“There is a genuine appetite for TA [Targeted Advertising] to be made available for classical broadcast television. This is accompanied by the overall feeling that, with too many technical solutions, there is a risk of fragmentation in the marketplace that would hinder any progress.” That is the view of Vincent Grivet (of TDF) and Angelo Pettazzi (of Mediaset), the co-chairs of the DVB’s CM-TA (Commercial Module for TA) group that will be seeking agreement on a set of Commercial Requirements (CR) that the DVB can help form into a specification in a bid to get more standardisation into this emerging marketplace.
It is expected that the Commercial Requirements will be agreed by June. The draft specification would then go before the DVB Steering Board for approval and, once approved, could pave the way for the first market implementations in 2020. The CM-TA co-chairs hope that the work of DVB on TA “can help unlock the full potential of TA in broadcast television.”
This DVB-TA framework should be generated in close cooperation with HbbTV, with a view to re-using all relevant existing (or future) HbbTV assets, the DVB has concluded. The two organisations have already agreed to this.
DVB Chairman, Peter MacAvock says, “With the formation of CM-TA, DVB shows that it is committed to remain the central hub where the specifications of the TV industry are written, and in this case in close cooperation with HbbTV.”
The DVB is concerned that as initial solutions for addressable TV advertising are being introduced, the underlying technologies are predominantly proprietary and have a narrow scope. “This creates a risk of technology fragmentation and could act in adverse ways for the existing TV ecosystem,” it believes.
Because of this, the DVB set up a dedicated Commercial Module – Study Mission Group in March 2017 to assess the relevance of generating a new DVB specification dedicated to enabling Targeted Advertising serving, at the very least, classical broadcast television. The Study Mission Group published its final report in September 2017. It concluded the following:
- Targeted advertising is very likely to take a very high commercial importance in the context of broadcast TV, and it is a high priority to enable broadcasters to offer such models to their advertising customers
- No satisfactory, complete, open technology framework enabling TA in the context of horizontal broadcast TV is currently available, though HbbTV appears as a robust starting base.
- Given the combination of the high commercial importance and the lack of a suitable enabling technical framework, it was advised that DVB should generate a dedicated DVB-TA specification (or technology framework) to fully enable TA, focusing on horizontal broadcast business models as a minimum.
- [The final conclusion has already been noted above – that the DVB-TA framework should harness HbbTV assets and work closely with HbbTV].
In November, the DVB Steering Board approved the Study Mission Group (SMG) report and the creation of the dedicated CM-TA commercial sub-group. This is tasked with implementing the Targeted Advertising SMG recommendations.
This is a significant moment in the evolution of addressable advertising, especially for the broadcast market. Technology solutions are already deployed and working in Europe (where Sky is pioneering this concept) and North America, but on a pan-European or world scale the market is still very young.
While commercial broadcasters, like Channel 5 in the UK, have embraced the targeting solutions offered by Pay TV partners (in this case, Sky), there is interest in alternative/complementary solutions – and let’s be clear that to achieve 100% reach for addressability, broadcasters will need to work with more than one partner and technology.
Some ad-tech and data-tech providers are making it feasible to target advertisers in broadcast streams via Smart TVs, separately to the Pay TV universe. But the biggest initiative outside of the Pay TV space is the work using HbbTV in Europe, where broadcasters are looking to deliver IP-streamed advertising (that can be targeted) to connected devices and insert those streams seamlessly into the broadcast signal.
The technology options are expanding rapidly, and that trend is only going to accelerate. If, as we think, broadcasters will need to juggle multiple addressable ecosystems to achieve full population coverage (for targeting), then it is natural that they will hope for some form of harmonisation in the processes being used.
But, as with all major tech innovations in television, getting out there early with what are being termed ‘proprietary’ technologies can give you a great head-start. And being part of a limited ecosystem dominated by the choices of a single tech vendor has not hurt anybody to date as, on an industry-level, we are only just getting started with what the DVB has termed ‘Targeted Advertising’.