Madison Ave To TV Biz: Track Or Die

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March 9, 2011 – 6:01 am

Target Or DieAs addressable TV moves from the dream stage to reality, broadcast, cable and satellite companies are finally having to come to grips with the hard choices. As a long overview of the TV ad tracking space by the WSJ’s Jessica Vascellaro over the weekend featured a blunt warning from veteran Publicis Groupe video expert Tracey Scheppach: if the TV business doesn’t get its act together, it could face the same spiral of decline that has gripped newspaper publishers.

Still, Simulmedia CEO Dave Morgan, whose startup ties databases that detail when channels are changed on set-top boxes, says that the kind of precision targeting online offers is a long way off.  Helpfully, Bank of America has estimated that the market for addressable ads those targeted to specific household segments could hit $11.6 billion by 2015 – less than half the $26 billion currently flowing to online ads in general, but definitely meaningful to a burgeoning business.

The article serves as a pretty good primer for where do things stand in terms of the race to target households through their set-top boxes. Right now, Cablevision appears to be  farthest ahead of the pack of major MSOs, but Comcast, which spearheaded the formation of Canoe Ventures, the cable industry ad targeting consortium about three years ago, is certainly catching up.

On the regulatory front, TV has some advantages and disadvantages compared to online. While the online ad industry is still only facing the threat of specific legislation – and the uncertainty surrounding it, cable and satellite companies are already prevented from sharing names and addresses of subscribers without explicit authorization under the 1984 Cable Act and a related rule for satellite TV, reducing a major part of the paranoia that has spread about Internet.

By James Bailey


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March 9, 2011 – 6:01 am

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