DirecTV Eyes Q4 For National Addressable Ads

NCC Selling Local Ads on Behalf of Satellite Operator in 25 Markets

DirecTV is still in the testing phase with household-addressable advertising, aiming for a commercial launch in the fourth quarter of 2012 -- putting the project at least a year behind schedule.

In December 2010, DirecTV said it expected to deploy the addressable-ad system in the second half of 2011 across 25 of the top-rated cable networks to its nearly 10 million DVR customers. The satellite operator also announced a deal with Starcom MediaVest Group, under which the ad agency committed to spend up to $20 million on addressable advertising on behalf of clients with DirecTV in 2011.

At this point, DirecTV is working with SMG on the test, and the companies expect Q4 will "be a full marketplace launch," DirecTV spokeswoman Cara Brugnoli said.

DirecTV did implement addressable technology in the fourth quarter of 2011 and began running local advertising across 25 networks in 25 markets, according to Brugnoli. NCC Media, ad-sales company owned by Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications, is selling the local inventory as DirecTV's representative. "This inventory is traditional local advertising -- day, date and time," Brugnoli said. "This was a business decision allowing DirecTV to get into the local marketplace."

On the national front, SMG is "hard at work building" the addressable capability with DirecTV, according to Tracey Scheppach, executive vice president and innovations director for SMGx and VivaKi. She declined to provide details.

On DirecTV's addressable-ad landing page, three companies -- Purina, Microsoft and Mercedes-Benz -- are used to illustrate ads targeted to "dog owner," "computer owner" and "HH income $250K+" respectively. However, those are "just used for presentation purposes," Brugnoli said.

DirecTV is using the addressable-advertising system developed by New York-based Invidi Technologies. The satellite operator is an investor in Invidi, along with Google, WPP's GroupM, Motorola Ventures, NBC, Verizon, Experian and several venture capital firms.

With Invidi's system, the local or targeted TV spots -- sold in the local inventory available to DirecTV -- are delivered via satellite to subscribers' DVRs. The Invidi software then determines based on various factors which ad to serve in a given time slot.