ScanScout Partners With Clearspring

Expanding the reach of its contextual in-video ad technology, ScanScout today is expected to announce a distribution deal with widget company Clearspring Technologies.

The partnership gives advertisers within the ScanScout network access to broad viral distribution across some 25 social platforms, including MySpace, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo.

"Our partnership enables ScanScout to provide advertisers an automated way to essentially 'widgetize' their video ads bringing broader reach and interest to their message," said Hooman Radfar, co-founder and chief executive officer of Clearspring.

Over the last two years, widgets have surged in popularity because their presence is controlled entirely by the users themselves--unlike pop-ups--and are generally used to complement social networking and blogging experiences.

Indeed, according to comScore, nearly 148 million U.S. consumers--or 81% of Web users--viewed widgets in November of last year. Widget ads, meanwhile, are expected to boost social network advertising by 70% to $1.6 billion in 2008, according to a recent projection by eMarketer.

"Marketers are looking for the user-initiated engagement provided by viral programs as they design their campaigns," said Waikit Lau, ScanScout's co-founder and chief executive officer. "Our association with Clearspring enables ScanScout to provide this opportunity."

Last week, ScanScout became the exclusive domestic provider of in-stream video ads for Web video network Broadband Enterprises. The deal expanded ScanScout's network five to seven times to roughly about a billion monthly streams in the U.S., according to Lau.

Despite drawing large and highly engaged audiences, social and video-sharing networks have had difficulty making the experiences relevant for marketers.

ScanScout has been trying to change that with Brand Protector, a proprietary technology that scans online video content to determine its appropriateness for a particular advertiser's brand. Its technology breaks up a video into tiny segments, which it lumps into ad categories, making sure the piece of content is both ad-friendly and relevant.

Backed by former AOL heavyweights Ted Leonsis, Steve Case and Miles Gilburne, the Washington-based Clearspring already serves a number of big clients, including CBS and the NBA.

Last summer, NBC Universal tapped Clearspring to increase the spread of its content throughout the Web. The deal allowed consumers to personalize widgets--carrying NBC news, entertainment, and sports--and post them on their own blogs, social networking profiles, Web sites, and even wikis.

Aiming to capitalize on the widget boom, Clearspring faces competition from Google's Gadget Ads program, and a widget ad network recently launched by Gigya.

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