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ATIS Ponders Targeted Ads for IPTV

Attention cable companies: The telcos are watching with interest as you come up with a standardized system of delivering targeted advertising.

Indeed, the latest batch of standards from the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) IPTV Interoperability Forum will make it easier for service providers to do multicasting, secure remote device management, and to check on the Quality of Experience (QoE) provided to customers. (See IIF Delivers New IPTV Standards.)

But it’s what's coming in 2010 that could overshadow these practical results, as the IIF tackles on-demand content and targeted advertising in Phase 2 of its standards process.

Content-on-demand standards are expected by the first quarter, and targeted advertising, which is following the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) ’s work on the cable side, are expected by the third quarter, says Dan O’Callaghan, principal member of the Technical Staff for Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and chair of ATIS’s IIF.

Targeted advertising was originally part of Phase 3 of the standards process, which is set for 2011, but was moved up to Phase 2 because of the high degree of interest, O’Callaghan says. ”Everybody is hot to trot to get work done on that." (See TelcoTV: Advertising's New Target.)

SCTE is developing targeted advertising standards for the cable industry, and the IIF’s plan is to track those developments and adapt them for IPTV. (See Cable Curious About IPTV Possibilities .)

”If cable is using a method and we have a method that is very like it, but works for IP, that does present to the industry one approach to targeted advertising,” says O’Callaghan.

That single approach would be more likely to attract advertisers that are seeking the largest possible audience and aren’t as likely to develop targeted ads if they have to support many different approaches and interfaces.

Practical matters
The standards announced today address significant practical concerns. IPTV providers have been concerned about QoE, but not really able to quantify it, O’Callaghan believes.

”Rather than trying to come up with definitive answer that this is how you do it, we came up instead with a way to consistently measure proposed QoE models so you could evaluate one model over another. This promotes innovation, because it allows manufacturers to propose new ways to measure this and explains how we put all these proposals on a level playing field.”

The IIF also added new layers of security to an older standard for remote management of IPTV services, to prevent hackers from accessing the services of other consumers, and spelled out the requirements for IP multicast, for services and network providers, including the home network and the IPTV Terminal Function for a line/broadcast TV service.

As with all IIF standards, O’Callaghan notes, these are focused on IPTV at the application layer, and are data-driven. One advantage to that approach, he feels, is that early IPTV movers, who deployed in advance of the standards, can convert to the standards approach as a migration, in stages, and not have to throw out their existing investments in a forklift upgrade.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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