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Canoe Ventures Paddles Ahead

Jeff Baumgartner
10/3/2008
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Canoe Ventures LLC is set to take its first addressable advertising product, dubbed "creative versioning," to market by the first quarter of 2009, according to the latest edition of Light Reading's Cable Industry Insider: "Telcos Beware: Cable Takes Aim at Targeted Advertising." (See Cable Aims to Revolutionize TV Advertising, Introducing 'Canoe Ventures', and Verklin Picked as Cable's Canoe Captain.)

The MSOs behind the Canoe Ventures joint venture -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Charter Communications Inc. , Cox Communications Inc. , and Bright House Networks -- represent a base of about 53 million subscribers, and that should help the JV's success chances.

"Advertising always needs scale," says Seth Haberman, CEO of Visible World , one of a dozen vendors with advanced advertising ambitions profiled in the report. "No matter how good the technology is, if you don’t have scale it'll never be successful."

But, the Cable Insider adds, having the backing of several major MSOs does leave Canoe open to clashes brought on by different cultures and business practices.

Canoe's captains are under some significant pressure to make it work. They need to slow the tide of ad dollars flowing to the Internet, which claimed $21.2 billion in ad–related revenues in 2007, and to inject some much-needed life into cable's own interactive advertising initiatives. (See Plugging the Ad Drain.)

In addition to ensuring ads are sent to their target demographics, cable MSOs are also rolling out ads with interactive elements, enabling consumers to get more info about a product or make direct purchases right from their TV screens.

The cross-MSO effort has likewise attracted a raft of advanced ad specialists, both big and small, that play different roles in the technical ecosystem, but are all vying for business from Canoe's big backers. That includes smaller players such as ActiveVideo and BlackArrow Inc. , mid-sized companies like OpenTV Corp. (Nasdaq: OPTV), and monsters such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT).

Although it's unlikely that MSOs will pick one supplier to do it all, the report suggests that only "a chosen few" will win the opportunity to get Canoe Ventures out of dry dock and heading downstream.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News




The report, Telcos Beware: Cable Takes Aim at Targeted Advertising, is available as part of an annual subscription (6 bimonthly issues) to Light Reading's Cable Industry Insider, priced at $1,295. Individual reports are available for $900. For more information, or to subscribe, please visit: www.lightreading.com/cable.

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