Bell Fibes out at TIFF

The telco-turned-mediaco unveils its new Fibe IPTV service in the swanky new TIFF Bell Lightbox; with TV over the internet arrived, are choose-your-own-ads far behind? Cossette's Nick Barbuto weighs in.

After the ribbon-cutting glamour of the official opening of the TIFF Bell Lightbox Sunday evening, Bell took advantage of its high brand profile to keep the ‘official launch’ theme going with the media debut of its new Fibe IPTV service.

The Fibe IPTV service, which delivers TV via fibre-optic internet, has been slowly and strategically rolled out in neighbourhoods of major cities across Canada this year. On Monday, Bell execs Kevin Crull, president, residential services, and Shawn Omstead, VP product management, walked media through the new service, showing off its flashy PVR/IPG and, interestingly, social media-capable programming interface.

In an interview following the event, Crull said the technology has interesting potential for advertisers, including the ability to deliver different advertisements to different homes, or even different rooms of the same house. The Microsoft Mediaroom technology is currently in development and is expected to debut in the US next year. A Canadian rollout is likely two years off, Crull said.

The Fibe interface seems ripe for advertising – as discussed in a session from mediaco ES3 at Crossmedia T.O. this year – but platform advertising or branding won’t be a part of Fibe in the near future, Crull said, noting, however, that the company does recognize the potential.

‘We do think of all of our screens as real estate,’ he said.

The potential for ads targeted to homes or individuals is an exciting prospect from a media standpoint, Nick Barbuto, VP digital, Cossette Media, says.

‘It has the potential to be that intersection point between web-based data and one of the most powerful media ever known to advertisers [TV],’ Barbuto says. ‘I think that’s really cool – to be able to target someone who has been on an automotive site within the last seven days with a TV commercial is quite powerful.’

The social media functionality could mean even more personalized targeting, he says, with the possibility of one person watching TV upstairs, passively logged into Facebook and seeing ads that correlate to their preferences on TV, while others are downstairs seeing completely different ads via their set-top box. And if adoption of IPTV became widespread, he continues, you could even see broadcast buying shifting to dynamic market pricing, like search advertising on the web.

The Fibe IPTV launch event took place in a Bell-blue branded room in the TIFF Bell Lightbox, which is the centrepiece of the telco’s sponsorship of TIFF, which it has been a lead sponsor of since 2005.

Bell branding can be seen all over the downtown core this week, with its big ‘steel cubes’ featuring back-to-back LED screens showing movies at Metro Square at Metro Hall on John Street and in Yonge-Dundas Square. The brand also did a TIFF-time media buy that includes radio (30-second spots and 10-second tags during CHUM FM Entertainment Reports), print insertions in Metro Toronto, the Toronto Star‘s ‘TIFF Bell Lightbox special edition,’ the Globe and Mail in Toronto, 24 Hours Toronto, Eye Weekly and Now Magazine. There is also digital OOH on subway screens and on digital screens at Yonge-Dundas Square. Media was handled by Cossette, while creative was handled by Zulu.

The brand’s sponsorship also includes Bell creative on 50,000 ticket jackets, Bell promos at gala and special presentation films, Bell signage at ticket box offices, screening program guide ads and client hosting (and seat branding) at Roy Thompson Hall.