Skipping generations of technologies with eyes on the end game, Canoe Ventures is working on the holy grail of advertising. Its objective is individualized ad-insertion as a national platform for cable operators across all services from video to Internet to wireless.

There is no doubt that the team at Canoe and their peers at the participating cable operators have worked out the details in what Canoe is calling the Common Advanced Advertising System (CAAS). The only catch is that the drawings were so detailed that they were difficult to read on the screen at last week’s NCTA Technical Papers session, "Sending the Right Message: Techniques and Technologies for Targeting Advertising."

Canoe Ventures CTO Arthur Orduna said the small type was a ploy to get everyone to read the paper to discover the details.

Given the business opportunity, reading the paper and associated standards may be closer to mandatory than optional for operators and relevant vendors. Complementing Canoe’s strategy were presentations from Dan Holden at Comcast Media Center and the work of Active Video Networks.

Ad skips, Internet cloud

Comcast Fellow and CMC Chief Scientist Holden proposed "trick-file-advertising" as a tactic of coping with reality: "Rather than seeking to defeat the customer’s desire to fast-forward through content … it is more effective to acknowledge that desire and present alternative content."

The idea is to leverage the users’ ad-skipping inputs to invoke the overlay or insertion of customized or targeted ad content that would better fit the users’ interests. If effective, it could take what is now a consumer complaint and turn it into an additional revenue opportunity.

Active Video Networks CTO John Callahan pointed out the challenge of developing applications on the limited resources of the installed base of set-top boxes to access Internet-based video content. As an alternative, he proposed a novel compromise approach of transforming the Web-based content and transcoding it for IP-based broadcast, switched digital broadcast or VOD distribution.

The challenge would be developing such a system that could work in real time to avoid the scaling and costs of ingesting what is essentially limitless content on the Internet. Although the desired video is effectively the same as that from a system like the AppleTV, Xbox, or other, it would help the consumer avoid buying additional electronics to get to the content.

Coming through the set-top would allow operators to offer the appearance of a broader base of content, without the content acquisition or storage costs. A great example of how to use this is the combination of such a system and the EBIF and DPI technologies to insert ads delivered and supplied to the cable operator over the Internet. Such a system could expand the market for ad sales for cable operators.

Similarly, another example Callahan suggested is an iTV application using iAds and short form content. Such a solution would, as Orduna said, be helpful to span the gap between the forwarding-looking vision of Canoe and the practical resource limitations of some installed set-tops.

– Victor Blake, contributing analyst

Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at

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