A Cable Show '09 Preview

Advanced advertising
Cable's hell-bent on preventing more dollars from leaking to the more targeted and measurable world of the Internet, and that resolve is now embodied in Canoe Ventures LLC , the big cross-MSO initiative.

Two projects are already underway. The first is the implementation of an "addressable" advertising campaign that targets ads based on demographic data. Then later this year, the consortium will get interactive with a nationwide campaign based on EBIF. (See Canoe Rows Toward Enhanced TV .)

Canoe officials will likely expand on those plans this week, but they'll also provide more detail about a significant (and expected) step taken on Monday -- the introduction of Advanced Advertising 1.0, a new draft reference architecture specification developed in tandem with CableLabs . (See Canoe, CableLabs Draft Ad Spec.)

That specification will provide technical guidance to a whole raft of vendors that are looking to hook into Canoe's technical ecosystem and interface with all MSOs that end up conforming to the new architecture.

But just because cable's new advanced advertising systems will be built on standards doesn't necessarily mean that some integration headaches aren't ahead for MSOs and vendors, as they attempt to glue together all the piece parts of the architecture and, essentially, replay the process that took place when cable started dipping its toes into PacketCable and VoIP almost a decade ago.

Waxing wireless
Despite stubbing their toes on the "Pivot" partnership with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), most major MSOs have since revamped their respective mobile strategies. Some, including Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), are rolling out WiFi, while others, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks , are reselling and bundling WiMax. Cox Communications Inc. , meanwhile, is striking out on its own with CDMA and Long-Term Evolution. Some MSOs, such as Comcast, for instance, may even decide to deploy more than one technology. (See Comcast Gives WiFi a Try .)

Although Cablevision has been very public about its WiFi rollout, its peers have been keeping their wireless deployment plans much closer to the vest, although Comcast did recently reveal that it expects to begin offering private-label WiMax services in Portland, Ore., later this year. (See WiMax Femtos: The Comcast Question and Comcast WiMaxes Portland.)

The MSOs may not have any formal wireless news to announce at this year's show, but there will be plenty of opportunities for some additional details to slip out. Our (ahem) razor-sharp intuition tells us that the highlight may come Friday when execs from Cox, TWC, and Cablevision sit down to discuss "Cable's Wide-Open Wireless Future."

New CableLabs chief?
With cable about to launch its biggest show of the year, the industry rumor mill is churning out indications that CableLabs could formally announce as early as this week the successor to president and CEO Dr. Richard Green, who intends to retire when his contract expires at the end of the year. (See CableLabs Chief Bows Out.)

CableLabs has been silent about the succession since last September, but people familiar with the conversations say the industry is looking for a high-profile "name" outside regular cable circles to replace Green, and not necessarily an obvious successor from the industry's engineering ranks.

Whoever it is will have some big shoes to fill. Green is the only person to have led CableLabs since its formation in 1988, serving in a role that requires equal parts technology and politics.

In the meantime, it looks as if Green is already making preparations for a peaceful, post-CableLabs existence. Last week, he joined the board of Jones/NCTI Inc. , a Colorado-based provider of cable and broadband industry training. (See Green Joins Jones/NCTI Board.)

Not everyone's waiting until the show opens its doors to make their latest announcements, though. Here's a sample of some of the pre-show news from the past few days:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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