Canoe Chief Paddles Faster

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New York -- David Verklin, his hyper-enthusiasm apparently still unchecked, said Canoe Ventures is working with even more urgency to deliver its multi-operator advertising services given the grim economic climate.

In a peppy presentation here at the first Multichannel News/B&C OnScreen Media Summit last week, Canoe CEO Verklin said the 20-person outfit is shooting to launch its first product — to provide “zone addressability” — by the end of the first quarter of 2009. (Click here for more Summit coverage.)

As described previously by Canoe executives, zone addressability (also known as “creative versioning”) will let advertisers deliver different spots to any of the 2,700 ad zones nationwide across the six MSOs behind Canoe: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems and Bright House Networks. For example, a marketer would be able to pitch different ads to areas with different average household incomes, Verklin said.

But now that the U.S. economy is officially in a recession, the former ad agency executive was asked, isn’t this a terrible time to introduce new services that, on a national level, are untested?

“What my board has told me is I need to move faster,” Verklin said. He predicted direct marketers, such as Citibank, will be the first to jump on addressability.

Next from Canoe will be interactivity: Verklin believes the industry will be able to deliver interactive features to between 15 million and 20 million households by December 2009, with the first product likely to be a request for information (RFI) feature that allows viewers to push a button on their remote to, for example, have a brochure mailed to them.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable have pledged wide support for the Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format, an enabling interactive TV specification, on millions of digital set-tops in the near future.

That’s already a huge to-do list within a short time frame. “If hard work were sandpaper, I’d be 4-foot-2,” cracked Verklin. (He’s at least two heads taller than that.) “I’ve been working like a mule.”

Canoe’s three main challenges, Verklin said, are keeping the MSO partnership together, executing platform integration and marketing these new services to a “sedentary marketplace.”

Separately, Canoe has launched a teaser Web site, canoe-ventures.com, which flickers text, superimposed on a static-filled, black-and-white TV screen: “Measurable. Relevant. Engaging. Interactive. TV just upped its game. Stay tuned.”

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