Is Addressable TV Advertising Finally Here?

Posted: March 31, 2009 in Emerging Media, iTV, Standards, The Marketing Industry, TV
Tags: , , ,

supertvAdjectives sound familiar?
Two years ago former Carat CEO David Verklin left the media agency to become CEO of Canoe Ventures, a company that has a sole focus of making television advertising addressable, engaging and interactive.

Canoe has been working with MSO’s around the country and Cable Labs , the non-profit research and development consortium of cable operators that is dedicated to pursuing new  technologies for  MSO’s, to establish what you may call the framework for the evolution of television advertising’s potential.

Benefits and functionality sound familiar?
The new framework provides format standards, increased availability and usage of metadata, measurement & reporting, and interoperability across different systems.

Convergence here we come, finally.

The Official Word
From the press release today: the new “Advanced Advertising 1.0 Specification” comprises a set of component specification and standards that, individually, allow cable companies to provide more innovative types of advanced ads, such as interactive advertising, Video on Demand advertising within existing VOD platforms, and advanced forms of addressable advertising. Taken together, the Advanced Advertising specification allows multi-system operators (MSOs) to offer such products with consistent technologies, metrics and interfaces across a national footprint. The Advanced Advertising 1.0 spec was developed and will be maintained by a CableLabs Working Group composed of MSO, Canoe and CableLabs technical leads, with selective input from the vendor community.

For the techie geeks like me, the current version of the spec includes the following component pieces:

  1. Specifications:
    1. ETV – A CableLabs specification for interactivity that can be implemented on millions of digital set-top boxes deployed by cable operators. ETV, based on the Enhanced Television Binary Interchange Format or “EBIF,” is part of the OCAP specification so advertising applications written for ETV can run on OCAP (OpenCable Applications Platform) specification, intended to enable developers of interactive television services and applications to design products so that they can run successfully on any cable television system in North America.
    2. VOD Metadata 2.0 – A CableLabs specification for descriptive data associated with a package of VOD content, whether a movie or a long-form advertisement. This metadata is used in MSO and programmer VOD systems today, but in the future will assist in the delivery of prospective ad products for the VOD space, or in adding greater addressability to different types of ads.
  2. Interfaces: There are currently four interfaces for advanced advertising, targeting EBIF, that are in the early draft phase but will be added to the 1.0 spec
    1. Service Measurement Summary Interface (SMSI) – enables MSOs to export information about the execution of a campaign.
    2. Interactive Fulfillment Summary Interface (IAF) – provides a means for messaging generated by an interactive application to be exposed to an external entity.
    3. Interactive Application Messaging Platform (IAM) – provides a critical interface between interoperable applications (apps distributed to more than one MSO) and MSO systems, defining the common form of messages instantiated by interoperable apps and how MSO systems decode them.
    4. Campaign Information Package Interface (CIP) – provides information to the MSOs on the configuration of application messaging processing, such as identifiers relevant to the messages.
  3. Standards: Relevant SCTE standards that the CableLabs Working Group has decided should be supported as part of the Advanced Advertising 1.0 spec
    1. SCTE 35 – enables measurement, enhanced applications and ad placement on linear and on-demand content – includes related support from SCTE 30 / 67 / 104.
    2. SCTE 130 – separates new addressable ad delivery systems from ad decision systems that allow for dynamic ad selection for interactive, linear and on-demand content.

What Does This All Mean?
Canoe has propelled the industry forward, and the first step of creating the standards and framework for a national roll-out was the biggest step. Within the next few weeks the first pilot programs will deliver custom creative to consumers in different geographic locations across a national campaign. The anticipation is to next move addressability to a household level.  Later this year we’ll see what has been a drab implementation of VOD pushed into the iTV promise that we have all been waiting for – where a consumer can interact directly with ads and click into more engaging experiences.

On top of all of this, the new framework also sets the stage for the eventuality of centralized ad delivery, and direct set-top box-level research. It’s a bright day for the TV industry.

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  1. Richard Kelley says:

    This is really exciting for the broadcast and cable industries, as well as for advertisers who are looking for better ways to reach our targets with the scale of television and the addressability of the internet. Thanks for sharing this. It’s now firmly on my radar.

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