Dish, which provides satellite-TV services to nearly 13.8 million customers, has agreed to use technology from Invidi Technologies to deliver what it calls "addressable, targeted and local TV advertising." Many of the company's receivers will support the sending of specific ads as well as inserting commercials into video streams.
Invidi's technology will enable Dish "to target any geographic or demographic footprint advertisers are interested in reaching to deliver their message with measurement and accountability," said Michael Kelly, exec VP, Dish Network, in a statement.
If the method gains traction and shows positive results, it could spread to other venues. Many advertisers have shown more interest in the capabilities of cable, satellite and phone companies to use set-top boxes and other receivers to prompt more interaction between the average couch potato and the once-passive TV. A host of parties, including Canoe Ventures, a consortium led by the cable industry that is also studying the possibilities of interactive TV, and an interactive-advertising test led in Baltimore by Comcast Corp. and Starcom MediaVest Group, is racing to see if the notion has legs.
The development of technology that turns a once-passive medium into a two-way conversation generator is responsible for all the activity. As consumers spend more time with the internet and other digital media, their likes and dislikes can be measured more concretely than they can when it comes to watching traditional TV. Consumers who are lured in by a web ad often respond to it by clicking to learn more or even making a purchase. That's often more than the average TV advertiser gets in the way of monitoring response.
The push to graft the interactive capabilities of the web onto the TV has met with resistance. Simply put, each major cable, satellite or phone company has varying technology, meaning it's hard if not impossible to put a national interactive ad into play that can work simultaneously across all the different companies that act as an intermediary between the viewer and the advertiser. If General Motors Corp. wanted to run a national ad that let viewers click their remotes to set up a test drive, the automotive marketer would have to navigate through everything ranging from TiVo to Comcast to Verizon to make sure its entreaty would be seen by the nation's entire TV-viewing populace.
One of Invidi's backers predicted more interest in the ability to deliver specific ads to particular households. "We are at the beginning of the targeted-advertising era," suggested Irwin Gotlieb, global chief executive for WPP Group's Group M, an Invidi investor.