March 14, 2011 – 1:54 pm
Given the glacial process that it has taken to get any addressable TV initiatives off the ground, it's easy to be skeptical that last week's deal between Cablevision and WPP's GroupM to serve simultaneously targeted ads to viewers will actually represent real change. But the fact that the deal got done at all shows the pent up demand for addressable TV and the willingness of marketers to put real money behind targeted campaigns.
When Comcast got the other major MSOs together a couple of years ago to jumpstart Canoe Ventures, a joint venture that was conceived to make addressable TV simple for advertisers and cable systems alike, it suggested that individual efforts would only create more confusion and fragmentation. But conflicts among members over how far and fast to go only hobbled Canoe's initial efforts. It's lately been focusing mostly on a lead generation product it unveiled over a year ago.
So with the a joint project tangled up, Cablevision began plunging ahead on its own, as did Comcast and Time Warner Cable. In the fall of '09, Cablevision, which is still mainly concentrated in the New York tri-state area, created a program called Optimum Select, will which immediately cover its 3 million subs. For the marketers who bought the premium-priced ads, Cablevision viewers will be able to use their remote to click on a “banner” that will provide more info about the product. It also gave viewers the option of making a direct purchase or receiving a sample. Since Cablevision has viewers’ addresses, it was able handle the orders itself -- all without having to share the data with its other Canoe partners.
As Cablevision built its interactive ad program last year, the GroupM deal represents a vote of confidence in those efforts. It's also going to attract other major media agencies to the effort, lending even more credibility to its work. Indirectly, the deal also confers additional faith in Visible World, the tech company powering the Cablevision interactive offering.
Change only occurs in the ad industry when major marketers dig deep into their pockets and signal a desire for it. Cablevision and GroupM didn't discuss the names of the advertisers behind the program, but if it makes the smallest achievement, it will become widely known. From there, rival marketers and agencies will try to figure out how to take it one step further. When the subject of addressable TV is raised at industry conferences, the typical phrase of "earlier days" is invoked. The agreement between Cablevision and WPP doesn't mean a sea change yet. But it does mean that the "early days" appear a little more seasoned and a little less "early."
By James Bailey
March 14, 2011 – 1:54 pm