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Charter Breaks Into Interactive TV Ads With FourthWall

Charter Communications is jumping into the interactive TV advertising arena -- just as Canoe Ventures is exiting -- with plans to deploy FourthWall Media's Ad Widgets solutions to approximately 800,000 digital households in five markets.

Once the Ad Widgets system is deployed, Charter Media advertising customers will be able to deliver a variety of ITV-enhanced commercials, targeted based on demographics or geography. The FourthWall interactive TV advertising solution is built on CableLabs' Enhanced Binary Interchange Format and Stewardship and Fulfillment Interfaces standards.

"Interactive TV has proven to be an effective solution for advertisers and a good experience for customers," Charter Media president Jim Heneghan said in a statement. "It connects businesses with viewers in real time on their television."

Charter didn't specify timing for the rollout, or which markets it will deploy Ad Widgets.

In February, Canoe -- the advanced advertising firm owned by the six biggest U.S. cable operators -- announced it was shutting down its national interactive TV operations, citing lack of traction in the marketplace. Charter joins the chorus of other MSOs including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems that continue to see interactive TV as boosting the value of local and regional advertising.

Charter Media's ITV capabilities will include "addressable versioning," which will let advertisers deliver different variations of commercial overlays to specific customer segments during the same interactive spot on the same network; billboards, which are non-interactive overlays that can be targeted to different audience segments; and request for information overlays, which let viewers request a special offer via mail, email, phone call or mobile text message from an advertiser.

In addition, Charter will offer telescoping to VOD from an interactive overlay, and polling and trivia applications.

Separately, Charter has deployed FourthWall Media's EBIF agent for Cisco Systems set-tops on about 1.5 million boxes to date, while the MSO has activated 3.5 million set-tops with Itaas's EBIF user agent.