In-Stream Mobile Video Ads Now Know Where You Are

Geo-targeted mobile ads could be the most invasive technology we’ve ever seen. But of course they could also be really cool and useful. Now, location-aware ads are invading your streaming mobile video for the first time.

mdialogmDialog, a mobile video startup, announced today at Ad:Tech Chicago it has adopted Apple’s new HTTP adaptive bitrate streaming for the iPhone. The HTTP streaming technology — which we’ve covered in depth — stitches together chunks of the same video encoded at different bitrates. The primary purpose is to deliver video that adjusts to changing network strength without stopping to buffer. But a side benefit is that you can slot something else in the stream without interruption, either. And that means: mobile advertising opportunities.

mDialog is one of the first to experiment on the new platform, and so today it’s announced that it can now do in-stream geo-targeted dynamic video ad insertion using Akamai and DoubleClick. That means mid-roll video ads that know where you are. So, if you happen to be watching a video in an mDialog app on your iPhone, that app can ask Google Maps where exactly you’re located, and deliver in the middle of your stream an ad that’s targeted down to a one-quarter mile area.

We had been skeptical of mDialog’s focus on the iPhone in the past, but the flip side is the startup pushes forward these new possibilities. mDialog CEO Greg Philpott said he can envision mid-roll geo-targeting being used for attendees of a concert or sporting event, who are instructed to watch something on their phone and then get a version of an ad just for that event. Today it’s not a massive use case, but it’s definitely a sign of where things are headed.

P.S. If you’re interested in mobile stuff, you should definitely come to our GigaOM Network Mobilize Conference next week in San Francisco.

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