Canoe Pushes ITV Ad Launch Into Spring


Canoe Ventures is still working to get its first commercial product into the water: After expecting to debut interactive ads before the end of 2009, the MSO-backed company now says it's on track to launch a request for information (RFI) product next spring.

Formed in 2008 by the six largest U.S. cable operators, Canoe last summer abandoned plans for a targeted-ad service, which was to let advertisers run different spots in a national campaign by overlaying them on existing local cable ad zones. Instead, CEO David Verklin said in June, Canoe would turn its focus to launching the interactive RFI product in the fourth quarter.

The company did launch an RFI product trial with a network partner in the fourth quarter, according to Canoe senior director of marketing communications Dana Runnells. She declined to name the network or provide other details of the test.

Canoe's initial interactive-advertising service uses CableLabs' Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) specification, which is designed to let virtually any digital cable set-top in the field run basic ITV applications.

At this point, Canoe is on track for a commercial launch in spring 2010 and “national deployment throughout the rest of the year as EBIF is deployed across the country,” Runnells said.

Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, has already deployed EBIF to 8 million households and has said it will hit 10 million by very early 2010.

It's not clear how widely EBIF is supported by the other Canoe members: Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems and Bright House Networks.

Cablevision, independent of Canoe, this fall launched Optimum Select, an interactive advertising service that runs on the MSO's proprietary ITV platform. According to industry sources, Cablevision will use Zodiac Interactive's EBIF client as part of supporting the Canoe initiative.