Cable Operators to Roll Out New Ad Program

  |  April 21, 2009   |  Comments

Project Canoe CEO David Verklin says national ads on cable will be swapped out based on income in some regions; promises interactive advertising by early 2010.

National cable advertisers will be able to show different creative to audiences in local cable-system zones based on household income under a new program being rolled out by Project Canoe, a consortium of six major cable networks.

David Verklin, chief executive of Project Canoe, said Monday that two to four cable networks will offer advertisers so-called community-addressable messaging in the 2,400 local cable zones. Details will be disclosed in the next two to three weeks.

Proclaiming that cable system operators "are getting back into the game," Verklin made his remarks at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Digital Video conference in New York City.

Here's how the community-addressable advertising works:

Let's say Visa decides to run a national ad campaign. Creative for the Visa Gold card could be shown to cable subscribers in 370 zones where the household income is over $100,000, while creative for other Visa cards could be swapped out for zones where the income is under $100,000.

Cable operators, Verklin said, are working toward the day when they will be able to swap out ads based on a household -- not just a so-called cable or community zone. Under that scenario, only dog owners would see a dog food ad.

The venture has not disclosed which networks or advertisers will be part of its launch, according to a Multichannel News report.

Verklin also promised that 10 million cable subscribers will begin to see the first interactive applications by early 2010.

Citing a hypothetical example, Verklin said cable subscribers watching an ad for Kraft Foods' Macaroni & Cheese would be able to use their remote controls to request a coupon or recipe.

Or cable subscribers could participate in interactive polls and surveys, vote for the "player of the game," or engage in trivia quizzes.

He acknowledged that the applications will be rudimentary at the start. "Cable has a long way to go. Give us some patience," he asked. Still, he said television advertising holds more potential than online banner or video ads.

"Online display advertising is not a killer application," said Verklin, adding that his assessment also applies to online video advertising. "Targetability is a cookie... I get a lot of mortgage ads, and I'm not in-market for a mortgage."

Project Canoe is comprised of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, and Bright House Networks.

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Anna Maria Virzi

Anna Maria Virzi, ClickZ's executive editor from 2007 until 2012, covered Internet business and technology since 1996. She was on the launch team for Ziff Davis Media's Baseline and also worked at Forbes.com, Web Week, Internet World, and the Connecticut Post.

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