The latest issue of BusinessWeek covers
Atlas On Demand,
the product that I've worked on for the last six months, in a piece called
TV Eyeballs Close-Up
Ever since the advent of commercial television, advertisers have
wondered exactly what they get for the megabucks they spend on
30-second spots. After all, the networks and cable companies offer only
a crude approximation of who is watching what. With such thin
information, advertisers can't target specific neighborhoods or
consumer tastes. As for converting ads directly to sales, well, that's
virtually impossible. Yet the Web, with its sophisticated per-click
metrics, does all of that billions of times a day. "The problem," says
Yankee Group analyst Aditya Kishore, "is that there's not enough math
in [the TV] business."
But aQuantive Inc. (AQNT ) aims to change that. ...
Despite the hoopla about advertisers moving online, the $70 billion
television ad market dwarfs the Web business 5 to 1. Says aQuantive CEO
Brian P. McAndrews, once an ABC executive: "TV is the largest medium
That's why aQuantive is taking baby steps. Starting in June, the
company's Atlas on Demand unit will begin testing technology that
measures video-on-demand (VOD) viewers for Charter Communications Inc.
(CHTR ) VOD's Web-like interactivity is what sold aQuantive. Besides,
the medium is taking off, with digital cable now in 25 million homes,
far ahead of TiVo's 4.4 million.
By gathering data from the same set-top boxes viewers use to order
shows and movies, Atlas on Demand plans to figure out how many people
watched a show and when, as well as how many watched the ads vs.
skipped them. From there, company executives hope to help advertisers
determine precisely how much attention their money buys. "You know
people watch Lost," says John Chandler, Atlas on Demand senior analyst.
"[Now] you'll know if they watch the ad."
Proponents of VOD hope the medium will become as interactive as the Web
itself, allowing viewers to get discount offers, enter contests, and
even buy stuff. Burger King is considering running ads offering
drive-through deals to late-night VOD viewers. Such ads could be priced
based on the number of leads or sales they generate rather than the
number of viewers they attract. "The intersection of video on demand
and interactive TV is the next frontier," says Time Warner Cable (TWX )
Executive Vice-President Peter C. Stern. "I look for it to emerge in
Despite myriad challenges, the cable guys have little choice but to
become more Web-like. Every other day, it seems, marks the launch of
yet another ad-supported online channel. Karl Siebrecht, Atlas' general
manager, bets Web video will become a major ad market sooner than VOD,
but he says on-demand TV eventually will be bigger. He and the other
Atlas folks don't care whether the next great video market is TV or the
Web. They plan to make money either way.
Read the full article here.
By the way, the Atlas On Demand team is hiring.
We have current and future openings for a dev manager and for senior developers.
There are other openings at Atlas in Seattle too: look at the
Atlas Careers page.
If you want to send résumés through me, email me at
WashTech has a piece on
frustrations with Microsoft's compensation system.
Sounds about right to me. I don't miss the horseshit of Microsoft's stack ranking one little bit.
I needed to add some declarative error checking to some XSLT templates
recently. Specifically, I wanted to throw an error if my selects yielded an
empty string, indicating that the input XML was wrong.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no easy way of doing this in XSLT, nor in
XslTransform. The approved way is to validate against an XSD schema,
but for various reasons, I didn't want to go to the hassle of creating one.
I found a partial solution using
xsl:message with the
terminate="yes" attribute. Under
following code throws an exception if the XPath expression is empty.
<xslmessage terminate="yes">Missing expression</xslmessage>
<xslvalue-of select="/some/xpath/expression" />
It doesn't do anything, however, in XMLSpy.
The downside, of course, is that you have to maintain the expression in two places,
and the template becomes littered with those annoying tests.