HbbTV: What Does It Mean for Broadcasters and Advertisers?

Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV, or HbbTV for short, is the modern-day equivalent of teletext. It combines live video broadcast material with interactive, consumer-facing content and programmatic advertising to bridge the gap between linear TV and digital streaming platforms.

Naturally, HbbTV is far more sophisticated than teletext; it can use mobile devices as second displays, display high-resolution graphics and text, and employ more interactive, targeted advertising strategies. In this essay, we will look at the HbbTV prospects for broadcasters and marketers.

HbbTV for broadcasters

HbbTV enables broadcasters to enhance standard, linear TV programming with sophisticated features. This is especially critical in nations where linear television is still dominant but must catch up with digital advertising and targeting options. It also enables operators to deploy sophisticated services and provide linear channels over IP, among other things.

A method of competing with streaming content providers

While it would be premature to declare conventional television dead, with persistent competition from global streaming behemoths such as Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon, linear broadcasters must find methods to improve and spice up their offering. The move from linear to OTT is happening, although in certain countries, linear TV still accounts for 80% of viewing time.

The “Red Button” content

When a TV supports HbbTV and the broadcaster provides a broadcast-related application, a particular overlay with a “call-to-action,” i.e. the signature HbbTV red button, will appear on the screen. This alerts the user that an app for the material now shown on the screen is available. When the red button on the remote is hit, the app will appear on the TV screen.

When viewing a sports broadcast, the so-called companion app may give additional information, such as pertinent sports statistics or a programme guide with the opportunity to switch stations. It might also be a convenient menu with access to other video content.

Opportunities for Targeted Advertising (TA)

HbbTV enables the substitution of broadcast advertisements with targeted advertisements in situations where the broadcast TV signal is received by a set-top box (STB) and passed to the HbbTV TV set via HDMI.

Content discovery through HbbTV Application Discovery Over Broadband (ADB) 

The HbbTV Application Discovery Over Broadband (ADB) specification offers broadcasters a way to launch an HbbTV app on the screen surviving the carriage over the HDMI connection. 

This enables the broadcaster to use the HbbTV TA API and schedule a precise moment the app switches from HDMI content to an advertisement, and then back again when the ad ends – when the TV set is connected via a STB.

The combination of ADB and TA is a way for advertisers to reach bigger audiences with targeted advertising, and for broadcasters – to offer targeted inventories to advertisers in a homogeneous manner. These two aspects which are very important to ensure high ROIs and help linear broadcasters stand the competition from web and mobile advertising.

Educated, data-driven decisions with real-time viewership and analytics

HbbTV technology also allows broadcasters to see real-time viewership of their programming – something that’s never been possible with linear broadcasting. As a supplement to traditional TV panel data, broadcasters can see actionable insights in real-time. Acting on such data, broadcasters can optimize campaigns, measure audiences and build segments for more effective targeting.

What advantages does HbbTV provide to advertisers?

The HbbTV ADB (Application Discovery Over Broadband) specification gives broadcasters a reliable way to add signaling to video and audio which survives the HDMI connection. The signal can be used by a TV set to launch an HbbTV app – without the need for the user to install an app or switch to another device. 

As mentioned above, HbbTV now enables broadcaster apps to use the HbbTV TA API to schedule a precise switch from HDMI to an advertisement and back again when the TV set is connected via a STB.

But what are the benefits of that?

Better, more precise ads

HbbTV not only enables more interactive TV to attract consumers and retain viewers, but also unlocks new forms of advertising and revenue streams. The most popular implementation of HbbTV advertising is SwitchIn, in which HbbTV content supplements the existing content by displaying overlays on the screen. 

It also provides techniques and capabilities to collect and measure real-time TV device data with the required precision and reach. This unlocks a couple of benefits for advertisers. When inserting an ad, advertisers can differentiate between particular parts of a single program or show to the second. This makes automatic ad insertion more reliable and contextual. The algorithm is based on recommendations from the available data.

HbbTV provides the techniques and capabilities for collecting and measuring real-time data with the required precision and reach. 

Ads are contextual and thus better targeted to the viewer. Unlike in traditional linear TV, HbbTV ads don’t have to interrupt the program. Instead, they can be displayed in the form of overlays which complement the video content, and allow the user to click a button to learn more or “buy now”.

HbbTV brings the advantages of programmatic advertising to linear television. This allows advertisers and broadcasters to:

  • Increased ad revenue
  • Automate and streamline ad sales process by implementing the more effective CPM (cost per click) pricing model
  • Reach different target groups simultaneously within one break (each viewer sees a slightly different ad)
  • Personalized commercial breaks (e.g. by displaying prices in ads using local currency)

Increasing the reach and impact of traditional TV campaigns

Among the many benefits of HbbTV, the technology allows the broadcaster to know exactly what ads are being watched and on which device. This unlocks additional opportunities for the advertisers who now can: 

  • Target only those viewers users who have not yet seen their ad, or 
  • Have more control over how many times a single user has seen an ad.

Other advertising placements are possible e.g. on the red button itself as a sponsor, or on the portal/service as banners. Pre-roll videos for video-on-demand or catch up services are also an option.

Making the traditional TV targetable

Advertising through HbbTV is known to increase ROI. Rather than following the highly inefficient “spray and pray” tactics, advertisers can now use HbbTV addressability to reduce waste. Compared to traditional TV, HbbTV is simply better suited for implementing advanced advertising campaigns which include geo-targeting by region. With HbbTV, it is also possible to target specific viewers by the programs they watch, the time and viewership lookalike audience.

More engaging ad units

With more ad units, dynamic content and red button applications, advertisers can be more engaging, and target ads more precisely, increasing the chances of success. 

Last words

With all the benefits for linear broadcasters and advertisers alike, it’s easy to see why HbbTV adoption is growing at a rapid pace in the EU.

Looking for a partner to develop an HbbTV app or need a quick consultation of your project? Get in touch! Our experts will be happy to help.

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