In The Zone: The Cable Operator's Addressable Video Pass

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, September 23, 2008
Inevitably, whenever members of the media community and trade discuss TV addressable video advertising, the focus of their attention is on the technology, the software, while the cable operator platform is positioned as a platter supporting the sumptuous application. The buzz is always about the technologist with colored commentary proffered about the operator's future expansive plans:

"OpenTV Deploys Video Addressable Trial (Comcast) in Huntsville, Alabama"

"Visible World's Visible Cablevision Video Addressable Trial in Brooklyn, NY"

"Invidi Joins Video Addressable Trialing with Comcast Launch in Baltimore, Maryland"

So I have to admit that I was surprised to be reminded last week that cable operators are capable of delivery addressable video advertising to the zone, loosely defined as a gaggle of zip codes configured by the municipality when the cable operator and city governing council negotiated their licensing fee. I should have remembered from previous local cable auto advertising experience that local dealers purchase distinct zones in DMAs in an attempt to retrofit their zips into the cablers geography.



Why is this important, one do ask. I would venture to suggest that upwards of 30 million digital cable households are capable of having multiple iterations of commercial copy delivered to these unique "zones," whose distinctive personalities can be plumbed and leveraged to help advertisers match their commercial messages with the TV viewer. Presently, much of the chatter about addressable video advertising deployment has been limited to under a half million, based upon the latest press pronouncements of Visible World, Invidi and OpenTV.

The rub.

Zone delivery, on its own, in my opinion, has its limitations. Gaggles of zips based upon location, location, location may be beneficial for fixed positioned entities, such as auto dealers, and retailers, but what about the other advertisers and their verticals that could benefit from addressable video delivery. Since early Spring, I have partnered with datamining/ segmentation/ direct marketing specialist Acxiom, and interactive technologist Navic in three trials that utilized segmentation analysis for targeting purposes and interactive TV applications (multiple request for interactions commercial overlays and microsites): Chase credit cards (Time Warner's Oceanic), Chase credit cards (Charter's L.A.) and AIG (Time Warner's Oceanic). We were able to utilize privacy protected -- no personal identifiable info, lifestage data, and match loyalty customer data as well as vivisect 400 other data categories provided by Acxiom's proprietary PersonicX Portraits and target groups. At the last Collaborative Alliance (New York, September 18) a case study was provided. If you are curious about the targeting, addressable, segmentation process you should contact Acxiom's Production Innovation Leader, Joshua Herman ( We are still analyzing the results of the trial or else I would be glad to provide an efficacy analysis.

I mention this because in order to efficiently and effectively exploit the "zone," cable operators need to expand their physical quantitative offering with qualitative data about its zone's subscribers and translatable targeting capability i.e., foundation data (bundled cable services), lifestage data (privacy protected segmentation analysis) and historical set top box program viewing (via Navic's Admira-like capability). Zones have demographic and psychographic personalities -- maybe not as precise as zip codes and certainly not as definitive as individual household inhabitants, but in the interim, as the cable operator's search for a Canoe-ian solution, a valuable contribution to the evolution of video addressable advertising applications via the TV set.

Foundation (cable services)

Lifestage (privacy protected datamining)

Historical set top box viewing (Admira capability)

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