In one of the strongest signs yet that Madison Avenue is preparing for a major shift in the way it targets, buys and serves ads to TV viewers, WPP’s GroupM unit this morning unveiled a new division focusing on accelerating addressable and advanced TV audience targeting. The new unit, dubbed Modi Media, will be headed by GroupM Director of Emerging Communications Michael Bologna, who will serve as its president.
Bologna, who reports to GroupM North America CEO Kelly Clark, will continue to oversee GroupM’s emerging communications initiatives as part of his new role, will focus on developing “innovative” ways of targeting TV viewers via “data-fused, addressable media.”
The move couldn’t come at a better time in terms of market activity, with at least a dozen major players all vying to bring the concept of “audience-buying” from online to TV. Audience-buying is a philosophical shift coined by Madison Avenue to describe the shift from buying media as a proxy for consumer audiences to one where agencies utilize data and discrete ad-targeting capabilities to buy the explicit audiences of media.
The TV industry has had a long road of fits and false-starts with so-called enhanced TV advertising platforms that would enable both addressability, as well as “interactive” advertising experiences, but thanks to the development of new technologies and the availability of new sources of data, TV audience targeting is finally taking off, and GroupM says its new Modi Media unit will be the centerpiece for its activity
“We are preparing for a world of media consumption and advertising message delivery that is radically different from what we see today,” GroupM’s Clark stated in the announcement make early this morning. Clark said Modi will focus on four primary areas, including:
* “Digital content distribution of TV programming over “connected device” platforms such as iTunes, Xbox, Amazon and Vudu.
* Addressable TV through the cable and satellite TV industry’s addressable advertising infrastructure.
* “Hyper-local” TV opportunities enabling advertisers to target TV commercials to specific zones or zip codes based on geographic skews, sales data, trading areas, etc.
* Interactive TV, which is a catch-all description for TV advertising experiences enabling consumers to interact directly with program content or advertising.
GroupM coincidentally has been an important strategic investor in Invidi Technologies, a company that owns the primary patents for, and has developed the software enabling most of the addressable TV advertising infrastructure in the U.S. and Canada.
Invidi recently settled a patent infringement suit with another addressable TV advertising developer, Visible World. While the terms of the settlement have not been made public. Visible World CEO Seth Haberman said it enables Visible World to continue doing business in the addressable TV industry.
Invidi CEO David Downey said the settlement only permits Visible World to continue developing addressable TV advertising campaigns with Cablevision Systems, which was a party to the original patent infringement suit. However, as a result of the settlement, Downey said Invidi is also working directly with Cablevision to deploy its addressable TV advertising solutions to the cable operators subscribers.