Contextual Advertising grows, positive herald for TV Contextual Awareness opportuntities

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Contextual AdvertisingContextual advertising is on the rise to become mainstream, Yahoo! Finance reports that "Vibrant, the global leader in contextual advertising, has increased its U.S. user base by 50% in the past year, from 87 million in September 2009 to 130 million, according to comScore."

Co-founder and CEO of Vibrant, Doug Stevenson, said:

“Vibrant’s surge in the rankings, with 130 million U.S. uniques, is driven by the tremendous value we provide advertisers, publishers and users. We are engaging a growing worldwide audience with relevant, contextual content across a network of more than 4,500 premium publishers. This user base is sought after by advertisers such as Microsoft, Unilever, Best Buy and Blackberry RIM, for whom our solutions bridge the gap between search and display and deliver results.”

To further help leading Vibrant's expansion strategy, the company brought on the renowned financial Jeff Babka as CFO. As stated in the press release which announced this news:

Jeff Babka's career includes a wide variety of financial and operational management and executive positions, including a long tenure at AT&T, Lucent Technologies, and Concert. Just prior to joining NeuStar, he was Executive Vice President, Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer of Indus International, a publicly-held service delivery management software company, where he led the Indus team on two acquisitions and the raising of $40 million in new investor financing while executing a financial turnaround.

Both the growth in users and bringing in Jeff Babka as CFO, points out to an interesting market that is certainly becoming an important fundament in this information-overload society.

In a previous article, Contextually Enriched Video and WebTV: Creating Immersive Experiences, pointed out to "immersive experiences depend on relevancy and a content-context diarchy in order to get the attention of users". If relevancy between Content and Users is established, Contextual Awareness can be then created. 



How can Contextual Awareness be achieved?Interrelated

First of all by advertising. Serving relevant ads based on the content provided on the website is an enhancement of that website, plus a less- or non-interrupting form of advertising, offering visitors a better experience and flow of websites/apps/etc in order to reach their goals. The overarching part is more interesting, in the sense that Contextual Awareness will create content-enhanced Content with the help of others, automatically. 

Contextual enriched websites become depended/interrelated by other sources. If this is done in a "premium" kind of way, websites/apps/etc have a crowdsourced/co-creational added-value, which was more difficult to achieve if done by themselves. Just as can be seen in the image at the right, becoming a hub and not an end-point is neccesary to be visited.


Possible side-effects of Contextual Awareness for B2B

Contextual awareness could also means new business opportunities for content providers, creating content specific from this point of perspective. Focus of this type of content creators will be relevancy and quality and it can create new business models. Companies that are providing the technology to serve relevant data are HyperTV and LinkTV for instance.


Impact on Connected TV

When providing a lean-back TV experience, contextual awareness solutions will further increase the lean-back experience, by letting users be served with relevant data instead of letting them actively search for it. Lean-back also refers to the way of content discovery, contextual awareness will help users to filter out data more effectively instead of letting them explore the Internet content.

Connected TV in relation to a lean-back TV experience then fits the Synaptic TV concept. Elaborated in a Synaptic TV article on AppMarket, shifting from active to reactive:

Instead of the simple data/content, the stream of information/relationships are giving meaning, relevancy and importance to data/content.
The other important notion of the Synaptic Web is the usage of filtering instead of search.

From a TV experience point of view:

When taken this a level up, a holistic information experience can be created and/or enhanced, based upon medium/screen, type of information and usage.
One of the additional parameters is taking into account which medium is used for what consumption and using this knowledge to offer better information-on-medium experiences.

I do think this fits better the overall TV experience and usage than Google's, transferring the Web/Search to television and 'forcing' a lean-in/active process. Computer and TV don't have the same purposes, simple as that. The gap between the way we watch TV and Synaptic TV is much smaller, and benefits from both sides (conventional versus transforming TV usage), which advances adoption as well.


Revenue models

News by Vibrant is an important and essential part of the success of contextual awareness, simply because money needs to be made and an increase in contextual advertising investments -as a concrete way- of generating revenue is a good sign. For TV content providers an extra revenue model that complements existing (and diminishing) revenues.

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