BT Vision has appointed emuse absolutely as a preferred supplier of interactive advertising services. They will jointly develop, promote and operate the service, working with major brands and advertising agencies to deliver interactive advertising and other interactive applications for the BT Vision television and video service in the United Kingdom.

The hybrid platform combines free-to-air broadcast digital terrestrial television channels with broadband. It will enable the creation of high-speed, video-rich advertising, with full interactivity and data capture to provide response mechanisms.

The BT Vision service is based on the Microsoft Mediaroom platform, formerly known as Microsoft TV IPTV Edition. This now features a Multimedia Application Environment that offers support for web services and applications, enabling service providers to deploy advanced features such as dynamic video-on-demand portals, casual games and interactive TV services.

“We believe that BT Vision will offer the most compelling interactive advertising opportunity in the UK, and we are delighted to offer advertisers and their agencies a presence on our platform,” said Dan Marks, the chief executive of BT Vision. “We have chosen to work with emuse because they are one of the most experienced and sophisticated interactive advertising providers in the UK, with unrivalled IPTV experience.”

Broadband certainly has the potential to provide a rich interactive advertising environment. To date there has been relatively little experience of providing interactive television advertising in an internet protocol television environment. There have been some experiments on the rival Tiscali TV service, previously known as HomeChoice.

“This is an excellent opportunity for us to work on the most advanced new platform in the UK,” said Patrick Rainsford, the chief executive of emuse absolutely. “It allows us the opportunity to create and deploy much richer and faster interactive advertising with true accountability.”

BSkyB has pioneered interactive advertising on its digital satellite platform. The availability of a broadband connection addresses the main limitations of satellite distribution — the need to broadcast applications and any audio or video elements continuously and the speed of the dialup return path. Cable television, which should provide the perfect environment for interactive advertising, has been slow to exploit the potential in the UK, and indeed generally.

Broadband video services provide a powerful platform for advertisers, but the number of viewers and therefore the addressable audience is still very limited. BT Vision has at most a few tens of thousands of homes and the moment, although it has big ambitions.

The opportunities for BT Vision to sell interactive advertising are also more limited, as it simply offers the broadcast channels already available on Freeview, the advertising airtime for which is sold by third parties. The remaining opportunities will mainly be around video-on-demand services.

Nevertheless, BT Vision will offer agencies the ability to experiment with interactive advertising formats and exploit the capabilities of an advanced platform, which should lead to greater innovation.

The Microsoft Mediaroom platform has been selected by many top tier telecommunications operators around the world, so learning from this experience should be transferable to other major markets, with some degree of portability of applications.

Emuse absolutely already provides interactive advertising services on digital terrestrial and satellite television in the United Kingdom, providing a total service to advertisers from design to creation and deployment on digital terrestrial and satellite television.

Based in Dublin, Emuse has offices in London, Los Angeles and Denver, Colorado.