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Invidi Zeros In on Addressable Ads

Mar 14, 2005  •  Post A Comment

As advertisers look for ways to ensure their advertising reaches the right audience, Invidi is taking the wraps off new technology that promises to deliver ads specifically to the viewers advertisers want. Known as addressable advertising, it goes beyond the zoned targeting that many cable operators offer today.

Invidi’s Advatar technology allows a cable operator to insert multiple commercials during a single break, which means the system can swap out ads based on who’s watching the show.

Invidi does this in real time before a commercial even airs by essentially polling all the set-top boxes in the field and determining where precisely it can find the likely audience composition the advertiser wants. If an advertiser wants to purchase 50,000 impressions for viewers 18 to 34 in New York over a 13-week period, the Invidi system will deliver those viewers across a number of channels.

“You can reach out and find the viewers you want across a multiplicity of channels,” said David Downey, president and CEO of Invidi. “We have the unique ability to target to the individual TV set and to aggregate audiences across multiple channels.” Such targeting makes sense for local advertisers, but Invidi also allows national advertisers to fine-tune their reach to their specific audience.

Invidi is a Princeton, N.J.-based company that just closed on a round of $16 million in equity financing on top of the $12 million it raised last year. The company has begun talking to cable operators including Time Warner and Cox about offering Advatar functionality in their Scientific-Atlanta set-top boxes. That’s because the technology has been tested with S-A and can be downloaded overnight by a cable operator into a system. Invidi also has begun testing with Motorola’s boxes.

Mr. Downey said he has talked to several large advertisers, including marketers in the automotive and packaged goods categories, who plan to participate when the technology is in the field. That could happen as early as this year.

The company has some heavy hitters on its advisory board. Invidi’s board includes Rick Sirvaitis, president and CEO, GM Mediaworks; David Verklin, president and CEO, Carat Americas; Burt Manning, American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame member and chairman emeritus of J. Walter Thompson Worldwide; and Michael Kubin, a former senior executive at Initiative Media. Carat’s involvement has included convening focus groups composed of its local media buyers, planners and account executives to discuss the feasibility of the Invidi model.

Invidi isn’t alone in the addressable space. Navic Networks has its technology deployed in more than 20 cable systems, primarily Cox and Time Warner, reaching nearly 3 million digital subscribers. The local system can sell ads based on Navic technology, which creates an overlay allowing a viewer to request more information from the ad. Navic also enables telescoping, or linking a short linear ad to a longer-form ad in the video-on-demand section. The company plans to introduce more advanced features into its telescoping late this year, Navic CEO Frank Anthony said.