Curious Thoughts from Curious Minds: The March to Addressability - David Cohen - MediaBizBloggers

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Welcome Universal McCann as our newest MediaBizBloggers.

Delivering the right message to the right consumer at the right time is the holy grail of advertising. We are only beginning to realize that promise. Addressable advertising, the ability to deliver a customized message to an individual household, television set, computer screen, and/or mobile device is finally becoming a reality.

I think back to the time when Time Warner launched their Full Service Network in Orlando, FL. It was back in 1994 when the Full Service Network was described as “the first in the world to integrate emerging cable, computer, and telephone technologies over a fiber-optic and coaxial cable network.” The service offered traditional cable, interactive television, telephone services, and high-speed PC access to on-line services. It offered movies on demand, home shopping, and video games to 3,000 to 4,000 homes. There was a hint of addressable advertising in the offering, but it never got traction, and the service was shuttered in 1997.

Twelve years later, we have made a tremendous amount of progress in some areas, and frustratingly little in others.

Technologies in the 2-foot (PC) world have advanced significantly. Advanced targeting capabilities are plentiful with behavioral targeting options from companies like Tacoda, Audience Science, Bluekai, Exelate or proprietary solutions like Cadreon. Quantcast is another company that is squarely moving into the “addressability” space. They have recently launched the Quantcast Media Program which allows marketers to create a behavioral segment and execute that segment across multiple properties. We are testing this proposition with a few clients, so be sure to check back and see if the reality lives up to the promise.

In the 10-foot world (TV), progress has not been nearly as substantive. Companies like Visible World, Navic, Invidi and Spot Runner are all flirting with the idea of delivering customized messages to increasingly discrete populations. The most tangible evidence that addressability is real is an effort that Visible World has been conducting with Cablevision in the NY DMA (Bronx and Brooklyn specifically) to conduct a true addressability trial by household. We have had one client engaged in the trial and it has delivered what was promised – the challenge now is to scale the offering to a far larger geography.

Addressability forces us to think about messaging in a radically new way and will undoubtedly have as much effect on communications planning as it does on creative development. The skill of developing creative efficiently that resonates with discrete segments is something that we don’t do that well as an industry. It is an area that will be developing tools/processes and systems in earnest over the next 12-24 months.

Needless to say, the true magic will happen when we are able to connect the dots across all touchpoints and deliver a series of customized messages to individual consumers. Whether online or on television, using a mobile device or playing on a gaming console – we will be able to deliver a highly coordinated and relevant message. That road promises to be a windy one, but well within our reach and an awfully exciting proposition for us as marketers.

David is EVP, US Director of Digital Communications, David’s central goal is to spearhead UM’s digital and alternative media offering across the US and to accelerate, integrate and intensify a digital best practice throughout the UM universe.

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