Wednesday 8 June 2011

c-ads, Oops See Ads!

Few days back in the month of April’11, I came across a press release of a Bangalore based organization on bringing interactivity to TV commercials.
This is how it works:
1.      While watching a TV show on a particular channel, a clickable advertisement (c-ad) will appear as a 100*100 pixel thumbnail or a hot spot at the bottom of the screen.

This is my assumption about the placement of c-ad based upon illustrative screenshots and the verbiage contained in different press releases.  However I believe that the placement of c-ad will be governed by parameters which enable high visibility of c-ad without obstructing or hampering the TV viewing experience.

2.       The c-ad along with the information on navigation button (to be pressed / clicked) lasts for 10 seconds on TV screen, during which the viewer has an option of interacting with the c-ad by clicking on the indicated navigation button.

3.       Upon clicking the specified navigation button on the Set Top Box (STB) remote, c-ad expands as an overlay on the TV screen atop the existing show being broadcast on a particular channel.

4.       The viewer is allowed to navigate the overlay using the STB remote navigation keys to learn more about the advertised product/service. The maximum limit for which the viewer can interact with the overlay is 05 minutes.

5.       The viewer can exit the advertisement anytime by clicking exit on the overlay.
And the available ad units are:
The available ad units are akin to the ones available in the internet world. The c-ads are available to the advertisers in the following sizes/units:
1.       Box (This looks like a thumbnail)
2.       Banner (This looks like a rectangle at the bottom of the TV screen)
3.       Full Screen (A very big thumbnail that will occupy the full TV screen)
The above ad units do not represent the size of the overlay. The size of the overlay equals the size of television screen.
This is how it is priced:
The pricing of c-ad is a blend of Television and Internet media pricing. The elements that come into play from internet media pricing are, size of the c-ad (box, banner or full screen), targeted geo-region (say only Bangalore) and impressions served (say 10 million). From a television media perspective, the elements are part of the day (time of the day), channel, etc.
The bullet items that determine an advertiser’s costing are:
1.       Number of ad impressions served.
2.       Number of overlay pages in the advertisement upon clicking the thumbnail.
3.       Interactive elements in the overlay – text, audio, or video.
4.       The TV channel on which the advertiser wants to place the interactive advertisement.
5.       The program on the selected channel on which the advertiser wants to place the interactive advertisement.
6.       Time of the day on which the advertisement will appear.
The limitations are:
1.       The technology being used is limited only to addressable cable systems, such as Digital Cable, Direct-to-Home (DTH) and IPTV.
2.       The organization behind this technology has so far tied up with only one DTH service provider and one television channel. Though they are in the process of ramping up alliances with other DTH providers and broadcasters.
3.       Measurement Metrics – Good news! The advertiser gets to know the inventory served. Bad news! The advertiser does not get to know the number of clicks and the engagement time of the viewer with the advertisement. The reason given on the company website is “broadcast medium is a one way channel. Now this is hard to believe! The company has tied up with a DTH operator and we know that DTH is a two way medium, otherwise how can you explain usage of active services that involve interactivity?
 Why strike alliances with the broadcaster and DTH service providers?
The content on which a c-ad is placed is owned by the broadcaster and the broadcaster owns the right to monetize the content. Therefore, the broadcaster should agree to place c-ads on its channel. However to reach to the viewers one needs to have relationship with the distributor. In this case the distributor is the DTH service provider.
Therefore the business eco-system of c-ads has, technology provider for c-ads, broadcaster, and the distributor. The monies that are collected from the advertiser are shared on the basis of business agreement among these three entities in the eco-system.
My observations:
1.       As per the company’s website, c-ads or any such interactive application developed by them is compliant with the maximum fielded base of STBs.
2.       Well, the company scores in allowing online tools to advertisers for creation and management of their interactive campaign. Though a demo is not available on the website, but I feel it’s a cool idea! (Something akin to what Google provides to its adwords clientele).
3.       Interactive TV is not new to the world. In developed nations the technology has existed for quite some time and is at a high maturity level. Standards such as EBIF (Enhanced Binary Interchange Format) and Tru2Way defined by CableLabs are driving the development of interactive apps in American markets. I’ll cover more on this in one of my blog posts.
4.       Since the company is not providing two way interactivity in the purest sense, I see very limited uptake of this offering.
5.       Prior to the introduction of this technology, Indian DTH operators have been pitching their available inventory such as Electronic Program Guide (EPG) skin, video ads on boot up or showcase screen etc. This technology opens another revenue stream for the DTH operators.
6.       The c-ads are currently not available during the so called commercial break, but will be available to click during the TV show. Since India is still not a single TV/person market, I doubt how successful the offering could be.
I can really keep going on and on, but I will keep it short. There are other considerations which this organization should watch for, like convincing broadcasters that c-ads doesn’t cannibalize their traditional revenue stream, working with media planners and broadcasters closely in terms of, say, scheduling a c-ad of Dominos Pizza when the actual ad of Dominos Pizza is being telecast, etc.
If the readers of this post have any questions, please leave your comments with your mail id. I’ll be glad to answer your questions.
As always, I’ll request the readers of this post, if you have time, please drop a line.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Himanshu,
    Thanks for posting this; it's very informative. I liked your posts on song licensing too - and for the same reason.



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