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Comcast, Starcom Gear Up for Baltimore Addressability Test

Sep 14, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Comcast Spotlight, the advertising division of Comcast Cable, and media agency network Starcom Mediavest Group will launch the next stage of a trial to test addressable advertising in Baltimore later this year.
This follows hot on the heels of an initial technical trial in Huntsville, Ala., begun in December 2006, that delivered thousands of ads across eight cable networks to different anonymous groups of households based on characteristics chosen by the advertisers.
“It’s further than ZIP codes,” said Jen Soch, VP/activation director, advanced TV at Mediavest. “This is a helpful level. With pet ownership, you can get down in the hundreds of households, for example.”
Until now, marketing information has been limited to Designated Market Areas or zones within a DMA. AdTag enables the advertiser to change out the “tag” on the last five or 10 seconds based on geographic information to be relevant to, say, a local auto dealer. AdCopy, another market segmentation tool, enables different ads to run simultaneously based on ethnic or demographic information.
Hitting the Target
But if the idea is to deliver pet food ads only to homes with pets, how do advertisers find those homes?
The answer is addressability, the linchpin of advanced advertising initiatives from VOD to interactivity.
Using Open TV’s Spot On technology, which provides second-by-second set-top box (STB) data, Comcast Spotlight and Starcom were able to “seamlessly switch video to aggregate groups.”
“We found 56% more efficiency through the STB than a traditional ad in a traditional cable marketplace,” Ms. Soch said. “The results showed that households served targeted ads in commercial breaks were less likely to change channels, tuning away 38% less of the time than homes that received non-addressable advertising.”
Gathering Data
Finding the data necessary to aggregate households at a more granular level is part of the solution. Tracy Scheppach, senior VP/director of video innovations at Starcom, said her company has started to do just that, working with Charter in the Los Angeles marketplace.
“We received data from 320,000 homes,” she said. “There is a major movement on the power of the digital data coming out of digital cable homes that can help make TV more measurable, more relevant, more valuable.”
Privacy concerns have arisen, however, and Bill Reynolds, director of media services at Erwin-Penland, a Hill Holliday agency, noted that consumer wariness has already proven to be a stumbling block for addressability. “The positive side is that, theoretically, you wouldn’t see ads not relevant to you,” he said. “The negative side is the Big Brother aspect of advertisers knowing so much about you. I think consumers don’t trust advertisers to use this info for their benefit.”
Addressability is coming, said Mr. Reynolds, but not as quickly as was predicted even five years ago.
Andrew Capone, senior VP of marketing and business development at spot cable firm National Cable Communications, agreed. “We’re absolutely moving toward this,” Mr. Capone said. “The tectonic plates are shifting. It’s not always visible to the human eye, but it’s changing. It’s time, money and rollout to get there.”

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