Advancing the addressable and interactive advertising model hasn't exactly been fast-tracked. For years, the at times painfully slow progress of advanced advertising and its subsequent business models has been, well, painful.
A wary advertising community steeped in traditional media buying metrics, coupled with scaling and technology challenges, has slowed its advance.
But that was then.
EBIF-enabled homes (more than 20 million of them) and the ability to capture crucial consumer viewing behavior data, along with fertile new tablet and smartphone markets, are fundamentally changing the video ad world.
"The big thing is scale. You can reach customers with interactive advertising, and you know exactly how effective your ad is. You can pitch offers and test reactions, and when tablets get more prevalent, technologies will allow TV ads to communicate simultaneously with iPhones and TVs," said Kevin Hurst, vice president of marketing and product management at Ensequence.
That's already happening, reports a recent Nielsen study, which found that 70 percent of the 12,000 tablet and smartphone users surveyed cited watching TV as the most popular situation for using a tablet.
But the ad community can be a fickle bunch when it comes to eyeballs.
"Advertisers don't blindly shift money around. Now we have real research and real-time metrics, and we're doing several field trials this summer while working with CE manufacturers to build platforms," said Jeff Siegel, senior vice president of worldwide advertising for Rovi.
Those platforms are coming together, maintains Nick Troiano, president of BlackArrow, a player in the VOD advertising space, albeit with crucial components such as reporting, watermarking and fingerprinting, and data topping the to-do list.
"Data will enable powerful new ad models and has typically been locked up in set-top boxes and in homes. That's a hot topic. But now, advanced advertising is about consistency and multi-platform distribution."
And about closing the gap between innovative technologies and what advertisers really need.
"While there are great ideas with over-the-top and Web-based devices, a consistent subscriber relationship needs to be developed, with a manageable framework to present different opportunities like five-second commercials. And they must be measurable and authenticated," said Arthur Orduna, CTO of Canoe Ventures, the MSO-led venture charged with advancing interactive and addressable advertising models.
Once that happens, and Orduna believes it soon will, the ad community's pulse on advanced advertising will quicken.
"The next step is to incubate services to take advantage of the EBIF platform," Orduna said. "Some companies like FourthWall Media are using EBIF and moving out to three screens. Now the question is how do you start managing scale and increase quality of service over this new interactive platform. That's what Canoe is doing. We started slowly and deliberately, but now we're forcing more water through the faucet."
There's one overriding issue that could be the game-changer with advanced advertising, Orduna concludes. And that is entering the mainstream ad buying system.
"We've identified key systems and players in broadcast advertising buying and selling, which is an $80 billion industry and has nothing to do with interactive TV. We're partnering and integrating with all of those systems. Because if you're not in that mainstream, you're just a science project."
With the addition of tablets and smartphones to the advanced advertising equation, with a more attentive ad community prompted by greater economies of scale, and with innovative technologies allowing measurability and deeper customer relationships, look for a new era in advertising coming to your multiple screens soon.