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ACTV Gathers Partners for International Interactive TV Ads

Interactive TV company ACTV , and its Digital ADCO subsidiary, have joined forces with OpenTV and Motorola Broadband to globally deploy its targeted interactive advertising service, which segregates viewers and targets advertising according to spending power.

The "SpotOn" service will be available to digital cable, satellite, and broadcast television providers through a newly-formed joint venture called Digital ADCO International. SpotOn allows television viewers to choose and interact with advertisements, and targets ads to the people thought to be most likely to respond to them.

"The key to spending most effectively on advertising is to target people who are most interested in a product," said William Samuels, president and chief executive officer of ACTV.

OpenTV has funneled an undisclosed investment into ACTV to assist the company in integrating its back-end advertising software application into OpenTV's operating system. OpenTV said it has an installed base of more than 7.8 million digital set-top boxes worldwide.

When ACTV created its Digital ADCO subsidiary in late 1999, with the help of Motorola Broadband, the company said it intended to change traditional television advertising using Motorola's digital interactive platform. Dealmakers said the new partnership should enable the subsidiary to launch a bumped-up targeted advertising model that is based on demographic or household specific-profiles.

"The ads will be permission based," said Samuels. "We will show ads that would most likely be of interest to the people who live in a specific area. We can bring a bigger percentage to an advertiser by showing ads of interest to viewers."

As part of the arrangement with cable companies and the like, Samuels said consumers will be able to swipe a credit card, place an order for some products and have the item delivered to their home.

Samuels said his company's main objective in partnering with OpenTV and Motorola was too ensure his company's technology was driven to market as quickly and efficiently as possible.

"Forming strategic partnerships, like this one, will help to accelerate the introduction of SpotOn to millions of people throughout the world," said Samuels. "We believe this relationship creates broad opportunities for the future of digital interactive TV in general that may go beyond the realm of advertising."

The software promises to offer commerce opportunities like couponing and permission based marketing initiatives. Among other things the software enables viewers to choose television spots of interest to them and provides for local advertising insertions that give advertisers tagging capabilities for individual home boxes. For example, rather than show just one car commercial the technology enables viewers to choose from several to view. On the other hand, a person cannot choose to opt out of commercials altogether.

"You still have to switch out," said Samuels.

So far OpenTV has worked with 28 television network operators in over 50 countries, including: British Sky Broadcasting in the United Kingdom; TPS and Cable Lyonnaise in France; PrimaCom in Germany; Via Digital in Spain; Galaxy Latin America, the exclusive provider of DirecTV in Latin America; and EchoStar's DISH Network in the U.S.

"OpenTV's presence in eight million homes outside the U.S. brings people to us in areas where we haven't even commenced operations yet," said Samuels.