotion and Artesia.

“In the increasingly complex world of broadband entertainment, distributors need a comprehensive solution to manage their assets and to deploy new broadband offerings. We are partnering with 24/7 Media to meet that need and offer new opportunities for revenue-generating services on a global scale,” said Yvette Gordon, vice president, interactive technologies, SeaChange International.

“As the viewing experience moves from a passive one to an active one, we now offer advertisers an opportunity to creatively capture this more engaged and more valuable audience with the power of our combined next generation tools,” said Pace spokeswoman Helen Kettleborough.

Specific details and financial aspects of the agreements were not disclosed by the firms. It also is not known at press time whether 24/7 Media will gain access to SeaChange and Pace’s iTV customers. Pace’s customers include Cable & Wireless Communications, which it helped roll out digital cable television in the U.K.

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