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Targeted Web-Like Ads Coming to Your TV

Communications Technology reports that one of the sessions at the SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies is a look at bringing Internet-style advertising to TV screens.

The session will look at how advertising content can become more relevant through the use of addressable advertising, customer profiles and targeted ads that are generated on demand. Dan Gordon of ICTV submitted a white paper, "Bringing Lean-Forward Television to the Lean-Back Screen," that was selected as material for the session.

For ICTV, the solution is actionable video, which is designed to bring the best practices of Internet-based advertising technologies to TV screens. ICTV's ActiveVideo does this by assembling MPEG content streams, which can be MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 or other advanced video codecs, into TV programming via Web servers.

The ads can be telescoping if a viewer wishes to learn more about a product, or L-shaped banners around the TV screen, but the benefit for cable operators is that they only need to add a few small racks of ICTV equipment to their existing infrastructure to gain increased revenues.

With ICTV ActiveVideo, dynamic ad insertion engines coordinate the various ad campaigns before delivering them to consumer TV sets, and apparently they'll be able to do the same for mobile phones and other devices at some point in the future.

In some cases, the streams can be sent in either multicast or unicast formats to the subscriber. The solution works with all digital set-top boxes. Instead of relying on set-top box hardware and software to run an application and render the user interface, ActiveVideo generates the user experience from servers in the network.

As the streams are being delivered, the network-based processor uses standard Web protocols to consult a Web ad logic server. Based on a viewer's preferences or demographics, the server selects the best ad for the viewer at that moment in time.

In addition to being able to tell the programmers how effective the targeted ad campaigns are, the Internet-style ads are typically cheaper to produce for marketers than mainstream broadcast TV ads.

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