How to Do the EBIF-Canoe Two-Step

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Here’s something worth knowing, if you’re following the body of work that is interactive advertising on the TV: There’s a difference between being “EBIF-ready,” and being “Canoe-ready.”

Refresher: EBIF (Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format) is the technical name for sending a clickable thing within an ad or TV show, maybe to offer more information about a product (Canoe’s game), or maybe to participate in the outcome of the show, by clicking to vote someone gone.

The big thing about EBIF is its reach: Ultimately, to nearly 100% of the fielded base of digital cable boxes. This year, best guess, about 25 million U.S. homes will be outfitted to receive interactive-TV ads, maybe more, on roughly 40 million total TV screens (figuring 1.6 set-tops per home).

Step one involves getting “EBIF-ready.” If you’re a cable operator, this means picking a User Agent provider (there are seven or so), then taking a shot at bandwidth implications (it involves packet ID size and campaign breadth, per network). It’s also about gathering interactive session data into some kind of EBIF aggregation server.

Step two is the “Canoe-ready” part, which adds the spit and polish that is end-to-end testing between operators and program networks. “Canoe-ready” also introduces the use of a template, to get the trigger formatted for the screen, plus all mechanisms necessary to make sure fulfillment happens. Lastly, “Canoe-ready” means that trigger inserters get installed into the broadcast centers of national programmers, and that traffic schedules get built for interactive ads and shows.

That’s a somewhat breezy interpretation of the two-step that is EBIF and Canoe-readiness, guaranteed to trigger a giant eye-roll from any engineer tasked with making it work. (As with most things video engineering, there are about 30 other associated steps.)

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