In the mid-'80s a friend of mine, Josh Mayberry, was hired by RKO Radio to head up their national radio sales effort. Within a few months he discovered that the prior sales hierarchy had double-booked all of the radio spots. He spent the next two years trying to untangle the illicit web they had woven. Spots that advertisers paid for didn't run. Or did they. Ultimately, the network was forced to reimburse any advertiser or agency that challenged for proof of exposure.
By the early nineties, the niche-genred cable networks (MTV, CNN, ESPN, Discovery, A&E, TBS) had ascended from inexpensive eyeballs growing in national penetration to sought-after contextual environments offering unique demographics. Business boomed. However, cable network trafficking systems were overwhelmed. Part of the problem was that the allocation systems were gerrymandered from TV broadcasting systems and therefore were not created to handle the 24/7 load that a cabler engulfed. Upwards of 20% of the purchased schedules didn't run due to misallocation and overbooking.
Last month, representatives from two companies and a trade organization knocked on my door: Eloda, Nielsen's KeepingTrac and the 4A's Ad-ID initiative. Each independently asked how I knew that my clients' TV commercials were airing. Each queried: how could an industry garnering $70 billion in ad revenue rely on outdated and inaccurate methods, including monitoring services, spot checks, manual verification and station affidavits, for ascertaining delivery. I said I didn't care. Try two doors down. I'm an interactive TV specialist. Another department's responsibility.
Then it occurred to me. As addressable TV advertising applications are deployed through technologists like Invidi, Navic, OpenTV, Visible World and possibly a white labeled variety from Canoe Ventures and/or NCC, how will advertisers know if their spots ran and were delivered to the appropriate targeted household -- and eventually individual TV PINS -- unless there is absolute confidence in ownership of the original commercial slot, whether it be a national commercial sold by broadcast and cable networks, or local inventory managed by TV stations/digital terrestrialists, and individual cable systems.