Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV, more commonly known as HbbTV, is the modern day’s incarnation of teletext. It seamlessly blends video broadcast content with interactive, consumer-facing content and programmatic advertising, bridging the gap between linear TV and digital streaming platforms.

Naturally, HbbTV is much more advanced than teletext – it can integrate mobile devices as second screens, display high-res images and text, and implement more interactive, targeted advertising tactics. In this article, we look at the possibilities of HbbTV for broadcasters and advertisers.


HbbTV for broadcasters

HbbTV allows broadcasters to add powerful features to traditional, linear TV programming. This is especially important in particular countries where linear TV is still popular but needs to catch up with digital advertising and targeting opportunities. Among other things, it also allows operators to use advanced services and serve linear channels over IP.


A way to compete with streaming content providers

While it would be too early to announce the demise of traditional TV, with unrelenting competition from global streaming giants like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon, linear broadcasters must find ways to improve and spice up their offering. There has been an ongoing shift from linear to OTT, but there are countries where linear broadcasting still accounts for 80% of viewing time.


The “Red Button” content

When a TV supports HbbTV and the broadcaster offers a broadcast-related application, there will be a special overlay with a “call-to-action”, i.e. the trademark HbbTV red button displayed on the screen. This informs the viewer that an app is available for the content currently seen on the screen. When the red button is pressed on the remote, the app will launch on the TV screen.


The so-called companion app may provide extra information – e.g. relevant sports statistics when watching a sports broadcast, or a program guide with the option to switch channels. Alternatively, it could also be a handy menu offering access to additional video programming.


This HbbTV feature could be utilized to implement quizzes where the viewer plays against other viewers. The user can use a variety of buttons on the remote to interact with the app – the coloured buttons, the cursor buttons, and the numbered buttons. 


With the version 2 release, HbbTV also supports interaction through a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet.


HbbTV ad for the Volvo V60 car allows the user to interact, and submit a contact form.

Watch HbbTV add >


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.


Content discovery in action: HbbTV is increasingly being used to create content discovery services such as catch-up TV, video-on-demand applications and hybrid solutions. These applications help broadcasters link linear TV to on-demand services.

Watch HbbTV add >


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.