Kmart Is Testing Customized National TV Ads

The retailer that made blue-light specials synonymous with savings is trialing technology that can customize nationally run television ads "on the fly." The holiday spots are running on Viacom's MTV Network. Technology from Visible World makes it possible.

Kmart's parent company Sears holding has drawn on expertise from both DraftFCB and MPG to support the project. The trials will run through the holidays on MTV Network's TV Land and Nick at Nite.

Technology from New York-based firm Visible World, known as IntelliSpot, automates the trafficking function, allowing Kmart to make near-instant programming decisions before ads air.

The technique is intended to target consumers more closely, depending on demographics and time of day. "The products that Kmart might want to sell to parents rushing out the door in the morning will not be the same as those in the afternoon that target kids," says Tara Walpert, Visible World president.

For advertisers seeking to serve-up more relevant ads to consumers, the Visible World intelliSpot platform makes it efficient to change ad content on-the-fly so that the advertisements automatically updates. For media companies, the technology can increase the value of ad inventory by making it possible to deliver more relevant impressions for marketers and brands.



Walpert says Visual World's technology has its roots in local programming, and now plans to expand across national networks. Today, more than 10 national networks have access to intelliSpot.

The technology has the capability to change portions of the TV spot almost instantly. It works similarly to an online video mash-up, or Microsoft's word processing mail-merge feature. Rather than build one 60-second television commercial, the spot breaks down into two 30-seconds or four 15-seconds, for example. Based on business rules requested by Kmart, IntelliSpot creates a mash-up by merging several segments of the commercial to assemble a complete one-minute spot.

Kmart's holiday ads feature Mr. BlueLight, who represents the company's everyday low-pricing model. The computer-animated character shares gift-giving ideas with multiple people through the television spots, highlighting a variety of holiday treats for personal use and home products. Weekly promotions such as "20% off on apparel" "or buy one, get one free" run during the last 10 minutes of the TV ads.

"That's the part we're able to easily interchange," says Kristen Wipple, a Sears spokesperson. "We're testing the ability to interchange the last 10 seconds of the TV ad. We don't have a lot of data back at this time; we should within the next month."

Visual World's technology, which appears to have given traditional television ads similar nimble features found in Web-based advertising, has attracted investments from Comcast Interactive Capital, Reuters Venture Capital, Time Warner, Viacom and WPP Group.

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