Navic Aims EBIF Agent At Advanced Ads

Microsoft's Navic Networks subsidiary has developed a version of its set-top user agent -- geared to support advanced-advertising apps -- that is compatible with the CableLabs Enhanced Binary Interchange Format.

The EBIF client is integrated with Navic's HyperCast campaign management solution. The company claims HyperCast also works with other EBIF user agents, including those from BIAP -- which recently licensed the code to Time Warner Cable  -- and TVWorks.

Navic's standards-based client is currently in testing and will be available for field deployment by the end of the second quarter of 2009, said Matthew Emans, vice president of product management.

"As the standards have evolved, Navic has been interested in making sure that we provide a series of upgrades to our existing installed platform," he said.

EBIF is designed to be the lowest-common-denominator standard that could run on lower-powered set-top boxes already deployed. An EBIF client is a small piece of software that resides in a digital set-top box and "listens" for interactive commands contained in a programming stream.

Canoe Ventures, the six-MSO advanced-advertising company, is planning to introduce products that rely on the EBIF specification. To enable that, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and other operators expect to more broadly roll out EBIF support for their set-tops in 2009.

"There's a big initiative to get all the deployments in the field to be EBIF ready for Canoe, and we're doing our part," Navic senior vice president Tom Walsh said.

The Navic EBIF client is available for Motorola and Cisco/SA platforms. The code combines an EBIF presentation engine with features required to support advanced advertising, including audience measurement, targeting and ad splicing.

Specifically, Navic's EBIF solution will provide support for audience measurement, including linear tuner and DVR; click-stream collection; targeting profile management; and future support for DVR ad splicing.

Microsoft acquired Navic last June, in a deal said to be worth $230 million.