The Obama campaign's "micro-targeting" of voter groups
through TV advertising gave some ad-sales and technology executives a
springboard to tout advances in addressing messages to groups or individuals.
Joan Hogan Gillman, president of Time Warner Cable Media,
cited an Obama official's statement
in Timeon Nov. 7 that the re-election effort was 14% more efficient
in buying TV ads reaching "persuadable" voters than the 2008 campaign was.
That's because of databases with demographic breakdowns of
the audiences for shows on television, by geographic market, Gillman noted. The
New York Times also had a story on Tuesday about the Obama campaign's use
of data to decide what cable shows to buy, including reruns on TV Land watched
by "folks who may not be as political," as an
official said in that story.
In a panel discussion on Tuesday, Gillman and Kevin Smith,
group vice president at Comcast Spotlight, touted cable, satellite and telco
capabilities to target ads to groups by viewer profiles and neighborhoods.
Comcast, for example, has divided its 20 million subscribers into about 600
"zones," Smith said.
On the same panel, Steve Silvestri, director of advanced
advertising sales at DirecTV, advocated satellite TV's work on addressable
advertising based on set-top box impressions. The satellite TV provider now has
an addressable base of about 11 million DirecTV homes, a figure that grows with
each new customer who gets a DVR.
"We want to get down to the household level, and that's exactly
what we can do today and that's exactly what we are doing," Silvestri said.
Using an example that panel moderator Todd Spangler cited,
Silvestri said DirecTV would target dog-food ads to dog owners, cat-food ads to
cat owners and, to a home nearby with three kids, a minivan ad.
"Zone targeting has been around for a long time," said
George Shababb, president of Kantar Media Audiences North America, which is
working with DirecTV. "What we're talking about now is taking it to the next
level, and actually delivering against households."
Early customers for DirecTV's and Dish Network's
household-addressable technology include
Allstate. DirecTV also sells advertising time in conjunction with Comcast,
Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications, via NCC Media, a separate project not
connected to the household-addressable ad sales, Silvestri said.
Gillman said that even when household addressability is
available on a wide scale -- and Smith said that kind of scale will be years in
coming -- it probably won't attract more than 5% to 10% of TV ad buys.
Most brands will prefer to target consumer segments by such
characteristics as income and gender, using improved measurement to judge the
returns, she said.
Gillman, Smith and panelist Bill Livek, CEO of measurement
firm Rentrak, urged advertisers to get involved in addressable and interactive
advertising campaigns now and learn ways to reach potential consumers more
efficiently. Especially with consumers still feeling uncertain and marketers
wanting to reach buyers without spending more.
"These advanced targeting platforms -- the time, I believe,
is this time, because the economy is compatible with these platforms
that exist in cable, satellite and telco," Livek said.
Comcast has conducted addressable-advertising technology,
including a Baltimore
market test that involved 60,000 homes, and plans more extensive testing.
Smith said Comcast believes in addressable advertising -- most important, to
sell cable products more effectively. Homes already getting cable, phone and
Internet could stop seeing triple-play bundle ads and instead see promos for
Comcast's home-security offering, he said.
"We buy into this -- it is going to happen," Smith
Silvestri said DirecTV has seen results internally by
targeting messages for pay-per-view events, but said he was not able to
The panel was part of the Tuesday's advanced-advertising
event put on by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable.