Big Internet companies might now look at the cable industry and its mostly failed Canoe Ventures and say, "Not all that easy, is it?"
Over the past several years, media agency executives put a lot of promise into cable’s addressable advertising efforts -- and much more promise into cable than into the Internet when it came to premium TV efforts.
Why? A strong belief was that, unlike with the Internet, cable offered more easily accessible big time scale to send, say, Purina commercials to pet owners or Yamaha commercials to motorcycle owners.
Canoe Ventures issued a statement that it had responded to the "marketplace." Was that the marketplace where not every cable network wanted to give up inventory for addressable ads? Or the marketplace where major issues still existed in getting all the multiple-system cable operators to work out their technical problems due to different set-top boxes?
Could it have been the marketplace where major advertisers wanted different things -- with different metrics? (A lot of this could be said of Internet platforms and publishers as well, where different metrics and varying opinions about research standards seem to be at issue.)
What happens now? TV-oriented media and marketing executives can only put so much money into the likes of separate premium video sites like Hulu, and into video-enabled social media efforts.
While digital is growing, the greater piece of overall consumer media behavior till resides around the big video screen in the evening hours.
Can a Canoe Ventures-like effort be saved? Incentives could work. But not until cable operators really need addressable ads. Unlike with many Internet platforms, cable operators have never been that interested in boosting their local advertising businesses -- especially now that big consumer revenues are still coming in for triple-play packages of phone, video and Internet.
If anything, cable operators have long coveted a bigger video-on-demand business -- an effort the big cable company owners of the now smaller Canoe Ventures promise to continue. That makes sense, because cable companies have greater vested interests in their owned VOD services.
In the end, addressable advertising on a large scale now has too many different entities -- cable operators, cable networks, and advertisers -- pulling in different directions for their own interests.
A simpler formula with fewer parties -- perhaps one network and one big media agency holding company -- might be able to slowly work through the technical issues. Then, if successful, the formula would get the attention of other parties. But that's a big “if.”