One is silver and the other gold.

Arris' Jeff BrooksCable operators are by now very aware of the shifting landscape in content consumption and delivery technologies, as well as the potential changes this will drive in advertising on linear TV and IP-connected devices. Analysis points to a shift from traditional linear advertising to ads inserted into IP content streams targeted to specific zones or geographies. Simultaneously, advertisers are eager to embrace cross-platform advertising strategies. For operators and advertisers to achieve continued mutual success, they should keep what works – a known, trusted model of linear advertising to TVs – while augmenting their business with new revenue streams. Operators do not need to throw out the old to make room for the new. Remember the saying: “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold”? That certainly applies here.

With the requisite technologies and protocols in development, operators will soon be able to support profitable targeted dynamic advertising in subscription TV content on all devices. While advertisers support the concept of targeting, today’s broader “system” is simply not structured to support coordinated campaigns across multiple types of devices. The traditional linear, non-interactive advertising model is still firmly entrenched in the marketplace.

Protect the goose that lays the golden eggs
As more consumers access subscription TV content on connected devices, traditional TV advertising will expand into the IP realm, and advertisers will ultimately be able to take advantage of the personalized, contextual and location-based ad models that are tied to subscriber profiles. To provide a better system of measurement, Nielsen announced in March that it is developing a new service that will integrate media planning and measurement across television and the Internet. Cable television, which is already moving toward an IP-based infrastructure, is ideally positioned to address this opportunity and work with advertisers on cross-platform, integrated ad campaigns.

Moving to IP-based delivery of subscription content creates a foundation for running integrated campaigns. Several individual suppliers and organizations are already attempting to address the mediation of avails through campaign management systems. These mediation services and their compliance with CableLabs and SCTE unified standards are essential to streamlining ad delivery. Developing this multi-device TV advertising platform would greatly strengthen an MSO’s position in the national advertising landscape by moving the market to a far more efficient, less fragmented approach for driving revenues in the IP domain.

Operators are working with CableLabs, the SCTE and the vendor community to develop a standardized core ad placement framework. Known as Advanced Advertising 1.0, the framework consists of a broad range of specifications designed to support interactive advertising, VOD advertising within existing VOD platforms and advanced forms of addressable advertising. This group is also studying ways to support linear, VOD, interactive and other forms of advertising across an array of video delivery platforms, including tablets and mobile devices.

The SCTE 130 standard defines how ad decision servers (ADSs) can communicate with ad decision managers (ADMs) for dynamic, addressable and interactive ad insertions. This standards-based communications and insertion process can be applied to any stream, regardless of its destination, set-top or IP device. Data stored in the subscriber information system enables the delivery of ads based on different demographic groupings in linear and time-shifted programming environments. These improvements give advertisers the ability to reach consumers wherever and whenever they choose to consume video.

It remains to be seen whether, and how, operators will choose to extend existing linear insertion systems into the pure IP-connected device domain, and whether ops will choose to allow direct coordination of advanced advertising applications across the legacy set-top box and new IP-based cable TV service environments. But it is clear that the specifications embodied in SCTE 130 are applicable to enabling a unified approach to advanced advertising over TV and IP-based, multi-device services.

Times of disruption breed opportunity
As the market and technology evolve, operators that can leverage their existing linear cable advertising investment to enable new advertising models across multiple devices and formats are in a strong position to maximize their advertising revenues. With dynamic targeting and companion device techniques to reach an audience, operators can quickly extend existing, large linear advertising revenue streams. And operators can do so without disruption to current business processes and without the need for significant network upgrades.

By adding new cross-platform strategies to existing technology, operators can branch into new markets and offer state-of-the-art services to advertisers and content owners. From the disruption of new technology comes the silver lining of new advertising revenues.


Next month, Bob Scheffler, senior director of solutions architecture at Motorola Mobility, will write about the differences between network DVR and TV Everywhere services.