Long Quest for Addressable Ads Moves Forward

New Patents for Invidi, Company Backed by Google and Group M

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Invidi Technologies Corp. said it has been awarded a number of patents that give it the ability to license to others technology that delivers specific ads to particular households or viewers, as well as ascertains the response of the viewers who see them.

It's a sign that the long, sometimes grinding quest to deliver so-called addressable advertising is moving forward.

"Our technology is not limited to just cable television," said Bruce Andeson, chief technology officer at Invidi. "The patent is broad enough to encompass video on cellphones to regular television viewing to viewing on your computer." No matter how video is viewed in the future, he suggested, "the intellectual property would come into play."

The quest to make addressable advertising available for mass marketers has been glacial in its progress, but Invidi's patents suggest the infrastructure for a marketplace in the technology is gradually starting to form. Other entities also help marketers tweak ads for specific audiences, whether they are centered around a geographic location or age or gender demographic. But because delivering such advertising hinges on having a set-top box as the final link to the consumer, and because most cable, satellite and telecommunications video systems are built differently from one another, it has been difficult to assemble an efficient way for, say, Procter & Gamble to reach the millions of diaper consumers it needs.

Over time, said David Downey, president-CEO of Invidi, the company hopes to "target every potential view of every potential [commercial] break."

Google recently took a stake in the company, joining WPP's Group M on the roster of investors. Experian, a company that helps analyze consumer habits and purchases, also took a stake in Invidi late last month and formed a partnership under which the two will help advertisers measure the effects of television ad campaigns, among other efforts.

One adviser to the company believes the patents could prompt big TV-industry players, such as cable-service providers, to adopt Invidi's technology as part of their efforts to make addressable advertising available to marketers.

"The Comcasts of the world are so powerful, they don't really let startups flourish in their space," said Tracey Scheppach, senior VP-innovations director at Publicis Groupe's SMGX. "It seems to me the only way you can be taken seriously is to go after the patent protection." Satellite providers are already making addressable ads available in wider fashion, she added, so the big cable providers have some motivation for looking more deeply into addressable possibilities. "That's going to force the hand of the rest of the ecosystem, she said.

Invidi already licenses intellectual property to customers and partners, said Mr. Downery, and the company is "willing to consider license arrangements with other industry players under the right circumstances."

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