Cable's Slow-Moving Addressable Ad Efforts Could Be Bypassed By Car Advertisers

For some time now the cable industry has been running the gauntlet of media-buying executives and their demands for a cable-wide addressable advertising system.

Now the threat is getting client-specific: A major client from one of TV's biggest advertising categories threatens that more-targetable media will get its media dollars if the cable industry doesn't get its act together.

At the national cable TV show this week in New Orleans, Deborah Wahl Meyer, vice president and chief marketing officer for Chrysler, said "cable's ability to maintain its value is absolutely critical to automakers that are under intense competitive pressures."

Put it another way: If cable doesn't help automotive advertisers soon, its value will be decreasing for car makers.

Automotive companies are the biggest TV spenders in the country -- but competitive pressures are forcing major changes in the business as car sales have been, at best, erratic. Here's a glaring media statistic: Some $1.2 billion was spent on cable in 2007 by the automotive industy. But the percentage of ad dollars for cable has been shrinking, going to other, more-targeted platforms such as the Internet.

Cable operators have been stuck in their well-matured business of basic programming packages. After years of neglect, they are finally turning their attention to local TV advertising sales with the likes of Project Canoe -- an effort that intends to bundle some of the biggest cable systems in the U.S. into a national addressable platform for marketers.

Though one media buy, a company like Chrysler can send five different pieces of creative to five different target audiences for its Ram 1500 truck model.

The rub? Media buyers say the cable industry is holding out a bit -- wanting to increase its coffers from those traditional local TV media budgets.

But media agency executives say that's the wrong thinking. Addressable TV advertising yields a different model that will blur the lines between local and national TV advertising -- with addressable mostly driven by advertisers with big national advertising budgets.

Internet providers get this. And it's only a matter of time before they figure addressable out -- especially when it comes to the quick-growing video-streaming business.

The bottom line: Cable executives had better adjust their expectations -- or their canoe will be up a river with no paddle, or worse, maybe no water



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