Penney Offers Thoughts on ITV Advertising From SBC


SBC Communications Inc. is holding most of the details for its upcoming fiber-delivered video service close to the vest, but targeted advertising could be an integral part of its future.

John Penney, the former ACTV Inc. and Home Box Office executive who last week was named executive director of strategy and advertising management for SBC’s Project Lightspeed, said the telco may use its two to three minutes per hour of local avails to sell spots to area advertisers.

He suggested, though, that SBC may also reserve the inventory for targeted and interactive ads.

“Everything is effectively addressable with this platform,” Penney said. “Because that’s the case, and because we’re the new kid on the block, we have to carefully and deliberately craft an advertising strategy that brings the best in advertisers’ desires to work in a more targeted environment.

“Everything on the plant is two-way,” he added. “There are fundamentally different ways of communicating with the end consumer via advertising. Some of that will have elements of advertising sales, and some others will be new things.”

Before joining SBC, Penney was vice president of business development at HBO. He earlier worked for ACTV Inc. as executive vice president of licensing and business development.

Penney gained experience on ITV and targeted advertising at ACTV, which was acquired by OpenTV Corp. in 2003.

ACTV’s SpotOn targeted-advertising product, which AT&T Broadband tested in 2001, allowed subscribers to request more information about products advertised in commercials with a click of a remote control. It also allowed advertisers to target individual subscribers based on demographic profiles.

Although SBC officials said they have not tested their video service outside of the laboratory, they maintained that the company is still on track to commercially deploy it by the end of 2005.