@ Mipcom: BT Vision Plans Personalised TV Ads, On-Target For Subs Growth

BT’s (NYSE: BT) Vision TV service is to launch a service tailoring advertising to individual viewers as part of a phase-two ramp-up of the slow-burning offering. Sharing a Mipcom stage with execs from Orange and Fastweb, the platform’s director of business affairs, Mark Cranwell, said: “I’m pleased to say the projections we gave to the market about customer numbers, we’re on target and we are very pleased with the customer acquisition process so far. The next layer is going to be the really interesting part, I think – that’s going to be introducing ad management and t-commerce opportunities, so actually knowing what the consumer is interested in and targeting ads to them on a completely personalised basis and then giving them some t-commerce opportunities.

“With broadband, you have a very fast back-channel … it’s that that kind of one-on-one relationship we are going to really leverage.” Examples include offering Audi ads to viewers who watch lots of motoring shows and will come behind the red button functionality familiar to other interactive TV platforms. The hybrid Freeview/IPTV box launched in December 2006, only started marketing this May and is aiming for 100,000 subscribers by year’s end.

VOD: “Our early reports back from the viewing statistics is, use of the video-on-demand element of our service is unbelievable – we’re averaging over 30 views per customer (per month). Granted, we have quite a small customer base, but they were watching over one video-on-demand asset per day, and that was off the charts of what we were expecting – so maybe they don’t need education (about interactive options).” Cranwell said download-to-own TV programming was “on the roadmap” but BT Vision had so far left that on the PC alone while the service was launched.

Competition: Although BT Vision has had slow traction: “We’re quite pleased to be operating under the radar and letting Sky sand Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) hammer it out. At some point, (people) will sit up and take notice.” Cranwell conceded Microsoft’s (NSDQ: MSFT) Xbox 360 could offer competing services: “It’s comp from every angle, including our main technology provider … We could be sitting here in six months and it could be virtually identical.”