With the economy down, so too are advertising budgets, making advanced advertising even more enticing for cable operators seeking to offer more bang for the decreasing buck. Progress is being made on the MSO level and nationally with specifications and Canoe Ventures.

Last week, during a webcast sponsored by Communications Technology, Arthur Orduna, Canoe’s CTO, confirmed that Canoe had put its Community Addressable Messaging (CAM) 1.0 or zoned product on hold for "operational" reasons. But he announced that four interfaces, addressing the Enhanced Television Binary Interchange Format (EBIF), would be published later this summer.

(To register for the on-demand version of the webcast, click here. Ed note, 6/23/09 5:30 pm: The original version of this story bore the title, "Canoe to Publish Four Interfaces this Summer." However, CableLabs–not Canoe–is the industry organization that publishes these interfaces.)

The four interfaces are part of Advanced Advertising 1.0, a CableLabs and Canoe specification, which will provide common ground for advanced advertising initiatives across a national footprint.

"We have not only drafted these four (interfaces). These have been implemented by MSOs and partner technical vendors," Orduna said, meaning national and local level testing.

The interfaces dictate how an interactive ad campaign flows from the programmer through Canoe to the MSOs and then locally to the set-top box. They establish how information is communicated from Canoe to the MSO and from the MSO back to Canoe.

The first two national campaigns Canoe plans to go to market with at the end of the year are a request for information and voting applications. The interactive application fulfillment (IAF) interface will come into play.

"(IAF) enables the MSO to communicate back to Canoe with … aggregated vote tallies, or if it is a request for information, specific details required for us to pass on to the advertiser or secure fulfillment, house the information necessary to send a specific household a coupon," Orduna said.

An intricate web

Advanced Advertising 1.0 also calls for adherence to specifications like SCTE 130, among other things.

"SCTE 130’s components speak to (communication) between functional components. Canoe’s specs are for something that surrounds that as a specific application," said Paul Woidke, senior vice president and general manager, advanced advertising, OpenTV. The SCTE 130 standard speaks to how components interoperate, interface and communicate with one another.

"(However,) there is a lot of flexibility in the standard so that we can change the implementation while reusing the interfaces such that operators and vendors can differentiate and adapt to the various problems you (might have)," said Michael Adams, vice president systems architecture, Tandberg Television.

CableLabs announced on June 10 an interoperability event on addressable advertising during the first week of June. (For more, click here.) Woidke, who also chairs the SCTE Digital Video Subcommittee’s Working Group 5 on digital program insertion (DPI), underscored the value of such exercises during the webcast, which also included Sigma Systems – represented by Brian Cappellani, Sigma CTO and subscriber information services (SIS) expert.

Different levels

Canoe is trying to create a national bridge and inventory for cable operators that complements the work MSOs continue to do locally and regionally. "We are looking at ways to have a consistent approach where possible," said Davina Kent, director of strategic alliances, Comcast Spotlight.

Her company is trialing a household addressability product in Huntsville, AL, and Baltimore, as well as zone addressability across its footprint. The former matches third-party provider and subscriber data to deliver ads, while the latter uses census information.

Comcast Spotlight is also trialing interactive applications, using graphical overlays to telescope to longer form video or microsites, to allow the consumer to request information or to send reminders to watch or record programs.

"It is all about taking the consumer and more deeply engaging them in your brand and trying to make that TV spot do more for you," Kent said.

– Monta Monaco Hernon

The Daily

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