Cablevision To Aim Ads At 500,000 Subscribers

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Cable TV Upfronts 2009: Complete Coverage From Multichannel News 

Cablevision Systems announced it will expand its addressable-advertising capabilities to be able to deliver TV spots based on an individual subscriber's demographic data to some 500,000 households across the New York metro area this summer.

The half-million-homes deployment -- representing cable's largest with addressable advertising to date -- comes after an 18-month trial covering 100,000 households, in which Cablevision tested the targeted form advertising for its Optimum-branded services.

According to Cablevision, the trial showed a "double-digit" lift in sales in areas that received the addressable ads compared with homes that did not. After building out to 500,000 households across multiple zones within the New York DMA, Cablevision ultimately expects to bring addressability to all of its 2.8 million digital TV subscribers.

The expanded deployment includes unidentified "top national brands," represented by media agencies GroupM, Starcom MediaVest Group and Universal McCann. Cablevision said it already has placed addressable ads from outside advertisers, but it has not identified those customers publicly.

Addressable advertising, considered a holy grail of advertising in combining broad reach with demographic targeting, is also a core part of the mission for Canoe Ventures, the joint venture of Cablevision and five other MSOs. But Canoe, at least initially, will provide targeting at the zone level not the household level.

Independent of Canoe, Cablevision is moving ahead on several advanced-advertising initiatives. Earlier this week Cablevision and its Rainbow Media programming unit announced plans to offer interactive advertising products and applications to media buyers during this year's upfronts, which would be available in inventory on five Rainbow networks and be viewable to Cablevision digital cable subscribers.

To deliver addressable advertising, Cablevision is using technology from Visible World, a New York-based company that works with more than 200 advertisers to dynamically customize television ads at national, local and household levels.

"Addressable advertising gives marketers a more precise method of providing customers with highly relevant messages utilizing widely available general data and information, implemented on an anonymous basis," said David Kline, president of Rainbow Advertising Sales Corp., Cablevision and Rainbow's advertising sales unit, in a statement. "The more relevant the commercials, the more engaged the viewer. Increasing engagement and measurability is what addressable advertising is all about."

Cablevision is using demographic information provided by data-aggregation firm Experian, which is associated with subscriber households and ultimately linked to each subscriber's set-top box or boxes.

Data analyzed by the addressable-ad system includes income, ethnicity and whether the subscriber has children or pets, but the system strips out personally identifiable information so advertisers don't know the actual names or addresses of the viewers who were sent their ads.

In addition, advertisers can use the Experian data to cross-reference their customers lists, so they could theoretically target one ad to current customers and a different one to those who aren't.

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