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Verklin to Helm Cable Ad Initiative?

Although specific details about the secretive "Project Canoe," the cross-MSO advanced ad effort, are coming in short supply these days, Ad Age reports today that it may have found its head oarsman: David Verklin.

Verklin is stepping down as CEO of Aegis Media Americas later this year, but is expected to land in cable's advanced advertising boat, the pub says. But Verklin would only say that he's exploring his options.

It's believed that at least six MSOs are providing financial backing to the project so far: Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Cox Communications Inc. , Charter Communications Inc. , and Bright House Networks . (See Who's Rowing 'Project Canoe'? )

CableLabs issued an RFI on the project last year. (See Cable's 'Canoe' RFI Paddles Toward Deadline.) A key goal of the initiative is to create a common, multi-vendor platform that enables advertisers to build addressable and interactive advertisements that can run on all types of cable environments, thus eliminating the need for them to create multiple versions of the same spot.

"If they [advertisers] have to do it a dozen different ways from Sunday for every cable system in the country, it [cable's ambitious plans for advanced advertising] won't happen," Paul Woidke, the SVP of technology at Comcast Spotlight, the advertising arm of Comcast, told Cable Digital News recently.

Woidke, however, would not confirm "Project Canoe" as the moniker of the initiative, but did verify that Comcast "is certainly part of a collaborative, intercompany project."

As that develops, Comcast is already making some moves on its own, the latest being an addressable ad trial in Baltimore that's expected to get underway in the third quarter. (See Comcast Bulks for Baltimore Ad Trial .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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