Thinking Inside the Box

Giving the cable advertising business another shot in the arm, Visible World and FourthWall Media are teaming up to expand the reach of Visible World's addressable advertising platform to more cable set-top boxes and expand the reach of FourthWall to more MSO sales prospects. The two ad technology vendors said the pact, which was quietly announced just before the Cable Show last week, will enable Visible World to place its targeted advertising solutions on Motorola (now Arris), Cisco Systems and Pace digital set-tops deployed in millions of U.S. cable homes. That's because Fourth Wall will extend the capabilities of its EBIF-enabled interactive TV advertising platform in those boxes to support Visible World's products. Executives of the two companies said the deal will permit both of them to pursue more cable operators. FourthWall now has announced deployments with Charter Communications, BendBroadband and Buckeye CableSystem, with other deals pending. Meanwhile, Visible World has been rolling out its advanced addressable advertising software with Cablevision Systems and has installed its more basic zone-level advertising systems in most of the major U.S. MSOs. "We're looking at this as an opportunity to proliferate our platform to other MSOs," said Bill Feininger, SVP of media measurement for FourthWall and GM of its MassiveData unit. "It fits both of our business objectives." Why this matters
Besides boosting the individual fortunes of both Visible World and FourthWall, this deal matters because it will potentially create a much bigger base of cable set-tops that can support advanced advertising solutions. With these solutions, cable operators will be able to target commercials to smaller and smaller groups of households with similar viewing interests and buying habits. "You can start to really home in on which message you can serve to which subscribers," said Claudio Marcus, executive vice president of marketing and research for Visible World. For example, he noted, "now I don't have to send triple-play ads to subscribers that already have triple-play services." Canoe Ventures, the cable advertising consortium formed by several major U.S. MSOs, had been trying to create that base of addressable set-tops through the spread of EBIF and related technologies. But now, with Canoe all but out of business, ad tech firms are striving to develop the set-top base on their own. "The bottom line is we need a platform," Feininger said. "Whether it's perfect or not doesn't matter ... We need a consistent platform that supports a basic set of services." — Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading
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