Charter Gears Up for Interactive Ad Rollout

MSO appears to be getting its Canoe Ventures oar in the water following hookup with Concurrent and FourthWall Media

March 18, 2010

3 Min Read
Charter Gears Up for Interactive Ad Rollout

Charter Communications Inc. is ramping up its interactive advertising deployments using the aid and technology of two vendor partners: Concurrent Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: CCUR) and FourthWall Media Inc. (See Charter Names ITV Partners.)

The nation's fourth-largest incumbent cable MSO plans to launch interactive advertising products on systems reaching 4.9 million subscribers nationwide, which will allow customers to request more information from an advertiser. Charter will also use the interactive platform to deliver voting and polling apps.

Charter's "going to be rolling the interactive applications across all of their footprint on both flavors [Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)] of set-tops," says Concurrent vice president and general manager of media data and advertising solutions Paul Haddad.

Concurrent is acting as an end-to-end systems integrator, while FourthWall Media (formerly BIAP Inc.) is supplying the Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) user agent and EBIF app that will run on Cisco boxes, according to Haddad.

FourthWall is also supplying an EBIF event stream collection application, which tracks linear channel changes, interactive data, and DVR data running on both Motorola and Cisco platforms. Concurrent, meanwhile, is aggregating that data and collecting VoD data.

EBIF applications vendor TVWorks LLC -- a wholly owned Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) subsidiary -- is working with Charter to deliver EBIF applications to the Motorola set-tops in subscriber homes, Haddad says. [Ed. note: Navic Networks (now part of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)) and Zodiac Interactive are among those that also make EBIF user agents.]

Ready to start paddling with Canoe?
Charter is a member of the Canoe Ventures LLC advanced advertising consortium, which has previously announced plans to use EBIF to launch national RFI ad campaigns this spring, enabling viewers to obtain more information or product samples from advertisers via their remote controls. (See EBIF Gets an Upgrade and Cable Breaks Out the ITV Drano .)

Canoe's other cable MSO backers are Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cox Communications Inc. , Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), and Bright House Networks .

Charter didn't specify a launch date for its ITV tilt, but confirmed that it's on board with the broader Canoe initiative, which indicates a spring introduction. "EBIF is the agreed-upon standard among cable operators and is supported by Canoe, so Charter's platform will be consistent with Canoe's ITV roadmap," MSO spokeswoman Anita Lamont said via email.

Concurrent is teaming up with FourthWall to pitch their combined interactive advertising and data collection products to other cable MSOs, including Canoe members, Haddad says. The firms have also struck a deal with a cable operator in Japan, which he declined to name. (See Concurrent, FourthWall Connect on Ads.)

In addition to wins in Japan, "we are actively involved with several customers in North America and Europe to replicate similar deployments."

Comcast and other Canoe backers have touted the potential of interactive advertising for several years, but outside of the New York metropolitan area, where Cablevision has ramped up interactive advertising in the last year, the technology hasn't seen wide deployment. (See Cablevision's Interactive Ads Click With Subs and Cablevision Eyes T-Commerce Launch in 2010, and Cable Execs Defend Advanced Ad Efforts.)

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

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