CableLabs, Canoe Ventures Unveil Advanced Advertising 1.0 Specification (NEW)

At the NCTA Cable Show in Washington, DC Monday, US cable industry research, development and standardization body, CableLabs, and Canoe Ventures--the company that is implementing Project Canoe, the US cable industry's initiative to create a national unified platform for interactive and addressable advertising (it is backed by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter, Cablevision and Bright House)-- announced a new draft reference architecture specification that is designed to further the development of advanced cable advertising products.

Dubbed Advanced Advertising 1.0, the new specification is comprised of a set of component specs and standards that CableLabs and Canoe Ventures say will individually allow cable operators to offer more innovative advertising, such as interactive TV ads, VOD advertising and advanced forms of addressable advertising. Brought together in the new Advanced Advertising 1.0 spec, the partners claim, these components will collectively allow MSO's to offer such advanced advertising products with consistent technologies, metrics and interfaces across a national footprint.

The new spec was developed, and will be maintained by, a CableLabs Working Group comprised of technical leads from the MSO's, Canoe Ventures and CableLabs itself, with what CableLabs and Canoe Ventures describe as "selective input" from the vendor community. "We are pleased to see this specification released," Canoe Ventures CTO, Arthur Orduna, said in a prepared statement. "In supporting the specifications, MSO's can present a unified package of capabilities, built upon their two-way infrastructure, which advertisers can more easily buy, use and measure. With this development, we're closer to achieving Canoe's goal of improved accountability and measurability that marketers expect from digital media." Added Don Dulchinos, SVP of advanced platforms at CableLabs: "Advanced Advertising 1.0 is the logical culmination of the work of MSO and vendor specialists who have been developing numerous enabling technologies for advanced advertising over the past several years. And some of this technology also can support individual MSO product offerings in the advertising space."

The components of the new Advanced Advertising 1.0 spec include:

1) Specifications: a) ETV, a CableLabs-developed specification that is designed to enable interactive TV applications to run on low-resource legacy set-top boxes. Based on the Enhanced Television Binary Interchange Format (EBIF), ETV is part of the OCAP specification, which means that advertising applications written for ETV can run on OCAP. b) VOD Metadata 2.0, a CableLabs-developed specification for descriptive data associated with a package of VOD content (note: the content could be, for example, a movie or a long-form commercial). This metadata is used in MSO and programmer VOD systems today, but, according to CableLabs and Project Canoe, will in the future help enable the delivery of ad products for the VOD space and the addition of greater addressability to different types of ads.

2) Interfaces (there are currently four interfaces for advanced advertising, targeting EBIF, that are in the early draft phase but that will be added to the Advanced Advertising 1.0 spec, CableLabs and Canoe Ventures say): a) Service Measurement Summary Interface (SMSI), which enables MSO's to export information about the execution of a campaign; b) Interactive Fulfilment Summary Interface (IAF), which provides a means for messaging generated by an interactive application to be exposed to an external entity; c) Interactive Application Messaging Platform (IAM), which provides an interface between interoperable applications (i.e. apps distributed to more than one MSO) and MSO systems, defining the common form of messages instantiated by interoperable apps and how MSO systems decode them; d) Campaign Information Package Interface (CIP), which provides information to the MSO's about the configuration of application messaging processing, such as identifiers relevant to the messages.

3) SCTE standards that the CableLabs Working Group has decided should be supported as part of Advanced Advertising 1.0: a) SCTE-35, which enables measurement, enhanced applications and ad placement on linear on-demand content (also includes related support from SCTE-30, -67 and -104); b) SCTE-130, which separates new addressable ad delivery systems from ad decision systems that allow for dynamic ad selection for interactive, linear and on-demand content.

Canoe Ventures and CableLabs have launched a Web site that contains additional information on the new Advanced Advertising 1.0 spec: The partners claim that there is already strong vendor support for key elements of Advanced Advertising 1.0--evidenced by an interoperability event held by CableLabs last November, in which 15 companies (Arris, BIAP, BlackArrow, Concurrent, Ensequence, Front Porch, Invidi, Microsoft, Motorola, OpenTV, Sigma Systems, Tandberg Television, This Technology, UniSoft and Visible World) demo'd interoperability among their products, based on the integration of the SCTE-130 standard with the ETV/EBIF standard.

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