Cable's Canoe Heads for Scalable Waters
There's still no word on when its first interactive ad campaign will actually debut on TV screens, but Canoe Ventures LLC says it's on track to have an underlying advanced ad platform in place by year's end, giving its MSO backers, programmers, and advertising agencies a system that can scale to millions of cable subs.
Canoe, backed by 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 , is basing its efforts on the Canoe Advanced Advertising Platform (CAAP), an "advertising stewardship system" that links up disparate advanced ad and business systems of MSOs and programmers with ad agency ad-buying and billing systems.
It's CAAP -- which will support all of Canoe's products and aims to give programmers an easier way to buy, use, and measure their advanced ad campaigns on a national level -- that's expected to be ready for prime time by year's end and allow MSO partners to deliver iTV nationally "throughout next year," a company spokeswoman tells Cable Digital News via email.
Canoe has already put its first announced product, Community Addressable Messaging (CAM), on the back burner. Instead, it will start off with an interactive Request-for-Information (RFI) application based on Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) that can run on cable's entire universe of digital set-top boxes. (See Canoe Mothballs Targeted Ad Product , Canoe Rows Toward Enhanced TV , and Canoe Preps ITV Ad 'Template' .)
Once CAAP is in place, Canoe will then need its MSO members to step up and get EBIF deployed. Comcast COO and cable division president Steve Burke has already indicated that Canoe's MSO backers should have EBIF enabled in 25 million homes by the fourth quarter of 2009. (See Comcast Speeds Up '09 Wideband Goal .)
However, Cablevision is getting Optimum Select, its big interactive advertising initiative, off the ground without EBIF, instead starting off with technology developed in-house. And the MSO is noncommittal on when it might employ EBIF, too. (See Cablevision Gets Interactive.)
"Cablevision continues to be supportive of Canoe Venture initiatives," the company said in a statement. "At the same time, the Company is committed to the development of proprietary advanced/interactive products such as Optimum Select."
Until Cablevision gets with the program, a chunk of the coveted New York City DMA (designated market area) will be missing from Canoe's EBIF picture. And it's clear that Canoe will be best off if all its members are rowing in the same direction.
"To be successful we have to be at scale," Canoe CTO Arthur Orduña said Tuesday during a Multichannel News Webcast on the topic of advanced advertising. "For Canoe to succeed, EBIF must be prevalent."
But the big issue ahead of broad deployments next year is making sure the CAAP system works and that the same EBIF application embedded in national broadcast streams work as intended across millions of cable boxes.
"It's doable, but it's not easy," Orduña said, noting that Canoe has conducted some field trials and is gearing up for more "commercial level" tests.
He said EBIF "is proving itself out really well" at the local system level, but acknowledges that a national EBIF implementation remains in its early days. "The testing we're doing now is increasing my confidence, but we cannot let up."
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News
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