One of the sessions on tap for this week’s SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies is a look at bringing Internet-type advertising to TV screens.
The session will look at how advertising content can become more relevant through the use of addressable advertising, customer profiles and ads that are generated on demand. ICTV‘s Dan Gordon’s white paper, "Bringing Lean-Forward Television to the Lean-Back Screen," was selected as material for the session.
For ICTV, the solution is actionable video, which is designed to bring the best practices of Internet-based advertising technologies TV screens. ICTV’s ActiveVideo does this by assembling MPEG content streams, which can be MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 or other advanced video codecs, to TV programming via Web servers.
The ads can be telescoping if a viewer wishes to learn more about a product, or L-shaped banners around the TV screen, but the benefit for cable operators is that they only need to add a few small racks of ICTV equipment to their existing infrastructure to gain increased revenues.
"It’s pretty clear that what we’re seeing in advertising is very rapid growth in Internet-based advertising and a slowdown in linear broadcast advertising," said Ed Forman, ICTV’s COO and executive vice president. "There are attributes that you can’t get on the current infrastructure of cable. On the Internet, that page or playlist is being built for you because on a Web site the provider can pull the best ads at that moment."
With ActiveVideo, dynamic ad insertion engines on the Internet coordinate the various ad campaigns before delivering them to TV sets, and they’ll be able to do the same to cell phones and other devices at some point. In some cases, the streams can be sent in either multicast or unicast formats to the subscribers. Forman said the solution works with all digital set-top boxes, and he anticipates it will be looked at in labs by U.S. cable operators and a large IPTV operator in Hong Kong.
Instead of relying on set-top box hardware and software to run an application and render the user interface, ActiveVideo generates the user experience from servers in the network. As the streams are being delivered, the network-based processor uses standard Web protocols to consult a Web ad logic server. Based on a viewer’s preferences or demographics, the server selects the best ad for the viewer at that moment.
"In general, set-top box technologies are fragmented for ad campaigns," Gordon said. "Some of the other (vendor) approaches are more interruptive because they take programming and insert the ads in. All the different VOD solutions miss the whole realm of elements that are available from the Internet."
In addition to being able to tell the programmers how effective the ad campaigns are, Forman said Internet ads are cheaper to produce for programmers than mainstream TV ads.
The session "Forward Advertising to the Lean-Back Screen: Opportunities to Replicate Internet Advertising Success in Television" is slated for Thursday at 10:15 a.m. at the conference. – Mike Robuck