Addressability’s Great, But Interactivity Is Here Now

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New York — While the “holy grail” of advertising —
targeted, addressable ads — might be years away from the
mainstream, it seems 2011 is going to be the year of the
interactive ad.

That was the consensus of executives from a range of multichannel
providers and technology vendors on a panel at last
week’s “Advanced Advertising 3.0, The Next Big Thing” event,
held by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable.

While addressable ads may be the ultimate goal, interactive
ads are the easier play for the industry right now. “One
doesn’t replace the other,” Andrew Ward, group vice president
at local-ad-sales vendor Comcast Spotlight, said. “But from a
technology standpoint, interactivity is
signifi cantly lower-hanging fruit.”

Propping up interactivity, Kathy
Timko, chief operating officer of MSObacked
Canoe Ventures, pointed to early
data that shows purchase intent increases
40% through interactive ads, even if
the user doesn’t click on anything.

“Not that addressable isn’t the holy
grail, but interactivity is here; we
should see if we can leverage that to an
additional $10 billion,” she said.

The benefits would extend to programmers,
too, Ensequence CEO Peter Low said. “A big focus
for us is to do everything we
can to bring programmers
into the fold,” he said. “Interactive
is not just an advertising
play, it’s a programming play.”

Interactive ads are unlikely
to become the norm on
broadcast television anytime
soon, though. Implementing
interactivity on broadcast
is more difficult than on cable
because of the need to
integrate national and local
broadcast systems, Joan
Gillman, Time Warner Cable’s
executive vice president
and president of media sales,
said. She described advanced
advertising’s development as
a “crawl, walk, run” process.

Addressable advertising, while it
offers the promise of targeting actual
people, not just the shows they watch,
brings its own set of unique challenges
to implementation.

“It’s an intensely complex problem,”
Aaron McNally, manager of TV
ads for Google, said. “When you start
targeting spots, you’re talking about
billions of spots that need to be managed
by a system,” which means a lot
of data and a lot of advertisers. “It’s
pretty astounding,” he added.

While every year seems to be touted as the year for change
in the advertising industry, all the panelists seemed convinced
that 2011 would be a year of momentum and change.

“The future of TV advertising could become clear in the
next year or so,” Jason Malamud, general manager of FiOS advertising
for Verizon Communications, said, as cable MSOs
aggressively pursue interactivity-enhanced ads and satellite
providers go after addressability “because it suits their business
needs today.”

Andrea Morabito is a staff writer at

Broadcasting & Cable.

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