NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Cable networks are getting increased notice from advertisers that want to aim their promotional entreaties at niche audiences. But Joan Gillman is lobbying for more attention to be paid to the cable-systems providers that distribute those networks to the nation at large.
In the not-too-distant future Time Warner Cable will unveil several new advertising products, including an "on-demand" ad format that will let advertisers offer viewers coupons and other promotions, and new technology that can be used to get subscribers to respond to an ad or poll.
One of her big challenges at present, she said, is to "create the right and effective go-to-market sales plan" for a 600-person sales force to think of new ways to pitch Time Warner Cable's subscribers to local and national marketers that may not be up to speed on how the new advertising offerings can help them. But she doesn't plan to just announce such things are available and hope customers come calling. Under her aegis, Time Warner Cable has invested in substantial research that will help the company learn how, say, a local chiropractor, as opposed to a local fast-food outlet, might want to make use of such technology.
Ms. Gillman's responsibilities put her at the forefront of a potential blockbuster advertising technology, one that can reach millions of people, but also beam very specialized promotions to them. When U.S. homes first got wired for cable a few decades ago, the program offerings were slimmer, and the technology in its relative infancy. These days, consumers have access to literally hundreds of channels and the set-top box is viewed by many marketers and ad buyers as the linchpin to a new system that will allow them to beam more specific advertising into individual living rooms and also glean more data about how couch potatoes behave when they're staring at the tube.
Ms. Gillman has enjoyed a varied career. Before landing at Time Warner Cable as a full-time consultant in 2004, she did a stint on Capitol Hill, working for U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, and worked for a series of technology concerns that had her peering into the early formulation of internet-service providers, social networks and interactive TV.
She has other goals, too. Inside a cable-system set-top box is reams of data on viewer behavior. Such information will become increasingly valuable as advertisers try to tailor pitches to narrower audiences.
Cable systems will likely "tap the data they have in a confidential, anonymized way to help create products for the consumer and to help create solutions for the marketer," she said, although there are likely "some important strategic milestones" the industry needs to hit over the next two years "to make data a meaningful part of the cable portfolio."
And then Ms. Gillman will have to go sell it as well.