Mixed Signals in Cable Business

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Network-cable buying is sluggish while spot cable continues to thrive. Industry sources report price increases for first-quarter network-cable ads as flat to low single digits above upfront pricing. Spot cable sources report sales increases of about 20% from a year ago.

Meanwhile, a new piece of software for customizing local spots is getting rave reviews from buyers and sellers. It's called IntelliSpot.

Ed Renicker, New York Interconnect senior VP/GM, says IntelliSpot has "the most advanced advertising targeting capability in television today." At least one major agency buyer agrees.

Intellispot—developed by Visible Word and SeaChange International—allows advertisers to customize changes within
the commercial itself, using demographic, psychographic and lifestyle data. NCC now has it in five markets.

IntelliSpot was first deployed with the Los Angeles Interconnect, Adlink, in last spring, according to Visible Word President Seth Haberman.

IntelliSpot's proprietary Visible Word software and SeaChange hardware configure commercials at the headend in real time. A Bermuda tourism spot, for example, can be instantly reproduced with different visuals and narration as different demographics and ZIP codes are plugged into the system.

"The challenge is, where do we exploit this?" Renicker says. He sees immediate pharmaceutical, retail and automotive applications.

Adds MindShare local broadcast chief Kathy Crawford, "Cable will leave broadcast in the dust because of micro-targeting technology. Local broadcast is being naive to what this present technology means to their future."

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