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Sep 13, 2008

Microsoft: Forget Canoe, We Have Targeted TV Ads Figured Out

Microsoft: Forget Canoe, We Have Targeted TV Ads Figured Out

Microsoft (MSFT) is showing off its new targeted ad platform for Internet TV providers, just in time for AT&T's (T) U-Verse in 2009: The system is called Mediaroom Advertising Platform, and as Multichannel News reports, it includes pieces of two recent acquisitions: aQuantive's Atlas AdManager and Navic Networks' interactive TV technologies.

Multichannel News: 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.

'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," said Terri Richardson, Microsoft Mediaroom group marketing manager for advertising.

The first adopters of Microsoft's TV ad platform are AT&T (T), British Telecom, and Deutsche Telekom (DT). Richardson says the system will be ready for deployment in 2009.

How does this compare to Canoe Ventures, the joint venture of six U.S. cable operators? Canoe has a staffa cable channel, and a built-in customer base once they get a system up and running. As yet, though, it has no technology.

Microsoft Improves Mediaroom IPTV

Microsoft Mediaroom

Microsoft announced that it has improved its Mediaroom IPTV service to bring more show producers and IPTV networks to its platform.

According to Microsoft, its plan for increasing the value of Mediaroom IPTV contains three parts: increase advertising opportunities, make it easier for IPTV networks to port shows to the platform, and make IPTV more interactive.

The improved Mediaroom platform will let service providers using the service offer targeted, interactive advertising spots and have access to better data in order to target ads to specific groups. Microsoft didn’t elaborate on how that would be possible, but claimed more would be coming soon.

To make it easier to switch from another platform, Microsoft started the Mediaroom Migration program, which should give IPTV providers the tools they need to switch. According to Microsoft, before those providers switch, it will provide them with business and technical workshops to review set-top box portability, network compatibility, and audio-visual interoperability.

Image Overlay

Microsoft is also trying to make Mediaroom IPTV more interactive, so the company will show how BBC shows can have a news, sports, and weather overlay during viewing so users can do more than just watch shows while using the service. So if you’re watching a show from the BBC and your wife comes in asking what the forecast will be tomorrow, Mediaroom will now let you pause the show and access BBC weather information, which will be displayed over the paused show. And while you’re at it, you can see what’s going on in the world by accessing the News section by clicking on the widget to the left of the weather widget.

Microsoft has been hard at work trying to improve Mediaroom and its newest additions should help a bit. But these improvements smack of desperation as Microsoft tries to increase the service’s presence. And in a hotly-contested market like IPTV, it will take more than some new ad-targeting and migration tools to make that happen. It will take broader adoption of IPTV, which is in the hands of Microsoft’s partners.

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