Commentary

TV's Addressable Future Is Closer Than You Think

I hate to waste things.  I hate wasting time,  and I despise wasting money.  As an old media guy, I also hate wasting budget, which is why addressable media is so exciting to me.  I love being efficient and getting things done, and I love when you can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that you’ve spent your media dollars in the most effective way possible.  Pretty soon, I think within five years, I’ll be able to say that I LOVE TV advertising.

I write a lot about the inevitability of addressable media taking over the world of television. I’m now more positive of this than ever, because there are multiple ways this future will be realized, far simpler and closer than you think. Surely there are people far smarter than me working on this exact challenge right now.

The big challenge in addressability is the capability to identify your audience. The television as it is today is a dumb device, regardless of what Samsung, Vizio and the other manufacturers would like to say. As it stands now, the TV may provide access to lots of cool apps beyond standard channels, but the device is one-way, meaning it can only push content out. The audience selects that content and the TV never actually learns anything, because it is not a two-way device, meaning it cannot read the room. That is about to change.

I see a very near future where there are multiple ways the TV will become a two-way device and will start recognizing the audience.

Manual Audience Log-In

This is the first and simplest way to identify the audience, requiring users to log in when they turn on the TV, in much the same way you log in to your computer. My laptop has multiple profiles at log-in, each showing a slightly different version of the interface, with access to different preference established.

Always-On Log-In

Think of this idea like a Facebook-connect, where you log in once, and after that are asked to log in again once a month or so, and the TV defaults to that preference for the user. This is less accurate in that anyone could easily sit down in front of the TV and pretend to be you. It’s also the closest to the current “Nielsen Household” type tracking.  The benefits are that this would be more inclusive of a general audience.

Smart Home Log-In

This is one I personally like. I might have to patent this one by the end of the week! With thermostats and your security system getting smarter, why not your TV?  If the TV can connect to the smart home, the home can detect who is in the house and in what room, and alert the TV who is watching the screen based on proximity. This then enables the television to deliver advertisements based on the audience. The technology sounds daunting, but the rate at which technology is changing, I don’t think this seems so far out!

I can think of a few more ways to make the television audience addressable as well, so I have to assume the TV companies are thinking about these as well. If you buy that assumption, it’s only a short matter of time before the world shifts and TV becomes segment-able like the rest of digital media. Don’t you agree?

Are you one of those people smarter than me (likely) who is already working on these ideas (hopefully)? Let us know on the Spin Board!

3 comments about "TV's Addressable Future Is Closer Than You Think".
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  1. David Dowhan from TruSignal, January 28, 2015 at 2:23 p.m.

    Cory - One more angle on your patent - why not have each user automatically "register" themselves to the TV when they come into a room and sit for a period of time via their a smartphone? This would work best as a passive login, that doesn't require the user to do anything. A simple BlueTooth sync would do the trick and could account for multiple viewers within the same room watching the same show.

    Now with a mobile device registered as watching a specific TV, on a specific channel, during a specific day/time (and unregistered when you leave the room to get a snack), we are much closer to getting a 1:1 read on actual exposure.

    Moreover, it may even be feasible for the TV to push the record that someone was exposed to a particular ad directly to sync'ed mobile phone itself and maintain a roster of ads exposed to a specific user on their local device. (Think redeemable coupons that get picked up by your mobile phone upon TV exposure so there is some incentive for the consumer to opt-in to such a sync).

    Since I'm carrying my mobile phone everywhere, it is now possible to correlate my trip to a particular retailer with exposure to the ad (think beacons for in-store movement and coupon redemption from my smartphone at POP systems). We can also get at causation if there is a reasonable control group of unexposed users too.

    There are clearly a number of privacy considerations here, but the technology to do all of these pieces is absolutely here right now.

    Now... about that patent.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 28, 2015 at 6:28 p.m.

    Is it realistic to assume that everybody from 2-95 years old will log in as a "viewer" whenever the set is turned on or the channel is changed and then log out, then back again, whenever they leave the room? I doubt it. And what about attentiveness? Is it realistic to assume---as is now done in our national TV ratings---that when a person claims to be "viewing" a TV show, that he "watched" every ensuing second of the content that flashed across the screen----including commercials-----so long as he did not change channels or "log out"? In other words, do we really believe that people are fully engaged with all TV content, once they claim to be "watching" a TV show? Is that the way anyone but a zombie engages with the medium?

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 28, 2015 at 10:32 p.m.

    No, you cannot have my data. The world does not revolve about every one individually. If you want a conversation, turn the entertainment off. No, your comments are not important and do not want to see or hear them. I am watching a show.

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