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Targeted Ads Evolve from Narrow- to Uni-cast

Communication Technology reports that addressable advertising is all about getting the right message to the right viewer at the right time. On that note, CableLabs hosted an event that focused on DPI certification and ad splicing within the addressable advertising arena, as well as enhanced TV.

BigBand Networks, OpenTV and Invidi were among the vendors who took part in a live addressable advertising demonstration at CableLabs. The demo used BigBand's Broadband Multimedia-Service Router (BMR), along with OpenTV's SpotOn and Invidi's Advatar solutions in the set-top boxes.

SpotOn and Advatar monitor viewership history and can collect third-party data such as zip codes, demographics or income data from third party companies. With narrowcast addressable advertising, an ad decision manager system will be able to tell cable operators and advertisers what ads were sent and how many times.

BigBand's Paul Delzio said that a deployed BMR needs a software upgrade and a new card, for additional processing power, for narrowcast addressable advertising. After a set-top box tells it which ads to use out of an inventory of ads on an ad server, the BMR inserts the selected ads into MPEG-2 video streams for delivery to the appropriately segmented viewer.

"The BMR is doing the ad insertion into the program, and that ad is the one that is aimed specifically at the set-top box and the profile that matches their interests," Delzio said. "So you're getting an ad that you're interested in while your neighbor down the street is getting a different ad even though you're watching the exact same program.

"There's only a small amount of software that gets downloaded into the set-top box, so the targeted advertising demonstration shows that even a small, independent cable operator might consider adding these functions over the next few years," said In-Stat analyst Gerry Kaufhold.

Delzio said an unnamed major operator is in an addressable advertising market trial with BigBand's BMR, and he expects the trial to broaden. Delzio predicted more trials next year with full-scale deployments around mid-year.

The narrowcast deployments are the precursors of unicast solutions in switched digital video environments by operators, which will provide a one-to-one relationship between viewers, cable MSOs and advertisers.

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