Canoe Ventures Ready to Launch

At NCTA: But Are Marketers Ready to Buy Into Cable's Addressable-Advertising Initiative?

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WASHINGTON ( -- Now that Canoe Ventures is readying the launch of its first national addressable-advertising product, dubbed the Cable Advanced Advertising System, in four to six weeks, just how ready is the industry to start using it? Depends whom you ask.

David Verklin
David Verklin
In a panel at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association's Cable Show in Washington, top cable network executives, distributors and media buyers spoke about the industrywide initiative that has the top six cable operators working in concert with each other to make advertising relevant to TV viewers based on data such as household income, purchasing behavior or demographics.

For the cable networks, Canoe's "creative versioning" technology is an opportunity for incremental revenue, as well as targeting that can make programs and ads more relevant.

According to David Verklin, CEO of Canoe Ventures, "We have the ability to run an American Express Green Card ad nationally, and their Gold Card ad can run in 370 zones in America where the average household income is above Green Card households."

Mr. Verklin said two cable networks are already prepared to use the new CAAS product when it launches later in second quarter.

The remaining question for cable networks is how to sell CAAS's reach to advertisers, said David Levy, president of Turner Broadcasting Sales. "If you get too targeted, what's the premium and is there going to be enough of a premium?" he said. "This is additive; it's not going to shift dollars to 'reach' buys. So for national buys, it's good to have targetability, but it has to have valuable information."

For the cable operators, Canoe presents an opportunity to collect more ad dollars from the internet and direct mail, because Canoe's CAAS will, for the first time in the U.S., add a local ad insertion to national ads. "If NBC Universal wants to make ads more targeted and Canoe can help them do that, it will make the TV platform as relevant as possible for everybody," said Stephen Burke, chief operating officer of Comcast Corp.

But Matt Seiler, global CEO of Universal McCann, cautioned that media agencies' buying groups are still too segregated to properly buy addressable advertising. "One of the things we have got to stop doing is organizing ourselves based on that kind of silo, because our people don't know anything," he said. "I don't think we as an industry are really organized to take advantage of this."

Mr. Verklin argued that addressable advertising is already a boon for direct marketers looking for more transaction-based relationships with their target consumers. It will also make ad engagement much more measurable. "A third of commercials on TV have no rating. Set-top-box data can allow us to put a rating on every break on TV. There is enormous promise with this venture."

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