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U.S. Cable MSOs Ready to Deploy ITV Advertising

With close to 25 million cable digital set-top boxes (STBs) now enabled to deploy interactive features -- using enhanced binary interchange format (EBIF) technology -- U.S. cable operators will likely introduce more interactive advertising services in 2011, according to the latest market study by Heavy Reading.

"After years of empty talk and dashed promises, cable appears closer than ever to establishing a viable, widely deployed platform for ITV advertising and t-commerce," notes Craig Leddy, research analyst with Heavy Reading.

In 2011, consumers increasingly will see ads that enable them to use their TV remote to click for more information, get a coupon, request a sample, answer poll questions, or purchase products directly through their TV.

Deployment of ITV-capable set-tops is fast reaching the level that can support interactive ad initiatives, Leddy says.

Based upon the MSOs' tallies of EBIF-ready STBs, the industry is well on its way to reaching its 25 million goal, though there are still several steps before all of those boxes are running ITV apps.

Cable is forging ahead with ITV ad and t-commerce plans that could give ITV a much-need revenue injection so that apps of all kinds make their way to the TV screen.

Given the rising adoption of over-the-top (OTT) video services, I believe that the challenge for MSO marketing leadership will be to translate the ITV capabilities into a meaningful subscriber benefit. With increasing competition in the U.S. video entertainment market, offering new value-add capabilities for consumers is now a high priority.

Key findings from the market study include:

- The U.S. cable industry is making progress in its effort to create a national platform for ITV advertising.

- Four major programmers are now positioned to accept ITV ad orders by advertisers.

- Initial results of ITV ads and t-commerce are encouraging but must be proven on a mass scale.

- Challenges remain as proponents must win over more programmers, advertisers, and consumers.

- Current efforts precede more ITV activity through tru2way, IP, and cross-platform technology.

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