How AT&T Could Deliver Interactive Ads to DirecTV, U-verse and OTT Subs

AT&T details in a patent published on Tuesday how it could trigger interactive advertising overlays by embedding code in content displayed on conntected TVs and mobile devices.

The invention, which would allow subscribers to receive coupons through mobile devices and set-tops, is something that AT&T could use to drive advanced advertising revenue through DirecTV, U-verse TV and multichannel video services delivered over the top of its broadband rivals.

“An analog or digital cable broadcast distribution system such as cable TV system can be overlaid, operably coupled with, or replace the IPTV system and/or the satellite TV system … In this embodiment, the cable TV system can also provide Internet, telephony, and interactive media services,” AT&T states in the patent. One approach featured in the patent would be to embed code in closed-captioning feeds that could be used to trigger interactive advertising overlays.

Paul Di Bernardo
Di Bernardo

Paul Di Bernardo, AT&T Growth Platforms lead product business marketing manager for cloud strategy and innovation, is named as lead inventor on the patent. AT&T filed the application in October 2014.

Abstract: Aspects of the subject disclosure may include, for example, a method in which a media processor identifies a first key and a second key associated with media content received over a network, and prepares a display object according to the first key that includes a selectable object. The media processor transmits a request to a remote server including the second key; the server returns first additional content and control code associated with the second key. The media processor merges the first additional content with the display object to produce an overlay for presentation with the media content in accordance with the control code. The overlay is associated with a provider of the first additional content; the first key is independent of the provider, and the second key corresponds to the provider. Other embodiments are disclosed.

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Claims: 

1. A machine-readable storage device comprising instructions which, when executed by a processor, cause the processor to perform operations comprising: receiving video content for display on a display device; identifying a key provided in the video content, the key including a first key portion and a second key portion; preparing a display object based on image information, in accordance with the first key portion; transmitting a request to a remote content server in accordance with the second key portion; receiving, in response to the request, first additional content and a control code from the content server; merging the first additional content with the display object to produce an overlay for display with the video content on the display device in accordance with the control code, wherein the overlay includes a selectable object; causing display of the overlay at the display device; and in response to an input corresponding to selection of the selectable object, causing display of second additional content at the display device, wherein the image information corresponds to a plurality of images, wherein the overlay is associated with a provider of the first additional content, wherein the first key portion is independent of an identity of the provider, and wherein the second key portion corresponds to the identity of the provider.

2. The machine-readable storage device of claim 1, wherein the video content comprises an advertisement of an advertiser and a closed captioning line associated with the advertisement, and wherein the key is provided on the closed captioning line.

3. The machine-readable storage device of claim 2, wherein the first additional content includes a text message, and wherein the control code specifies a location on the display of the overlay, the text message, the selectable object, a graphic object identifying the advertiser, or any combination thereof.

4. The machine-readable storage device of claim 1, wherein the first additional content comprises a uniform resource locator for accessing the second additional content, and wherein the merging further comprises associating the selectable object with the uniform resource locator.

5. The machine-readable storage device of claim 1, wherein the video content comprises live content with a closed captioned portion having a closed captioning line including the key.

6. The machine-readable storage device of claim 1, wherein the display object comprises a background of the overlay and the selectable object.

7. The machine-readable storage device of claim 1, wherein the video content comprises a sequence of a plurality of frames, wherein the identifying comprises identifying the key associated with a first frame of the plurality of frames, and wherein the overlay is produced for display on the first frame of the plurality of frames.

8. The machine-readable storage device of claim 7, wherein the operations further comprise: displaying on a subsequent second frame of the plurality of frames the overlay produced for display on the first frame of the plurality of frames, in accordance with the second frame of the plurality of frames having the key associated therewith or in accordance with the control code.

9. A media processor comprising: a memory to store instructions; and a controller coupled to the memory, wherein responsive to executing the instructions, the controller performs operations comprising: receiving media content over a network for display on a display device; identifying a key associated with the media content, the key including a first key portion and a second key portion; preparing a display object in accordance with the first key portion, the display object including a selectable object; transmitting a request to a remote content server, the request including the second key portion; receiving, in response to the request, first additional content and display control code; merging the first additional content with the display object to produce an overlay for display with the media content on the display device in accordance with the display control code; causing display of the overlay at the display device; and in response to an input corresponding to selection of the selectable object, causing display of second additional content at the display device, wherein the overlay is associated with a provider of the first additional content, wherein the first key portion is independent of an identity of the provider, and wherein the second key portion corresponds to the identity of the provider.

10. The media processor of claim 9, wherein the media content comprises an advertisement of an advertiser and a closed captioning line associated with the advertisement, and wherein the first key portion and the second key portion are provided on the closed captioning line.

11. The media processor of claim 10, wherein the first additional content includes a text message, and wherein the control code specifies a location on the display of the overlay, the text message, the selectable object, a graphic object identifying the advertiser, or any combination thereof.

12. The media processor of claim 9, wherein the first additional content comprises a uniform resource locator for accessing the second additional content, and wherein the merging further comprises associating the selectable object with the uniform resource locator.

13. The media processor of claim 9, wherein the media content comprises live content with a closed captioned portion including the key.

14. The media processor of claim 9, wherein the media content comprises a sequence of a plurality of frames, and wherein the operations further comprise causing display of the overlay on successive frames.

15. A method comprising: receiving, by a media processor comprising a controller, media content over a network for presentation on a media presentation device coupled to the media processor; identifying, by the media processor, a key associated with the media content, the key including a first key portion and a second key portion; preparing, by the media processor, a display object in accordance with the first key portion, the display object including a selectable object; transmitting, by the media processor a request to a remote computing device, the request including the second key portion; receiving, by the media processor in response to the request, first additional content and control code associated with the second key portion; merging, by the media processor, the first additional content with the display object to produce an overlay for presentation with the media content on the media presentation device in accordance with the control code; and causing, by the media processor, presentation of the overlay at the media presentation device, wherein the overlay is associated with a provider of the first additional content, wherein the first key portion is independent of an identity of the provider, and wherein the second key portion corresponds to the identity of the provider.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising causing display of second additional content at the media presentation device, in response to receiving an input corresponding to selection of the selectable object.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the first additional content comprises a uniform resource locator for accessing the second additional content, and wherein the merging further comprises associating the selectable object with the uniform resource locator.

18. The method of claim 15, wherein the media content comprises an advertisement of an advertiser and a closed captioning line associated with the advertisement, and wherein the key is provided on the closed captioning line.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the first additional content includes a text message, and wherein the control code specifies a location of the overlay on a display of the media presentation device, the text message, the selectable object, a graphic object identifying the advertiser, or any combination thereof.

20. The method of claim 15, wherein the media content comprises live video content with a closed captioned portion including key.