HbbTV interactive advertisements – lessons learned

09. August 2016

HbbTV technology enables a new way of advertisement distribution. Such advertisements can take advantage of features provided by HbbTV technology, which is interactivity and ability to engage the viewers in their living rooms.

First interactive advertisements campaign in the Czech Republic was broadcasted on several national television channels during the March 2016. The campaign was prepared by us in close cooperation with Atmedia media agency, TV channels, broadcast operators and marketing agencies, which were delivering the creatives for the campaign. (You can check out the project here.)

As a technical solution was used our product, HENMAN (HbbTV Event Manager) server, which took care of scheduling advertisements and serving the HbbTV advertisement templates.

HbbTV advertisements are considered to be a new way how free-to-air channels can monetize the viewing time. The goal of the campaign was to experience this new way and answer following aspects:

- How to properly manage the advertisement workflow and handle all resources, which are:

  • Time slots provided by TV channels
  • Access to the EPG and playlist
  • Advertisement time schedule and rules controlled by media agency
  • Usage of creatives delivered by marketing agencies

- On the technical level goals were:

  • Define ways how to interact systems of various TV channels
  • Find a way how to synchronize advertisements with the broadcasted program

- On the business/marketing level goals were:

  • Measure the number of viewers and the way they use HbbTV advertisement
  • Understand the needs of marketing and media agencies and integrate new metrics and rules in the next version of the HENMAN server
  • Collect the feedback from all participants
  • Educate the viewers and the advertisers

The major problem is the number of players and resources that have to be considered and orchestrated at the same time.

The output of the trial run was the definition of four types of HbbTV advertisement rules, which could be set for every advertisement campaign, and followed by the re-engineering of the HENMAN server implementation. You can see the summary of what we have learned below.

HbbTV advertisement rules reflect primarily marketing and sales requirements. Depending on the rules structure, additional information from TV channels could be required. The schema below shows the general structure of the resources required by a HbbTV advertisement campaign:

These rules have been defined as follows:

  1. The first of the rules requires the information about free time slots from a TV channel, i.e. times when the HbbTV advertisement/event could overlap on the TV screen the broadcasted content. Advertisement campaign, which is using such rules, is independent of the broadcasted content.
  2. The second of the rules requires the playlist, i.e. the information when and which content is being broadcasted. (Note: A method that solves the situation when the time of real-time broadcasting differs from the time originally defined in a playlist has to be implemented – e.g. broadcasting is time-shifted because of a longer football match).
  3. The third of the rules requires the combination of the data from a playlist and the information about free time slots in order to prevent displaying the HbbTV advertisement/event in inappropriate situations (e.g. over broadcasted advertisements).

Examples of advertisement/event rules are:

  • Display the advertisement/event every day between 5PM and 10PM for one month starting with e.g. 1st March 2017.
  • Display the advertisement/event once per hour, at maximum.
  • Display the advertisement/event every day during the "sunrise show".
  • Display the advertisement/event 4 times during the movie "Catch That Kid" broadcast.

The role of the HENMAN server is to combine all inputs (advertisement/event rules, free time slots, and playlist) and generate the time slots for displaying a HbbTV advertisement/event.

There is one more, the fourth of the rules: This one does not require any information related to the TV channel playlist or free advertisement time slots as it is being displayed based only on advertisement/event rules.

These rules led us to define 2 interfaces between the HENMAN advertisement server and the customer DVB system:

  • If the interface is used for ingesting the free time slots (uses SCP or HTTP(S) protocols).
  • If the interface is used for ingesting the playlist/EPG (uses SCP or HTTP(S) protocols).

Free OTT insights in your inbox