June 19, 2008
The promise of targetted interactive TV ads has been “right around the corner” for about 15 years now.
Sadly, this is something I’ve been watching much more closely than I would like. In 2000, I led our investment in Ucentric Systems, a company that had some terrific technology to bring the cable and satellite industries into the 21st Century by enabling interactive functionality throughout your home. The Ucentric guys were dead on in terms of vision and product. But unfortunately Ucentric, and their lead investor (me), were about 8 years too early.
Watching the cable industry innovate isn’t like watching the paint dry, it is like watching it peel!
So I naturally bring skepticism to any big deal announcement involving cable tech — especially when it involves Microsoft.
All that said, it does seem like we are moving steadily, even if slowly, towards a world where broadband TV and broadcast TV look more and more like each other. Broadband TV is improving dramatically in terms of selection and quality of viewing experience. and broadcast TV is moving more and more toward interactivity. And, I’d expect their advertising platforms to become more and more similar, too. (This is the whole premise of my portfolio company, BlackArrow, which has built a single platform for video programmers to manage ads across all the platforms from which their video will be viewed).