CableLabs: VOD Advertising Technically Ready To Roll

CableLabs says systems for dynamically inserting ads into video-on-demand content are ready for primetime, although business agreements between programmers and cable operators are still needed to turn VOD advertising into a big-time business.

The R&D consortium touted the results of an interoperability event held Jan. 23-27 with seven participants, the latest in a string of interops hosted by CableLabs. The CableLabs Ad Lab test bed, among other things, integrated national and local advertising content and showed the delivery of viewer-targeted ads in VOD sessions.

Canoe Ventures, owned by the six biggest U.S. MSOs, demonstrated its national VOD Dynamic Ad Insertion platform as a "key benchmark" for participating suppliers. The six other participants at the event were: Avail-TVN, BlackArrow, Harris, Nagra/OpenTV, SeaChange International and This Technology. The interop participants contributed infrastructure such as ad decision managers (ADMs) and ad decision servers (ADS), and demonstrated interoperability over a variety of use cases for dynamic VOD ad insertion.

"This CableLabs event demonstrated that MSOs' systems, enabled by leading technology providers, are ready to handle national and local inventory splits for VOD advertising," Canoe chief product officer Arthur Orduña said in a statement provided by CableLabs. "This is a milestone along the path to delivering the appropriate operational support for nationally stewarded VOD advertising, which will enhance the value of the platform for programmers and advertisers alike."

Among the key achievements CableLabs called out from the event: ADM and ADS systems were able to identify ad placement opportunities within a VOD listing, draw from the inventory of advertising inventory, and dynamically place the most relevant ad in either a pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll location.

In addition, ads were dynamically placed -- using multiple ad decision servers and a decision router -- from national, regional or local inventories as defined by the placement opportunity information. The interop showed placement opportunity, content and subscriber information systems selecting the most relevant ad to be played out to a specific subscriber.

In another first, several of the vendors' combinations were integrated using the SCTE 130 profile, a series of interface and process definitions for supporting addressable advertising delivery, along with the CableLabs Document Profile Architecture, which is designed to streamline the testing and validation process for SCTE 130-compliant technologies by allowing developers to emulate multiplatform architectures.

"By coming together in the CableLabs setting, we continue to validate the SCTE 130 advertising interface standard with a particular focus on the VOD revenue opportunities which cable operators are poised to exploit," said Nagra-OpenTV senior vice president and general manager of advanced advertising Paul Woidke, who also is chairman of SCTE's DVS Working Group 5.

Rob Klippel, Comcast Spotlight's vice president of new products and operations, added that by having multiple participants "we were able to replicate an environment that would be valuable to a cable operator. This event demonstrated that national, regional and local advertising opportunities can be served from multiple sources and coexist within a single VOD session."