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Visible World Targets Ads On Tru2way Set-Tops

Visible World has developed an addressable-advertising agent for set-tops and gateways based on CableLabs' Tru2way interactive spec, extending its reach beyond the native client for Cisco Systems' boxes.

Visible World's addressable-ad system lets cable operators and
advertisers use general demographic data, industry-specific data or
other proprietary data to deliver different messages to different sets
of TV households. The set-top agent manages the process of inserting the targeted ads into linear or DVR video.

"We think [Tru2way] will give us better scale and make it even easier for operators to launch this," Visible World chief technology officer Gerrit Niemeijer said.

Large cable operators -- including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications -- are deploying or plan to deploy Tru2way-enabled devices across their footprint. In addition, many next-generation home gateways will run Tru2way middleware, and it's "even more important for Visible World to be deployable on those systems," Niemeijer said.

The Tru2way agent is currently in labs testing at MSOs, and Visible World expects it go into live production early next year. The company has been actively working on Tru2way -- also referred to as the OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) -- for about six months, although "the discussions and the protocol definitions have been happening for many years before that with CableLabs and others," Niemeijer said.

Visible World developed the Tru2way agent with "real set-top boxes and real middleware," Niemeijer said, but he declined to identify which OCAP stack or set-tops Visible World used. Along with the client-side software, the vendor supplies headend equipment for signaling.

While Visible World previously developed a set-top client for the cable industry's lightweight Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) spec, Tru2way is a more powerful platform, Niemeijer said.

For example, using the Tru2way client, the Visible World system can replace ads in time-shifted mode, by swapping out ads in DVR recordings after a defined number of days. "Basically you'd like to reach as many eyeballs as possible," Niemeijer said.

Separately, Invidi Technologies earlier this year sued Visible World and Cablevision Systems, a Visible World customer, alleging they infringe a patent covering addressable TV advertising.

The patent in that suit, U.S. Patent No. 5,661,516, titled "System and Method for Selectively Distributing Commercial Messages over a Communications Network," covers household targeting and addressing advertisements to a subscriber terminal based on household data associated with the terminal. Last week, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office granted Invidi another patent covering addressable ads, U.S. Patent No. 8,065,703, "Reporting of User Equipment Selected Content Delivery," which describes consumer-premises equipment sending signals to headend systems about targeted content.

Visible World, founded in 2000, claims its advertising solutions reach consumers in approximately 80% of U.S. cable TV households. The company's investors include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Viacom and WPP Group.