In a world first, (Mediengruppe) RTL Deutschland, working with sales house IP Deutschland and technology subsidiary Smartclip, and the broadcast/IT services provider CBC, the advertiser (and confectioner) Ferrero and their agency Vizeum (Dentsu Aegis Network), has switched the embedded adverts within a broadcast signal for IP-delivered advertisements using the HbbTV 2.0 framework. The ad replacement was frame accurate in real-time, marking a dramatic technology advance. Currently it is possible, using the older HbbTV standards, to present IP-delivered ads in front of a broadcast channel viewer, but usually when they change channels (so without replacing broadcast ads in a standard broadcast break).
On Wednesday August 23, starting late evening and through the night, the RTLplus broadcast channel ran Ferrero ads showing Raffaello chocolates. Most viewers of the channel in Germany will have seen these ads. Viewers with HbbTV 2.0 compatible Smart TVs, however, saw ads for ‘nutella B-ready’ (snack bars) instead. During the ad breaks, the HbbTV 2.0 signal told their televisions to switch from the broadcast channel to an IP stream for 20 seconds (both ads were 20 seconds long) and the IP stream contained the replacement ad (nutella B-ready’).
All the companies involved are correctly proud of this achievement, which was a commercial implementation (so not a test) seen by real viewers with HbbTV 2.0 televisions. This was not part of a long, ongoing ad campaign, however, so should be looked upon as a proof-of-concept for the advertising community (the two advertising choices were only run for one day).
Dynamic ad replacement is nothing new, of course. This is possible on fully IP television streams, like you see on an iPad or when watching through a Smart TV app (having entered the app to instigate IP viewing sessions, like a broadcast player service). In this case, the programme itself is streamed in IP and the ads are also streamed in IP (increasingly inserted into the stream on the server-side, but sometimes stitched into the stream at device level). Meanwhile, in the all-broadcast world, dynamic advertising insertion/replacement is possible using proprietary systems like Sky’s AdSmart. These typically download and store replacement ads on a DVR hard drive so those advertisements can be inserted into a broadcast channel while someone watches it in real-time.
Unlike these IP-into-IP and broadcast-into-broadcast ad replacement approaches, the companies backing the HbbTV standards have been working on what amounts to an IP-into-broadcast hybrid. Using HbbTV to present IP-delivered ads in front of a broadcast channel (e.g. when you tune in) and now for inserting IP-delivered ads where there would otherwise have been a broadcast-delivered ad, has great potential for the free-to-air market. German broadcasters are particularly supportive of the concept.
The RTLplus deployment this week did not involve any targeting, if you discount the idea that the minority of viewers with the latest (HbbTV 2.0) Smart TVs represent a target audience. However, there is clear potential to use this technology to target audiences in future based on demographics or other factors (like lifestyle attributes) if broadcasters can gather sufficient data about the homes involved. Thus the HbbTV technologies provide one potential route to targeted ads in free-to-air broadcast markets.
Thorsten Schütte-Gravelaar, General Manager at Smartclip, comments: “As an addressable TV specialist, we are delighted that HbbTV 2.0 is now becoming more concrete. The ad switch for Ferrero successfully proved the opportunities to better exploit both marketing sales and potential. The market will be able to exploit addressable TV in commercial breaks through the extended [HbbTV] standard, HbbTV 2.0.”
Eddy Perner, Senior Media Manager at Ferrero, says: “We have an extensive range of products that find favour with a mass audience yet also serve various specific target groups. For this reason, an opportunity to customise TV advertising is extremely interesting for us. We did not have to think twice about taking part in this pilot.”