The iTV Doctor Is In! Pay TV's Targeted Advertising Advantage

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By Rick Howe

Dear Readers:   

With apologies to Ferris Bueller, the television industry moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
That's why you MUST attend the 2016 TVOT show at the Presidio in San Francisco. Here is the outstanding schedule:
A couple weeks ago, I was honored to join the slate at INTX 2016 Imagine Park on a panel entitled "Why Targeted Ads Are (Still!) Such a Moving Target." Moderator Stephanie Mitchko Beale (Cadent) wrangled a large team that included the good doctor, Zane Vella (Watchwith), Derek Mattsson (Placemedia), Rhodes Maxon (Internet Video Archive), Aaron Goldman (4C) and my co-presenter Ofir Daniel (Amdocs).
Amdocs and I were invited to speak on the panel because of our work on Project Quantico, as I wrote about last month:

I got to bat clean-up (certainly a preferred slot in such events), and I noted that all the viewers we are targeting have one thing in common--something so obvious that we usually skip right past it: they are all cable or satellite subscribers. And because of that the operators have a long-term and rather intimate relationship with them. We know who they are, where they live, what they've upgraded and downgraded to over the years, how they pay, when they pay, and a whole lot more.
In fact, we've been to their homes. At least once, probably a lot more often.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Google can say that.
As a lifetime cable guy, I can honestly make this statement: "These are OUR subscribers. Everything they do with video comes through us."
In her piece for Multichannel News, Cable Pioneer Leslie Ellis wrote:    
"The holy grail for on-demand: The ability, as a consumer, to select one targeted, personalized advertisement to watch while binge-watching--as opposed to the 20 ad minutes slotted into an hour of programming, said Rick Howe, The iTV Doctor, representing Amdocs.
"'As an industry, we've been talking for years, and we get hung up on the fancy-schmancy targeting, bringing in data, personalizing,' Howe said. 'Meanwhile, we're sitting on mountains of data' which could be harnessed to create a single advertisement, tailored to a viewer's interest, 'where the advertiser pays enough to warrant the network or operator stripping out those other 12 minutes of rather meaningless ads, instead putting in one that provides interactivity and a design to take action.'" 

Certainly Amdocs can aggregate, sort, slice and dice the customer data that they manage for service providers to create consumer profiles that can be used to get the right ad to the right individual. And we know how to digitally insert ads into the right program, whether on-demand or on the fly. Watchwith uses those same audience profiles to deliver in-program ads to the right viewers. We simply need to wrangle it all together, as the folks from the newly-formed Turner Ad Lab are doing.

I asked Howard Shimmel, Turner's Chief Research Officer, how Turner Ad Lab came to life:  

"We came to the realization that the TV ad model needs to change," Howard said. "Turner understood that one of the reasons people are leaving the ecosystem and seeking out content from places like Netflix is the lack of advertising. Fixing the TV ad model goes a long way towards healing the ecosystem.

"And we realized that Turner couldn't do it by ourselves. We needed to get lots of different perspectives, from advertisers, technologists, academics and more. We have a short-term focus (1-3 years) for what we can do right now, and a longer-term focus (5+ years) for what we can do with the technology that is still in development.
"One of our top priorities, from a research perspective, is how the consumer sees privacy and targeted advertising on their television, vs. on their mobile device. We know that deleting cookies and turning off tracking for mobile apps is just too hard for consumers. But we also know there is a 'creep' factor when we get too personal with advertising. We need to find a balance."

Howard recently wrote about the Turner Ad Lab for CableFax. Here is a link:
But there is at least one gating factor that cannot be ignored. Targeted and personalized advertising means, by definition, that the traditional concept of "scale" goes out the window. During any given week, or month for that matter, we might only be delivering a given ad to few thousand consumers. And I don't care who you are, you're not going to create a custom ad for that small a universe.
Zane Vella, Watchwith CEO, was on the same INTX panel, and he addressed that problem, pointing out that Watchwith's interactive overlay capabilities provide an additional channel to deliver a targeted and interactive advertising message, without forcing the viewer to endure another full screen interruption of the content. Watchwith can extend an "off the shelf" commercial into a program, reinforcing an advertiser's campaign objectives powered by the Data Sets aggregated by Amdocs.
At TVOT San Francisco we will dig deeper with a panel on New Advertising Formats, with Ken Roulier (Amdocs), Christian Borges (trueX), Tal Chalozin (Innovid), Mike Fisher (Brightline), Seth Walters (MODI Media) and Boaz Cohen (Eyeview); moderated by Anna Bager (IAB).
Once again, here is a link to the complete agenda:

North America