Microsoft Targets IPTV Ads

Microsoft gave the first glimpse of its integrated advanced-advertising platform for Internet-protocol TV providers, which the company said will be ready for AT&T and other telco customers to roll out in 2009.

The software giant's Mediaroom Advertising Platform will provide the ability to deliver targeted, interactive TV ads to individual set-tops or other IP-based devices, and to track responses to those ads.

The advertising system runs on top of Microsoft's core IPTV platform, and comprises two main pieces: a campaign manager to manage and schedule ad inventory; and a decision-making engine that places ads based on business rules, such as an individual subscriber's demographic or behavioral information.

“Ad platforms are fairly silo'd today,” said Microsoft Mediaroom group marketing manager for advertising Terri Richardson. “This is a complete platform to insert ads into traditional linear TV, video-on-demand, interactive third-party applications, the guide and other operator-owned assets.”

The IPTV advertising system incorporates pieces from two recent Microsoft acquisitions, including aQuantive's Atlas AdManager and Atlas Media Console and Navic Networks' interactive TV and measurement technologies.

The cable industry also is accelerating its advanced-advertising efforts, primarily through Canoe Ventures, a service bureau backed by the six largest MSOs.

Richardson said the software will be ready to deploy sometime in 2009, with the timing of commercial launches depending on how “aggressive” individual operators choose to be.

Microsoft Mediaroom customers include AT&T, British Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, which together have connected more than 1.5 million TV subscriber homes to date.

Also last week Microsoft demonstrated an interactive TV application, developed for the BBC with Irish firm Emuse Technologies, as an example of the capabilities of the IPTV software.

The demo application lets viewers pull up the broadcaster's original news, sports and weather telecasts — live from the Internet — on the TV screen, and lets viewers recommend and share programs with friends.

The BBC application was built using Microsoft's Mediaroom Presentation Framework, released as beta in May. The software company expects customers to begin deploying the final version this year, with the first applications to go live next year.

The Presentation Framework “proof-of-concept” was designed to show how an ITV application could tap into existing Internet content, according to Ben Huang, director of product management for Microsoft Mediaroom.

“This lets you bring in Web elements and put it in the user interface so it's still a TV consumption experience,” he said.

Microsoft made the announcements at the IBC 2008 tradeshow in Amsterdam, which runs Sept. 12 to 16.