Comcast Readies Targeted-Ad Test In Baltimore

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Comcast in November will kick off a six-month limited trial of a targeted-ad system with 70,000 digital-cable households in the Baltimore area.

The cable operator is notifying customers of the test with letters set to mail Wednesday, and will allow any subscribers to opt out by mail, telephone or using a Web form, said Dana Runnells, senior director of communications for the Comcast Spotlight advertising division.

Comcast will run addressable ads on eight cable networks in Baltimore, in the local pods available to the operator, Runnells said. The ads covered in the test will represent 2% of the total ad airtime.

In the letter to subscribers who have been selected for the test, Comcast emphasizes its privacy protections and claims viewers will be seeing more relevant TV ads. “We believe that many of our customers will find this new service valuable because time spent watching ads will be more meaningful,” the Comcast letter says.

The operator won't disclose which cable networks the ads will run on, nor will it identity the advertisers, “to help preserve the integrity of trial data,” Runnells said.

Comcast will use Invidi's Advatar technology to deliver targeted ads, based on demographics and advertiser segments, but not using personally identifiable information or viewing behavior.

The operator is collaborating with media agency network Starcom MediaVest Group to line up advertisers and facilitate the advertising strategy for the trial. 

SMG and Comcast Spotlight previously worked together in an addressable-advertising trial in Huntsville, Ala. SMG agency clients that participated in that test included General Motors, Discover Card, Hallmark, Kraft Foods, Mars, Miller Brewing Co. and Procter & Gamble.

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