US 20080104637 A1
A method for providing commercials includes receiving user input for selecting an advertising parameter and providing a user with a commercial corresponding to the advertising parameter.
1. A method, comprising:
outputting to a device by a digital home communication terminal (DHCT) a graphical user interface (GUI) that comprises a menu having a plurality of user-selectable advertisement categories;
receiving by the DHCT a plurality of user inputs respectively corresponding to user-selected advertisement categories from the plurality of user-selectable advertisement categories, wherein the user inputs are provided by a user of the device; and
responsive to receiving the plurality of user inputs, outputting to the device by the DHCT one or more commercials corresponding to at least one of the user-selected advertisement categories.
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13. A system, comprising:
a memory with logic; and
a processor configured with the logic to:
output to a device a graphical user interface (GUI) that comprises a menu having a plurality of user-selectable advertisement categories;
receive a plurality of user inputs respectively corresponding to user-selected advertisement categories from the plurality of user-selectable advertisement categories, wherein the user inputs are provided by a user of the device; and
responsive to receiving the plurality of user inputs, output to the device one or more commercials corresponding to at least one of the user-selected advertisement categories.
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This application is a continuation of copending U.S. utility application entitled, “Management of Television Advertising,” having Ser. No. 10/073,842, filed Feb. 11, 2002, which is entirely incorporated herein by reference.
This application is related to copending U.S. Utility patent application entitled “Triggering of Television Advertisements,” filed on the same date as the present application, having docket no. A-12198 and accorded Ser. No. ______, which is entirely incorporated herein by reference.
This application is related to copending U.S. Utility patent application entitled “User Preference Television Advertising,” filed on the same date as the present application, having docket no. A-12197 and accorded Ser. No. ______, which is entirely incorporated herein by reference.
This invention relates in general to television systems, and more particularly, to the field of subscriber television systems.
Cable television systems are now capable of providing many services in addition to analog broadcast video. In implementing enhanced programming, the home communication terminal (“HCT”), otherwise known as the settop box, has become an important computing device for accessing various video services. In addition to supporting traditional analog broadcast video functionality, digital HCTs (or “DHCTs”) now also support an increasing number of two-way digital services such as video-on-demand.
A DHCT is typically connected to a cable or satellite television network and includes hardware and software necessary to provide various services and functionality. Preferably, some of the software executed by a DHCT is downloaded and/or updated via the cable television network. Each DHCT also typically includes a processor, communication components and memory, and is connected to a television or other display device. While many conventional DHCTs are stand-alone devices that are externally connected to a television, a DHCT and/or its functionality may be integrated into a television or personal computer, as will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art.
A DHCT provides users with television programming and television advertising. Many DHCT users, however, often avoid viewing television advertisements. Television advertisements may be avoided in a number of ways including, for example, by switching television channels during an advertisement or by recording a television program and then using trick mode functionality to skip recorded advertisements. One reason for why a viewer may avoid viewing an advertisement is because the viewer may not be interested in the product or service being advertised. Advertisement avoidance results in lower advertisement exposure for advertisers and, therefore, in lower potential revenue for television service providers. Therefore, there is a need for systems and methods for increasing the viewing of television advertisements.
The invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings. The components in the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon clearly illustrating the principles of the present invention. In the drawings, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the several views.
Systems and methods are provided herein for managing the presentation of television advertisements. As a non-limiting example, among others, a television advertisement may be an audio/video television commercial. In one embodiment of the invention, a DHCT receives user input for selecting an advertisement or type of advertisement, and then presents the user with an advertisement that corresponds to the user's selection. The advertisement may be presented to the user immediately after the user's selection or may be presented to the user at subsequent times during interruptions in television broadcast presentations.
In another embodiment, a DHCT may keep track of the number of times that an advertisement is presented to a user in order to determine whether the advertisement is to continue being presented. The DHCT may also keep track of the total number of advertisements that have been presented over a predetermined period of time in order to determine whether to present an additional advertisement at a current time.
In yet another embodiment of the invention, an advertisement or type of advertisement is assigned a value by a system operator. A user may then select advertisements and/or types of advertisements based their respective assigned values as shown via an advertisement selection screen. A DHCT may then manage the presentation of advertisements based on their individual and/or cumulative values. As a non-limiting example, the frequency and/or duration of an advertisement or plurality of advertisements may be inversely correlated to the value of the advertisement(s).
The preferred embodiments of the present invention now will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings. These embodiments are examples, among others, of systems and methods of the present invention. Therefore, the present invention, which may be embodied in many different forms, should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein.
In one embodiment of the invention, an advertising counter may be used to track a number of times that a television advertisement is presented by a DHCT 200. In one implementation, an advertisement continues to be presented via a DHCT 200 until it has been presented a predetermined number of times via the DHCT 200 or via a plurality of DHCTs. If the advertisement is stored in a DHCT 200, then it may be deleted from the DHCT 200 after it is presented a predetermined number of times. An “electronic advertisement information” (EAI) database 228 may be used to keep track of advertisements that are to be stored in or deleted from a DHCT 200. If the advertisement is stored at the headend 110, then the headend 110 may discontinue broadcasting the advertisement after it is presented a predetermined number of times. For example, a certain advertisement may be deleted or discontinued after it is presented 10 times by a single DHCT 200 and/or after it is presented 15,000 times by a group of DHCTs. In one possible implementation, the advertising counter in a DHCT 200 may track the number of times that an advertisement is presented to a user or a group of users of a particular DHCT 200 by soliciting certain user input during, before, or after the presentation of the advertisement and then determining if the solicited input is received. In another implementation, the advertising counter may track the number of times that an advertisement is presented to a user based on whether the television 140 is turned on while the advertisement is being presented by the DHCT 200; if the television is not turned on, then the counter is not incremented. In one possible implementation, a television may be determined to be turned on if certain user input related to the operation of the television (e.g., volume control, channel navigation, among others) had been received by the DHCT 200 within a preceding predetermined period of time.
In another embodiment, a television advertisement continues to be presented intermittently via a DHCT 200 until it has been presented a predetermined number of times via the DHCT 200 or until an expiration date. In yet another embodiment, an advertisement is only shown during enabled viewing periods associated with the advertisement and/or according to the program category that the viewer is watching at a current time. Hence, an advertisement may feature a set of flags in an EAI database record that indicates when the respective advertisement is enabled for viewing. For example, a car or truck advertisement may be enabled for viewing during periods when a sports or news program is being watched and/or during certain times of the day. The enabled viewing periods occur between the advertisement's introduction date and the advertisement's expiration date. The enabled viewing periods, the introduction date, and the expiration date may be received from the headend 110 and stored in the EAI database 228 in DRAM 220.
A enabled viewing period associated with a television advertisement may have a recurring schedule such as, for example, among others, a daily recurring schedule and/or a weekly recurring schedule. As a non-limiting example, liquor or beer advertisements may have enabled viewing periods of 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. during weekdays and 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. during weekend days (weekly recurring schedule); adult movies and products advertisements may have enabled viewing periods from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. every day (daily recurring scheduled); and football advertisements may have enabled viewing periods from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekend days only (weekly recurring schedule).
In another embodiment of the invention, a user is presented with an advertisement that corresponds to an advertisement or type of advertisement that is selected by the user. An advertisement or type of advertisement may be selected by a user significantly in advance (e.g., an hour, a day, a week, a month, or a year in advance) and/or immediately prior to the presentation of a corresponding advertisement. Furthermore, an advertisement selection screen may be provided to a user in response to user input and/or during an advertisement interruption in a television broadcast presentation. Selection options in an advertisement selection screen may be retrieved from the EAI database 228.
In yet another embodiment of the invention, an advertisement is associated with a value or weight. The DHCT 200 may keep track of the total value of the advertisements that are presented via DHCT 200 based on the value of the individual advertisements that are presented. For example, if the DHCT 200 presents ten advertisements having a value of 1, ten advertisements having a value of 2, and ten advertisements having a value of 3 over a certain period of time, then the total value of the advertisements presented over that period of time is equal to 60.
A user may be informed of the value of each of a plurality of advertisements and/or types of advertisements and may be provided with an option of selecting the advertisements and/or types of advertisements that the user desires to watch. In one implementation, the higher the total value of advertisements that are presented to a user over a certain period of time, the less the total number and/or duration of advertisements will be. For example, a user who is presented with advertisements having a total value of 1V may be presented with advertisements having a total duration of 2 T, and another user who is presented advertisements having a value of 2V may be presented with advertisements having a total duration of 1 T, where V represents a certain total value and T represents a certain total duration. Although the total value of advertisements presented over a certain period of time may be inversely correlated to the total duration of the advertisements, the correlation coefficient is not necessarily −1. In this manner, a Multiple System Operator (MSO) may assign values to advertisements based on the levels of advertisement exposure that are desired by the respective advertisers. An MSO may charge advertisers based on the value that is associated with their respective advertisements and/or based on the estimated number of times that their respective advertisements are presented to viewers via DHCTs that receive the MSO's television programming. In one implementation, an estimated number of times that an advertisement is presented to a user may be based on user inputs that are received by the DHCTs confirming that the advertisement has been, is being, and/or will be viewed.
The DHCT 200 may include one or more wireless or wired interfaces (not shown), also called ports, for receiving and/or transmitting data to other devices. For instance, the DHCT 200 may feature a USB (Universal Serial Bus), an Ethernet port (for connection to a computer), an IEEE-1394 connection (for connecting to consumer electronics equipment), a serial port, a parallel port, a radio frequency (RF) interface, and/or an infra-red (IR) interface. In this manner, user inputs may be provided via, for example, a personal computer, buttons or keys located on the exterior of the DHCT 200, a hand-held remote control device, and/or a keyboard that includes user-actuated keys, etc.
The DHCT 200 may include an advertisement storage unit 295 for storing advertisements. Stored advertisements are generally referred to herein as advertisement clips or advertisement media streams. The storage unit 295 may incorporate electronic, magnetic, optical, and/or other types of storage media. An advertisement management application 225 may be used for managing advertisements, including managing content stored in the storage unit 295. Advertisements may be received from a headend 110 (
System memory 210 includes flash memory 230 and dynamic random access memory (DRAM) 220 for storing various applications, modules and data for execution and use by the processor 240. Basic functionality of the DHCT 200 is provided by an operating system 234 that is primarily stored in flash memory 230. The operating system 234 includes at least one resource manager 235 that provides an interface to and coordination of resources of the DHCT 200 such as, for example, computing resources.
One or more programmed software applications, herein referred to as applications, are executed by utilizing the computing resources in the DHCT 200. Applications stored in flash memory 230 or DRAM 220 are executed by processor 240 under the auspices of the operating system 234. Data required as input by an application is stored in DRAM 220 or flash memory 230 and read by processor 240 as needed during the course of the application's execution. Input data may be data stored in DRAM 220 by a secondary application or other source, either internal or external to the DHCT 200, or possibly anticipated by the application and thus created with the application at the time it was generated as a software application, in which case it is stored in flash memory 230. Data generated by an application is stored in DRAM 220 by processor 240 during the course of the application's execution.
An application referred to as navigator 236 is also resident in flash memory 230 and provides a navigation framework for services provided by the DHCT 200. The navigator 236 registers for and in some cases reserves certain user inputs related to navigational keys such as television channel up/down, last television channel, favorite television channel, etc. The client applications may be resident in flash memory 230 or downloaded into DRAM 220.
The flash memory 230 also contains a platform library 231. The platform library 231 is a collection of utilities useful to applications, such as a timer manager, a compression manager, a configuration manager, an HTML parser, a database manager, a widget toolkit, a string manager, and other utilities (not shown). These utilities are accessed by applications via application programming interfaces (APIs) as necessary so that each application does not have to contain these utilities. Two components of the platform library 231 that are shown in
The window manager 233 provides a mechanism for implementing the sharing of the screen regions and user input. The window manager 233 is also responsible for, as directed by one or more applications, implementing the creation, display, and allocation of the limited DHCT 200 screen resources. Window manager 233 allows multiple applications to share the screen by assigning ownership of screen regions, or windows. Window manager 233 communicates with resource manager 235 to coordinate available resources (such as display memory) among different resource-consuming processes. Such processes may be directly or indirectly invoked by one or more applications.
The window manager 233 also maintains, among other things, a user input registry 221 in DRAM 220 so that when a user enters a key or a command via a remote control device or another input device such as a keyboard or mouse, the user input registry 221 may be accessed to determine which of various applications running on the DHCT 200 should receive data corresponding to the input key and in which order. As an application is executed, it registers a request to receive certain user input keys or commands. When the user presses a key corresponding to one of the commands on the remote control device, the command is received by the receiver 260 and relayed to the processor 240. The processor 240 dispatches the event to the operating system 234 where it is forwarded to the window manager 233. The window manager 233 then accesses the user input registry 221 and routes data corresponding to the incoming command to the appropriate application.
The SAM client 232 is a client component of a client-server pair of components, with the server component being located on the headend 110 (
Application clients can be downloaded into DRAM 220 at the request of the SAM client 232, typically in response to a request by the user or in response to a message from the headend. In this non-limiting example, DRAM 220 contains an interactive program guide (IPG) application 224 and an advertisement management application 225. The IPG application 224 may use IPG data stored in IPG database 227 to determine a program's category prior to creating and presenting a graphical user interface containing program information sorted by category. Similarly, the advertisement management application 225 may use EAI data stored in an EAI database 228 to select and present an advertisement based on a desired advertisement category previously selected by a user. It should be clear to one with ordinary skill in the art that these applications are not limiting and merely serve as examples for an embodiment of the invention. Furthermore, one or more DRAM based applications may, as an alternative embodiment, be resident in flash memory 230. These applications, and others provided by a television services system operator, are software entities for providing services to the user.
A broadcast file system (BFS) client 237 has a counterpart BFS server module (not shown) located at the headend 110. The BFS server repeatedly sends data that is received by the BFS client 237 and stored in DRAM 220. The data is sent on a data carousel over a period of time in cyclical repeated manner so that applications on a DHCT 200 can use the data as needed. For example, a BFS server may repeatedly send current IPG data and/or IPG data updates so that an IPG application 224 is able to provide a user with current television program listings. Likewise, a BFS server may repeatedly send current EAI data and/or EAI data updates so that advertisement management application 225 is able to present a user with updated and current advertisement information. The DHCT 200 may receive EAI data via an out-of-band channel or an in-band channel. Furthermore, EAI data may be received by the DHCT 200 as MPEG private data in an MPEG transport stream.
Advertisement management application 225 receives a plurality of media types that serve as television advertisements. Among others, a first type of advertisement comprises graphical and/or textual information that is overlaid on a displayed video picture. A second type of advertisement comprises video data that is displayed in a full-screen format or in a downscaled video window. A third type of advertisement comprises audio data. A fourth type of advertisement comprises a combination of graphical, textual, audio, and/or video data.
A television advertisement may be packaged into a file and may be delivered to DHCT 200 via the BFS delivery mechanism. An advertisement that is received by a DHCT 200 may either be displayed immediately upon receipt or may be stored in the advertisement storage unit 295 for presentation at a later time. In one embodiment of the invention, a DHCT 200 receives an advertisement file that is broadcast by the BFS regardless of whether the advertisement corresponds to a user preference. In an alternative embodiment, a DHCT 200 only receives advertisement files that correspond to a user preference. For instance, subscribers that have indicated via preferences identified by the advertisement preference settings 229 that they wish to receive and view advertisements related to baby products, may receive BFS files corresponding to baby product advertisements whereas other subscribers may not. Advertisement preference settings 229 are preferably stored in DRAM 220, but may also be stored in non-volatile memory so that they may be retrieved in case of a power outage. The non-volatile memory may be flash memory 230 or memory that is external to the DHCT 200 such as, for example, the headend 110 or a storage device (not shown) that is coupled to the DHCT 200. Advertisement management application 225 interprets advertisement preferential settings stored in DRAM 220 and, in communication with BFS client 237, effects the opening of desired advertisement files on a periodic basis. Each advertisement category may be assigned a respective sub-directory. A DHCT 200 may open an advertisement category's sub-directory upon receiving a message from the headend 110 that an update to the advertisement category has occurred.
In one implementation, applications executing on the DHCT 200 work with the navigator 236 by abiding by several guidelines. First, an application utilizes the SAM client 232 for the provision, activation, and suspension of services and service enhancements. Second, an application shares DHCT 200 resources with other applications and abides by the resource management policies of the SAM client 232, the operating system 234, and the DHCT 200. Third, an application conforms to situations where shared resources are only accessible via the navigator 236. Fourth, when an application loses service authorization while providing a service, the application suspends the service via the SAM client 232 (the navigator 236 will reactivate an individual service application when it later becomes authorized). Finally, an application client is designed to not have access to certain user input keys reserved by the navigator 236 (e.g., power, channel +/−, volume +/−, etc.).
Data and software used in providing a DHCT service to a user may be stored in one or more of the following memory resources: a data storage device located at a headend, a data storage device located at a customer premises, a non-volatile memory internal to the DHCT 200, and/or a hard drive internal to the DHCT 200. For example, an executable program or algorithm corresponding to an operating system (OS) component, or to a client platform component, or to a client application (e.g. IPG application 224), or to respective parts thereof, may reside in and/or execute out of DRAM 220 and/or flash memory 230, or may reside in a local storage device connected to DHCT 200 and may be transferred into DRAM 220 for execution. Likewise, data input for an executable program or algorithm may reside in DRAM 220 or in flash memory 230, or may reside in a local storage device connected to the DHCT 200 and may be transferred into DRAM 220 for use by an executable program or algorithm. In addition, data output by an executable program or algorithm may be written into DRAM 220 by the executable program or algorithm and may be transferred to flash memory 230 or to a local storage device for storage purposes. It should be noted, however, that the present invention is not limited by where or how any data and/or applications are stored or retrieved.
Each of the above mentioned applications comprises executable instructions for implementing logical functions and can be embodied in any computer-readable medium for use by or in connection with an instruction execution system, apparatus, or device, such as a computer-based system, processor-containing system, or other system that can fetch and execute the instructions. In the context of this document, a “computer-readable medium” can be any means that can contain, store, communicate, propagate, or transport the program for use by or in connection with the instruction execution system, apparatus, or device. The computer readable medium can be, for example but not limited to, an electronic, magnetic, optical, electromagnetic, infrared, or semiconductor system, apparatus, device, or propagation medium. More specific examples (a non-exhaustive list) of the computer-readable medium would include the following: an electrical connection (electronic) having one or more wires, a portable computer diskette (magnetic), a random access memory (RAM) (electronic), a read-only memory (ROM) (electronic), an erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM or Flash memory) (electronic), an optical fiber (optical), and a portable compact disc read-only memory (CDROM) (optical). Note that the computer-readable medium could even be paper or another suitable medium upon which the program is printed, as the program can be electronically captured, via for instance optical scanning of the paper or other medium, then compiled, interpreted or otherwise processed in a suitable manner, and then stored in a computer memory.
In an alternative embodiment of the invention, different and/or additional systems and methods of providing user input may be used including, for example, a remote control device having different keys and/or key layouts, a keyboard device, a mouse, a voice activated input system, a touch-screen display, etc. The invention described herein is not limited by the type of device used to provide user input.
After the DHCT 200 determines whether an advertisement has been or is being viewed, then the DHCT 200 in step 903 updates an advertisement tracking database accordingly. The advertising tracking database keeps track of the number, value, type and/or identity of the advertisements that were viewed by a household, and may be used to determine which advertisements to present to a user. For example, if an advertisement is viewed more than a certain number of times by a certain household, then it would no longer be presented by a DHCT 200 to that household.
Steps or blocks shown in each of the flow charts illustrated in
It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the functionality provided by each of the flow charts illustrated in
Further, the functionality provided by each of the flow charts illustrated in
It should be emphasized that the above-described embodiments of the present invention, particularly any “preferred embodiments”, are merely possible examples, among others, of the implementations, setting forth a clear understanding of the principles of the invention. Many variations and modifications may be made to the above-described embodiments of the invention without departing substantially from the principles of the invention. All such modifications and variations are intended to be included herein within the scope of the disclosure and present invention and protected by the following claims. In addition, the scope of the present invention includes embodying the functionality of the preferred embodiments of the present invention in logic embodied in hardware and/or software-configured mediums.