CED's Mike Robuck spoke with Paul Woidke, senior vice president and general manager of advanced advertising at Nagra-OpenTV, about the state of advertising in the cable industry.
CED: We're reaching the halfway point of the year. What is the status of advertising for cable operators?
Woidke: Cable operators are continuing to make strides in the development and deployment of advanced advertising technologies. The RFI capabilities that Canoe Ventures has launched demonstrate the willingness of operators and programmers to work more closely together to generate revenue streams with advertising "units" that have only existed, broadly, in television for the past year. Of course, the Canoe activities are supported by the pronounced effort of MSOs to broadly deploy EBIF as a common, ubiquitous link that allows a national footprint to be reached. And CableLabs' effort to continue to enhance the EBIF platform with ongoing revisions is a clear indication that interactivity will provide advertisers with a national audience.
CED: Is advertising ready to expand into VOD and addressable advertising? It seems like we've been on the cusp for several years now.
Woidke: While the momentum has built for interactivity, it is still nascent for addressability – that is true. Now the good news is that progress is being made. You can't look at the full footprint of addressable deployment at Cablevision without recognizing that linear addressability is an actionable product that can be deployed. It is difficult to do in the linear space, but I think that the capability and return that will be shown in the New York market is going to be significant.
Of course, in the VOD space, "addressable," as such, is defined by the notion of the on-demand content itself being selected by a viewer. The DAI (dynamic advertising insertion) issues have been resolved by operators and vendors working together, and there are no technological hurdles of any significance left for VOD addressable. The Advanced Advertising Media Project (AAMP) project is clearly taking the steps necessary to look at the business issues and use cases that will support this important development.
There is far more revenue upside for operators – in both linear and on-demand – as a result of addressable technologies than in any other single advanced advertising product. If AAMP's work in the on-demand space helps resolve some of the business cases, then we will see addressable technologies deploy that much more quickly.
CED: Is there an educational curve for SCTE 130 and CableLabs' SaFI for vendors and partner companies?
Woidke: Well, any time that you are pursuing deployments of new technologies and new products, there will always be a learning curve. I think that product vendors and operators alike would agree. But when we refer to the standards and specifications such as those that you mention, I think that their purpose and value needs to be understood differently. These do not represent "hurdles" that need to be leapt; in fact, these are tools that help map the course for developing (vendors) and deploying (operators) products that work together harmoniously, and with less effort than handcrafting every interface.
Both SCTE and CableLabs have remained attuned to the development process, and the standards and specifications continue to be refined and enhanced as the industry learns through the process.
CED: As chairman of Working Group 5 of the SCTE's Digital Video Subcommittee (DVS), can you tell us what the focus is this year and over the next few years in regard to advertising?
Woidke: Well, as I just mentioned, our ongoing work with SCTE 130 is one of the keys to advanced advertising environment and infrastructure. Likewise, even the oldest digital advertising standard, SCTE 35, has just recently undergone revision to keep it current with the industry's changes. While there will be continued efforts in some of the emerging areas such as 3-D, home networking, audio levels and IPTV technologies, for the moment, I think that we are looking at a time of consolidation of knowledge and experimentation within the existing framework rather than radical changes.
CED: In terms of advanced advertising, what is OpenTV demonstrating here at The Cable Show?
Woidke: I guess our theme for this year is "tablets and pads." We are showing the applicability of these handheld devices to advertising in both the viewer's hands and in the hands of the advertising sales department. Over in the CableNet area, we are partnering with This Technology to show how advertisers can synchronously display a television advertisement that is linked to an iPad application that leaves the viewer with links to specific information about the product just seen on TV. As statistics show that more and more TV viewing is accompanied by a tablet or cell phone device being at hand, this is a great opportunity for advertisers to provide a viewer with a quick way to get more info while not interrupting the program.
In our booth, we are showing how the advertising sales team of an operator can go into the field with a tablet device that links back to the business analytics database in their sales office. With our partner Decentrix, we show that the historical and trend information that is so critical to negotiations can be instantly available to a sales representative as they work with an agency or advertiser.
CED: How is the integration of OpenTV with Nagra going? What are the benefits to the two companies, cable operator customers and the cable industry as a whole?
Woidke: Nagra's broad product line of digital television services and its worldwide sales force are great opportunities benefiting the advanced advertising team. We are working on end-to-end solutions that can be tightly integrated with Nagra set-top box components, such as middleware and conditional access, and also tied with the service delivery platform (SDP) for a robust solution. We are delighted with the emerging advertising opportunities in many of the world's markets and have a great global team of sales people to help us reach the operators in those areas.