Canoe To Lead VOD Ad Interop At CableLabs

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Canoe Ventures and CableLabs are trying to light a fire under vendors to get their systems for dynamic ad insertion in video-on-demand fully interoperable in an event scheduled for May 23-27.

CableLabs is hosting the advanced-advertising interop event at its Louisville, Colo., headquarters -- although some of the biggest suppliers in the space will be sitting it out.

Canoe, owned by the six largest U.S. cable operators, will show off new features of its Common Advanced Advertising System platform that support standards-based national dynamic ad-insertion (DAI) for programmer-owned inventory.

In the demo, Canoe will "emulate the real-life complexities of a multiple-MSO environment, illustrating the management of variances in business and operational logic for stewarding VOD DAI campaigns over a national cable footprint," according to Canoe chief technology officer Arthur Orduña.

Canoe wants to move to VOD DAI field trials as quickly as possible, with the aim of commercially launching the national platform in 2011.

According to an industry source, the event will include "focused use cases around dynamic ad insertion for pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll VOD and linear based on pre-defined profiles for SCTE-130 (2010) messaging and SaFI 2.1 constructs."

SaFI refers to the Stewardship and Fulfillment Interfaces, jointly created by CableLabs and Canoe, a suite of specifications that define different attributes for interactive, VOD and addressable advertising across multiple operators. The specs were first introduced in July 2009.

However, some major VOD and advertising technology suppliers won't be in the mix.

Vendors sitting out include SeaChange International, Motorola, OpenTV, Ericsson and VOD ad-insertion vendor BlackArrow. Several of the companies indicated the reason was mainly timing, as they are focused on the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's 2011 Cable Show, set for the week of June 13 in Chicago.

"We won't be attending the interop... [we're] really focusing our efforts on the Cable Show," said an executive at one VOD-technology firm.

Vendors that said they do plan to participate in the VOD advertising interop are Arris, Avail-TVN, Harris, Sigma Systems and This Technology.

CableLabs declined to comment.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, CableLabs hosted what it boasted was its biggest interop event to date for the Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format interactive TV specification.

In that event, held May 2 to 6, participants ran applications across a record 12 different EBIF user agents, according to the R&D consortium. The user agents reside in a set-top box and "listen" for EBIF triggers to graphically render apps on the screen and respond to user interactions.

The UAs in the interop were: Comcast legacy; Comcast OCAP; Time Warner Cable ODN; Cox Tahoe; FourthWall Media's Sara; i-Guide agent on Motorola; Passport (on Cisco) and OCAP agents; Zodiac Interactive's Sara and OCAP agents; Ignite Solutions; and CableLabs' user agent.

According to CableLabs, it was noteworthy that all 12 user agents were able to demonstrate full return path connectivity functioning across four cable plants CableLabs hosts in its laboratories.

Representatives from 19 companies participated in the ETV Interop: Alticast, Canoe Ventures, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Fourthwall Media, HSN, icueTV, Ignite Solutions, RCDb, Starz Entertainment, BCM (formerly BackChannel Media), Comcast, Cox Communications, S&T, S3 Group, Softel-USA, Tektronix, Time Warner Cable, Unisoft and Zodiac Interactive.

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