Canoe CTO: 'T-Commerce' Coming in 2011

Cable's advanced advertising joint venture is setting the stage for consumers to purchase products with the push of a button

September 15, 2010

3 Min Read
Canoe CTO: 'T-Commerce' Coming in 2011

NEW YORK -- Cable operators and technology vendors are stepping up their focus on "t-commerce," and will launch trials using cable's interactive platform to conduct product transactions in 2011, a top executive at Canoe Ventures LLC said Tuesday.

"It's not going to be at scale yet, but I would say 2011 is going to be a good year for testing, trialing, and probably seeing some big companies coming out of the e-commerce space and moving into the t-commerce space," Canoe CTO Arthur Orduna said here at an interactive advertising panel at the 24th annual National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) Conference. Canoe is backed by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Charter Communications Inc. , Cox Communications Inc. , and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC).

Orduna said announcements detailing cable industry efforts to expand into t-commerce would be made during the fourth quarter.

"We've been noticing a lot more activity in the t-commerce space. It's definitely on our roadmap," Orduna told Light Reading Cable after the panel session.

Earlier on the panel, Orduna said cable's Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) platform would enable t-commerce, allowing cable operators, programmers, and advertisers to create a "transactional screen" that a subscriber could navigate to buy a product. EBIF apps, by design, can run on cable's entire spectrum of digital set-tops.

"Whether it's direct response [advertising], or in the context of programming, or if it's improving the efficiencies of QVC and HSN… we can make the set-top box a transactional device," he added, noting that HSN is already using EBIF to enable t-commerce transactions on Comcast systems. (See HSN’s 'T-Commerce' App Gains Traction.)

T-commerce today, targeting tomorrow
While cable operators and technology vendors have touted the potential of offering t-commerce to subscribers for more than a decade, the technology has seen limited deployments. Last year, Cablevision began allowing subscribers to receive product samples from advertisers by pressing a button on their remotes, and the MSO has said that it would begin offering t-commerce sometime this year. (See Cablevision Eyes T-Commerce Launch in 2010.)

And late last year, t-commerce vendor iCueTV Inc. said that Buckeye CableSystem , MetroCast Cablevision , Sunflower Broadband (soon to be part of Knology Inc. (Nasdaq: KNOL)), and some other relatively small cable operators, would begin selling DVDs, CDs, and other products through an application it developed with the Comcast Media Center (CMC) . (See Cablevision Eyes T-Commerce Launch in 2010 and Knology Plucks Sunflower.)

Executives on the NAMIC panel focused much of the session on how long it will take for advertisers to target ads to individual households, set-tops, and subscribers.

"If we had our druthers, and our ad was for Pampers diapers, I would only have you see it if you have a baby in your house right now," Starcom MediaVest Group SVP and director of digital innovation Marla Skiko said.

While the panelists agreed that the technology exists today that could enable advertisers to target individual viewers, they said it could be several years before the industry focuses on hyper-targeted advertising.

Orduna and Ensequence Inc. president and CEO Peter Low said cable operators can add more value to their ad inventory by adding interactivity to national broadcast ads, and by inserting ads dynamically into video-on-demand (VoD) programming. (See Canoe Experiments With VoD Ads and Charter Tests Dynamic VOD Ads.)

"It's a reverse form of addressability, and a very consumer-friendly one," Orduna said regarding dynamic ad insertion, explaining how advertisers could target ads to viewers based on the content they order via VoD. "If I like BBC On Demand, you don't really need to know anything about me other than the fact that I like to watch BBC On Demand."

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

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