CableLabs Scopes Out Interactive Advertising Project - Multichannel

CableLabs Scopes Out Interactive Advertising Project

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CableLabs has privately requested information from dozens of cable-technology vendors and others as the initial step of a project, code-named Canoe, to develop interactive-advertising standards.

The goal is to create a technology platform that will allow cable to increase advertising revenues and “put forth a united front” to marketers, according to a cable-industry executive familiar with the project. With the Canoe project, CableLabs is also reaching out to “communities outside of cable,” including ad agencies and major advertisers, the executive added.

CableLabs declined to comment on the proposed project.

For now the effort is very much in its infancy, and has no official name. CableLabs over the next few weeks will attempt to determine the scope for the interactive-advertising specifications but expects to build on existing specs such as the OpenCable Platform, Enhanced TV and video-on-demand metadata.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts announced the CableLabs initiative Monday at the Merrill Lynch Media and Entertainment conference in Marina Del Ray, Calif., but he provided few details on the proposed ITV advertising standards. 

The timing of the CableLabs’ standards-setting process for Canoe is unclear, but Roberts suggested the first rollout of the interactive advertising platform could take place in 2008.

The “Canoe” code name for the project was first reported by Cable Digital News

To date, cable’s interactive-advertising efforts have been characterized primarily as tests, and limited to single markets. Charter Communications, for example, last fall initiated a trial in St. Louis to insert playlisted video ads into two free on-demand channels. 

Time Warner Cable has experimented with on-screen graphic overlays that prompt viewers to click on their remotes to see additional information.

As he has previously, Roberts in his presentation Monday compared cable’s vision for interactive advertising to Google’s Internet search business, in being able to match advertising messages with the relevant audience across an aggregated set of content.

“We can go to the broadcasters and say, ‘Would you like to use this interactive platform?’ We can go to our competitors if we choose and offer the same,” he said.

Infosys senior vice president Subhash Dhar, who runs the outsourcing and consulting firm’s $600 million service provider unit, said CableLab’s interactive-advertising undertaking is an attempt to emulate an Internet-advertising model to be able to report ad click-throughs in fine detail.

“Today, you just have broadcast-ad models,” he said. “If cable follows through on the interactive advertising model, it would really let them capture everything you’re watching on TV.”