Cox debuts EBIF platform with Canoe Ventures
A little more information trickled in on Cox Communications teaming up with Canoe Ventures for this week's request for information (RFI) campaign that launched on Tuesday in Tulsa, Okla.
While a Cox employee was quoted in a Tulsa World story  as saying the RFI campaign was a trial, a spokesman for Cox said it was the company's official launch of its EBIF (Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format) platform.
"The first Cox EBIF application is one from Canoe, which allows viewers to experience an enhanced level of real-time brand engagement with existing ads," Cox spokesman Todd Smith wrote in an email yesterday afternoon. "Using the remote control, viewers can request additional information about the product being advertised, including product samples."
Smith also wrote that additional markets were scheduled to launch later this year.
EBIF gives cable operators the ability to deploy interactive features and services on digital set-top boxes that are already in homes.
In Tulsa, the RFI-enabled ads are running during regularly scheduled commercial breaks on seven channels, and the only two ads scheduled for the entire cable system for Tuesday aired early in the morning on AMC.
In May of last year, Canoe Ventures announced it had separate partner agreements  with Comcast Networks, Discovery Communications, NBC Universal and Rainbow Media for RFI-based interactive advertising applications.
Canoe Ventures was formed in 2008 by the nation's six largest cable operators: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision and Bright House Networks.
The RFI overlay, which uses templates that are based on CableLabs' EBIF specification, allows customers to request more information, including coupons, product samples and additional information, during 30-second commercials.
An RFI campaign is created using a template that runs across all of Canoe's cable partners' systems, which allows the campaign to scale across multiple cable operators' footprints.
As for Canoe's RFI offering, a spokesman for Canoe Ventures said it does not provide breakouts on how many cable operator homes have the platform enabled, but Multichannel News reported last year that Comcast and Time Warner Cable were the first cable operators to deploy the interactive RFI-based ads from Canoe.
The Canoe Ventures spokesman did say RFI campaigns were currently running across 20 million digital cable households, most of which can be traced to one cable operator.
While Cox doesn't break out the number of digital homes that are being served up RFI-based ad in Tulsa, Comcast has been more forthcoming. Comcast CTO Tony Werner said in a recent CED feature that his company supports EBIF in 19 million set-top boxes .
"We're enthusiastic about what's coming out from Canoe this year in terms of RFI and other interactive and national ad products," Werner said.