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Two ways to monetize video downloads

KipTronic and PodBridge serve custom ads to downloadable videos.

This morning, the NewTeeVee Live conference had a heavy emphasis on monetizing video: that is, advertising. I talked to two companies here that have different takes on producing revenue from downloaded video, as opposed to streaming video, like you get on YouTube.

The challenge with downloads is that if the viewer of the file is offline when he or she views it, or if the file is watched on a player that doesn't phone home, there's no easy way to get statistics or analytics on how an traffic for ad (or content) is doing. That's not a problem with streaming content, where every bit that flashes in front of an eyeball can be tracked from the server.

I chatted first with Brian Steel, CEO of PodBridge. PodBridge inserts advertising in files when they are either downloaded or viewed. For content that ends up on disconnected devices, like iPods, PodBridge can even track when it's played.

PodBridge achieves this magic through a small resident application that users download and install. When I bristled at the need to install software to view content, Steel told me, "It's the bargain. If you want the content, you download the app." When you download, you're asked for some overview demographics, to which ads are targeted.

PodBridge will tell you things about your video downloads that you wouldn't know otherwise.

The big benefit--for advertisers--is that the download tracks what's played on the PC, and gives advertisers rich analytics on media consumption that would otherwise not be available.

The downside is the download. Although it's lightweight, installing software will put off some users (like me), and it limits the platforms that the media can be downloaded to. Fortunately, PodBridge can also be configured to work without the PC-resident software, in which case it will track download data only, not information on what's actually played.

KipTronic competes with PodBridge. It stitches an advertisement into a media file when it is downloaded, on the server. The advantage to this is that the file that the viewer gets is just ordinary media, and can be played just as easily on the viewer's devices. The downside is that once the file is downloaded, KipTronic can't tell the advertiser what's happened to it--if it's ever played, for example, or for how long.

KipTronic is also different because it's purely an ad insertion and analytics play; the company does not sell ads. PodBridge, by contrast, is also its own network, although customers can bring their own advertisers if they wish.

Both companies are addressing an important issue, but I don't think either has the downloadable ad business dialed in yet. KipTronic leaves too much data behind, but PodBridge locks content behind software.

See also: YuMe, PodTrac, Ad InFuse.