Hitting the Spot With Addressable Ads

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As president of Spot Runner, John Gentry helps manage the day-to-day activities of the company, while also leading both the local and national advertising-services divisions. He joined Spot Runner as chief revenue officer, overseeing all sales and business development activities, strategic partnerships, media, distribution relationships and customer care. Prior to Spot Runner, Gentry was chief revenue officer at Green Dot, a prepaid debit-card company. He also served as senior VP and GM of affiliate business for Overture Services, the originator of the paid search-advertising model. Gentry has also held positions in distribution strategy at Disney/ABC Cable Networks and Discovery Communications. He spoke with Local Ad Sales contributor K.C. Neel recently about the potential for addressable and on demand-advertising. An edited transcript follows:

Q: What kind of role will addressable advertising play going forward?

A: We’re a technology company focused on building the next generation of advertising services, so we see a lot of potential for addressable advertising, even though there is very little of it today. The scale and reach is very limited. There is simply not the same level of audience as there is for traditional 30-second spots right now. Still, even though it’s not being offered widespread today, addressable advertising lends itself to what clients want.

Q: How will Canoe come into play?

A: When Canoe comes online, it will be ideally set up to deal with ad inventory. With Canoe, you can slice inventory into household levels. But the real trick will come with how to take all that data and use it effectively. That’s where we excel. Spot Runner was created in 2006 because consumers were changing the way they get their media.

Q: What kind of impact will Microsoft’s acquisition of Navic Networks have on the advertising universe?

A: We think the Navic deal is great. Navic is a software solution for operators. We can work with them to better understand their inventory, which will make it easier to sell to their clients.

Q: What are some of the hurdles in embracing addressable advertising?

A: For media owners, they have to have the ability to go addressable and it will be a challenge to consolidate the broader landscape. That’s where the idea for Canoe comes in. For advertisers, one of the biggest hurdles will be to understand the concept and build campaigns around the different demographics they want to reach. It will require smart technology and that is something we can help them with. We were built to deal with that kind of advertising. Operators are sitting on a massive asset right now. They have the best database available and they are in a position to understand consumer behavior and they also have the viewership. They have a very bright future ahead and we do, too.

Q: What is the potential for on-demand advertising?

A: Video-on-demand is clearly a different product from addressable advertising. There are different applications and there is an educational challenge in making sure advertisers understand the product. At the same time, there is a massive demand for brand media buying on TV. Advertisers want to better understand what people are watching.

Q: Which will be more popular and successful with advertisers -- on demand or addressable ads?

A: We believe enhanced TV with available data will be bigger because more data means it’s more attractive to advertisers and agencies. Separate from that and long term, the 30-second spot will continue to evolve. It won’t go away, but you will see different video offers evolve.

Q: How important will multiplatform campaigns be going forward?

A: We already do quite a few multiplatform campaigns. Our focus has been on crossovers between television -- both broadcast and cable -- and online. We’ve seen quite a bit of synergy with that combination. Mobile is still early. The industry is facing a consumer adoption hurdle and that comes before the advertising hurdle. It just doesn’t have the kind of scale necessary to be viable yet.

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