Cycling Through The Right And Wrong Reasons For Addressable Advertising

We were watching a time-shifted episode of TNT's "Major Crimes" the other night. A commercial break popped up and my wife quickly hit the fast-forward button because -- what can I say -- that is our "consumer behavior." Adjust accordingly.

Still, fleeting images caught my eye of your normal prime-time advertisers like automotive and mobile phone services. Then I saw one commercial seemingly out of place: the image of the celebrated and sometime controversial road cycling champion, Alberto Contador, who had just won the Vuelta a Espana, one of the grand tour three-week bike races. Contador, a multiple Tour de France winner, was back from a drug suspension.

"Wait a second," I said to my wife. Why was this athlete from a relatively niche sport in the U.S., with a male-target audience, being used in a commercial for cable TV drama -- a show that, for the most part, targets older women?

Turns out it was an ad for DirecTV touting its Sports Pack network package. Why was in on? Perhaps some sort of “dynamic ad insertion”? Maybe a marketer had figured out someone in our family follows cycling. Maybe it was just luck.



The marketing effort was right -- and wrong. Yes, there is someone in our household who watches cycling. Trouble is, we already get the Universal Sports network, one of the networks touted in the DirecTV package that airs lots of cycling.

Much has been made of addressable TV advertising -- the holy grail of finding the right consumer at the right time for the right reasons.

Yet, you have to wonder if, when and if this truly happens, how difficult it will be to get all the changing audience factors aligned. Sending a pet food ad to a dog or cat owner? That makes sense. But what if you have already bought a yearlong special needs pet food service?

You can see how digital/Internet markets would be the first to say: "Wait. We have a better solution. We have better purchasing and searching online data."

In a column for, media/marketing executive Thomas Morgan wrote, "Consumers might say they hate advertising, but what they really mean is they are frustrated with the amount and relevance of the current broadcast TV ad model." Morgan says dynamic ad insertion could turn Nielsen-based traditional commercial inventory system into a "personal inventory."

Right now even the best of new advertising efforts can't get all the cable operators on the same page, when it comes to set-top technology and software for the future of addressable advertising.

Even with improved research and data, there seems to be many more frustrations to come -- even for barely seen TV commercials, the ones viewers fast-forward through.


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