Chapter 2. iTV Scenarios
There are countless issues that need to be addressed when producing enhanced content, generating the transport stream, and designing receivers. This chapter serves as an introductory overview rather than a complete reference. It presents issues
2.1 Advertising Scenarios
Interactive television provides marketers with the means to personalize and
iTV advertising encourages
An interesting report of effectiveness of iTV ads (iAd), called the Advertising Confidence Index (ACI), is available from Myers Reports Inc., at www.jackmyers.com/research/myersreports.htm [ACI]. This report was compiled in June 2001 through surveys of more than 150 media buying executives. Although the ACI index for all media continues to hover around 49.40, iTV buys ranked a 52.13 on the Index, online sponsorships rated 60.82, and banner ads were 49.09. In comparison, network broadcast TV rated only 39.25 and consumer magazines rated an ACI of 46.35. The latest ACI report is available from Myers
2.1.1 Mass Customization
iTV enables advances in the area of
The primary method for achieving mass customization is through the use of channel changing. The ATSC Directed Channel Change (DCC) enables the
The DCC relies on the DCC table, which contains a list of structures that permit the ability to specify zero or more tests to be performed to determine whether or not a channel change can be effected. These tests may include determination of whether a viewer's DTV is located within a particular postal code region, whether the viewer is a member of a particular demographic group, or whether a program's content rating value results in a viewing block. In addition, when the viewer specifies the appropriate preferences, the tests may customize content according to age
Mass customization can also be achieved by combining customized subsetting of a single uniform broadcast, with customized data pull from the Internet using an ISP to fit the preferences of individual viewers (see Figure 2.1). The unexpected result is a simultaneous increase in the advertisement effectiveness and time capacity, both of which are critical revenue drivers for broadcasters.
Figure 2.1. Mass customization achieved through subsetting.
Many believe that one of the biggest stumbling blocks for iTV is fear that the technology will compromise viewers' privacy. The use of subsetting without Internet pull avoids sending data out of the set-top box. Specifically, this technique
Customization of ad-sequences (whether using DCC or subsetting) to an individual viewer's preferences is very powerful, as it
To customize advertising sequences there is often a need to access multiple video streams or files, and switch the display during pre-determined discontinuity points. When such a need arises, VOD servers could be used to deliver custom advertisement sequences. To achieve the desired switching of advertisements, an iTV application consults viewer's preferences to determine the best advertisement subset to display. The advertisement video clips may be delivered using either IP-based or MPEG-based protocols through the main broadcast or via a return channel; in either case, bandwidth must be allocated
The push-pull mass-customization model utilizes bandwidth shared among millions of viewers to push a uniform broadcast which then pulls content customized to the individual preferences of each of these viewers. This
Interactivity has pitfalls as well. When viewers enter an interactive mode, they may be prevented from watching advertisements. Advertisers interrupting an interactive (e.g., email) session may be achieving negative impact. This issue could be addressed by adding, within the GUI of interactive programs, ad
2.1.2 Traditional Ads Enhanced with Data
General industry wisdom suggests that it is not recommended to innovate in more than one dimension. Therefore, as the first step, it is expected that iTV advertisements will innovate along a single dimension: enhancement of existing video ads with data services, rather than authoring of a new type of ad.
In an enhanced advertisement scenario, the viewer
This scenario is sometimes referred to as the two-phased commercial (see Figure 2.2). During the first phase, the commercial's data service, namely the advertising application, is downloaded and decoded. During the second phase, interactivity is enabled and the iTV enhancement application is launched. A number of variations on this theme can achieve tighter receiver resource management. For example, the loading of the data for the
Figure 2.2. Two-phased processing of existing advertisements enhanced with iTV applications.
The interactive application could present the viewer with localized customized information (see Figure 2.3), where the address of the
Figure 2.3. An example of a video advertisement enhanced with customized information.
The enhanced ads scenario induces a number of technical system requirements. The data needs to be transmitted, received, and decoded during the period of the commercial. The commercial needs to self-configure to execute on receivers with limited capabilities. To handle channel surfing, interactivity should be disabled in case tuning is performed in the middle of the commercial.
2.1.3 Data-only Ads
Another type of iTV commercials are those that do not contain video. These ads are less expensive for both advertiser and broadcaster because they require very little bandwidth (compared to video ads) and can be seamlessly tacked onto regular video broadcasts; in fact, they are not related and typically detached from the video. They transition in and out using some sophisticated animation. They could further pull relevant localized advertiser information from an Internet connection, or a return channel.
During the TV program (not in a commercial break) a small graphic transitions in using some animation. It is placed on a predesignated (possibly inactive) area of the display and persists for some duration (e.g., 30 to 90 seconds). During that time period, the viewer is presented with an indication that the content is interactive without indicating whether the interactivity
Such data-only ads can be used by broadcasters to announce events on
When an Internet connection is available, a data-only advertisement may utilize links to Web sites related to the advertised product. One possibility is that when the viewer selects the more info button, a bookmark is automatically added, reminding the viewer, at a later time, to review that link.
Data only advertisements should utilize a variety of animated transition and rendering techniques such as
Data only commercials induce a number of requirements. These commercials may not significantly obscure the video. They should be presented with loose synchronization when their timing is of marginal importance. In the case of a banner-ad containing a live video preview, the TV programs referenced must be transmitted simultaneously and can be
2.1.4 Ads Enabling Financial Transactions
iTV commercials may enable financial transactions immediately on activation (impulse purchases) or at a later time (iTV shopping cart). When such a commercial arrives, the viewer is presented with an indication that it is interactive. On selection, such commercials may present the viewer with a purchase option. On activation, the viewer is presented with an advertiser-supplied graphics requesting the viewer to fill in the details of an order. Some iTV receivers may feature an automatic data fill or defaulting option that is similar to the auto-fill feature of state-of-the-art Web browsers. This graphic form contains an order submission button, which upon selection, verifies the order information and
This scenario implies a number of requirements. The advertiser must coordinate with both the broadcaster and the interactive service provider (see Figure 2.4). The commercial must have some graphics (e.g., flashing icon) indicating it is selectable (Figure 2.5 left). The application within the broadcast must be able to initiate and process a financial transaction. The order-details form may be transmitted either via a broadcast or a return channel (see Figure 2.5 right). The logic that requires performing the financial transaction (e.g., working against clearinghouses) could be implemented by the downloaded application (i.e., at the receiver) or by a server-side software application, hosted by some ISP on
Figure 2.4. The relationships between the advertiser, broadcaster, ISP, and receiver.
Figure 2.5. Pizza ordering page